If friendship was currency, I would be wealthy…
It is a chilly Oregon, fall morning. I hear the rooster crowing, the goats bleating, and I am awaiting my first cup of coffee. I am snuggled in on the hide-a-bed in my friend’s living room and being grateful that I have one so dear to me.
We need friends. Friends are good soul water. Proverbs 27:9-11 (The Passion Translation) Sweet friendships refresh the soul and awaken our hearts with joy, for good friends are like the anointing oil that yields the fragrant incense of God’s presence. Friends are good therapists Proverbs 27: 9 Oil and perfume make the heart glad, and the sweetness of a friend comes from his earnest counsel. When I go for periods of time without being with my friends, I feel like I have been hiking in the dessert without any water. Not that I don’t love being with my husband and family, but friends fill a different place in my heart.
My very oldest and longtime friend is my sister. Besides sharing our DNA, we share some of our deepest secrets, deepest joys, deepest pains, abiding love… and clothes.
Some of my earliest memories are with my childhood best friend, Marie. Probably what drove us to friendship, other than divine appointment, was our need for a friend. As a six-year-old, she was new to the church, and I was painfully shy. Fifty years into our friendship, I believe that turned out to be a winning combination. We have walked through the valley of the shadow of death together. She has been an example of faithfulness to me. James 1:12 Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.
Enter the college stage; being thrust into living with people you never knew before either makes you good friends… or not. Fortunately, I collected several life-long friends who also happened to be room or dorm mates. Julie, Melissa, Kelly, Dawn, Linda, Lisa to name a few held me accountable, encouraged me, challenged me, and filled the empty and lonely place in my heart. Psalm 68:4 God sets the lonely in families. Ecclesiastes 4:9-10a Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed. 10 If one person falls, the other can reach out and help…
My husband is my dear friend. He balances me, loves me when I am unlovable and takes great joy in being my provider. He entered the picture when I was twenty-two. As we established our family, we developed our friendship but did not really have many close friends in our daily life. In hindsight, that probably would have helped our first few years of marriage. However, I don’t really think I saw the deficit of missing friendships and wise counsel at the time.
Yet, God saw the need and began adding arrows to my quiver. After a period in a ministry desert, God brought us to our church family. It was a tiny fledgling church. The pastor and his wife were just a bit older than Harold and me. We hit it off pretty quickly. Harold was cautious to not insert himself into their lives too quickly, as he was sure they were busy with the church and their lives. A niggling voice kept telling me that they needed the friendship and encouragement. And that was true thirty-two years ago, just like it is today. Marguerite is not only one of my dearest friends but my neighbor in every sense of the word.
My dear sweet Ginny girl entered the picture a few years later. She and Ron had just moved back to the area from Calgary, Canada. God, in His providence, placed her right, smack dab in the middle of my work territory. Back before the days of cell phones and clean public restrooms, she was a God send. One of my first memories of her is seeing her walk across the parking lot, looking a little peaked, and I thought, “She is pregnant. She needs a friend. She needs me to feed her.” Turns out she has feed me, physically and spiritually, more than I ever imagined possible. Our kids played together. We taught both Sunday School and elementary school alongside each other. We love to go to garage sales and shop together. And we were at each other’s sides during our greatest losses. When my career, as I knew it, came to a screeching halt, she was there to help me pack up in a matter of minutes. No words were needed, it was her presence that was the gift. When we were awaiting word of her husband, who is now with the Lord, we sat together in my car, praying, crying, and reading Psalms together. It is her hide-a-bed I sit on now and offer thanks to the God who made me as one with such a deep well to fill, also be the God who sees me and gives me such wonderful friends that pour their lives into me. (I have to quit typing here. I can’t see through my tears; See my last blog post).
I really could go on naming people and dear friends, but this would turn into a book. However, I would be remiss to not mention my dear Tam. She also happens to be the best neighbor in the world. We have shared 1,000 plus cups of coffee together, and probably as many tears. She is a soul sister who feels my pain and celebrates my joy. She is a picture of the mercy and grace of Jesus in action, and I am blessed to be a recipient of the gifts God has so generously given her.
In my years of friend gathering, I have been fortunate to have friends ages ten to one hundred. I learn from them all and thank the Lord for placing each one in my life.
If you are reading this and are wishing you had soul friends, I would encourage you to reach out and be that friend to someone else. Pour refreshing water into their empty well. In doing so, you will also be filled.
I join Paul in his prayer of thanksgiving for his dear friends.
Philippians 1:3-9 (NLT) Every time I think of you, I give thanks to my God.4 Whenever I pray, I make my requests for all of you with joy,5 for you have been my partners in spreading the Good News about Christ from the time you first heard it until now. 6 And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.
7 So it is right that I should feel as I do about all of you, for you have a special place in my heart. You share with me the special favor of God, both in my imprisonment and in defending and confirming the truth of the Good News. 8 God knows how much I love you and long for you with the tender compassion of Christ Jesus.
9 I pray that your love will overflow more and more, and that you will keep on growing in knowledge and understanding.10 For I want you to understand what really matters, so that you may live pure and blameless lives until the day of Christ’s return. 11 May you always be filled with the fruit of your salvation—the righteous character produced in your life by Jesus Christ[b]—for this will bring much glory and praise to God.