Over the course of the years, I’ve had very few strong friendships. However, those few I’ve had have carried me along some very rough times. In a post from 2015 I discuss my one friendship from childhood. With preparing my daughter’s wedding with only two and a half weeks’ notice, I discovered my friends and the richness they’ve added to my life.
1. Someone to share your joys.
Wednesday at 1:15 I walked down an apple orchard path with my oldest son at my side. He led me to a seat in front of an apple tree decorated with tule, lanterns, and wood rounds covered with mason jars and flowers. A few moments later, my youngest son pulled a little red RadioFlyer wagon down the aisle with an eight-month-old little girl staring around in awe followed by her older sister who spread rose petals on the ground. Behind them came my husband with our daughter on his arm as strains of Pachabel’s Cannon in D Minor floated through the trees.
Yesterday at church I had one of those moments only females can understand. I went to use the restroom, and found myself standing and chatting with friends for five minutes or more. The first lady is someone I really don’t know well, but she asked how my week was. I paused to reflect on the wonderful day Wednesday had been and the packed-full two weeks leading up to it. Then several more friends entered and joined our conversation. One of the ladies had been to the wedding, but the other had been too sick to come. We stood and shared the joy of my daughter’s beautiful day.
2. Someone to pray with.
Back before my youngest was born, I had a lady ask if she could be my prayer partner. Little did I understand the power that request would have or the circumstances we’d encounter along the way. Each Tuesday and Thursday, I learned to expect a phone call at 10:00. If my phone didn’t ring, I’d drop what I was doing and call my friend. We’d chat about our week, share our heartaches and blessings, and pray together. Sometimes those calls would be as short as fifteen minutes, but other times, they lasted for an hour or more. Knowing I had someone to share my burdens with, kept me sane through my mother’s heart attack, a step-daughter’s rebellion, and the everyday turmoil of a young mom dealing with five kids newborn to thirteen-years-old.
3. Someone to challenge you.
One of my friends lives in Michigan, but we met in Ecuador. We can go months without calling each other and talking, but when we do, we’ll talk for hours on end–part of that’s because she’s friends with the whole family and everyone wants their turn to chat with her. Early on in our relationship, I discovered she had a way of asking questions that challenged me. “What are you learning in your quiet time with God?” “What are you studying now?” These questions kept me on my toes to make sure I was spending time with God. Following on their heels would be a suggestion of a book, a Bible study she was working through, or a discussion of how God was working in our lives. It was through this friend I discovered Kay Arthur and her wonderful Bible studies and learned how to study the Bible for myself.
4. Someone to share heartaches with.
I alluded to heartache when I mentioned my prayer partner. Over the course of the last fifteen years we’ve shared many different prayer times each one being slightly different. The majority of our prayers were said while on the phone, but others happened in person when we’d meet up to have fun together, and still others through our tears. The most poignent of those times came eleven years ago this September when she told me her daughter had committed suicide. My husband and I spent the next day with her and her husband. I remember walking wooded paths and praying, singing, and crying together as we tried to understand God’s plan. Friday my friend shared a devotional with me of what she’s learned from that experience. God is so good. It is a pleasure to help bear each other’s burdens.
5. Someone to refresh you.
After two and a half weeks devoted totally to wedding preparations, a friend figured I’d be exhausted and would need some time to relax. So on Friday she invited me to come spend time at her place. We rode horses (something I’ve not done in years and thoroughly enjoyed), had a picnic lunch in the woods, talked, laughed, sang worship songs together, enjoyed a devotional, and planned to get together with our husbands the next time. Although I hadn’t felt worn out, I loved every minute of the time spent with her. The journey on the horses brought back other trips with her and made me realize how much I’ve grown in being around the animals. Our worship time refreshed me like nothing else could.
I know I’m only scraping the top of the barrel of the benefits of good friendships. I’d love to hear what you think. What other points am I missing? What have you discovered over the years?