This weekend I was renewed by time together with two close girlfriends, Fritz and Shirley. It is a real privilege and joy to have heart friends who know our history, have walked with us through good and hard times, and have encouraged us along the way.
On Friday, we drove through the foothills to Three Rivers, a long town in the California Sierras bordered by a roaring river on the left and hill country on the right. Crossing a bridge, we turned into the Gateway Lodge and Inn and were seated at a window table overlooking the raging white waters.
The best part of our visit was meaningful conversations amid the beauty of God’s creation. We talked about families, dreams, husbands, concerns and, well, heart issues.We encouraged and committed to pray for each other’s current concerns.
Some of the ways these friends, and others, have encouraged me include the following:
- Flying across country to support me when, with an ill husband, I was in a hospital 3000 miles away from home.
- Praying for me.
- Listening to me recount the most difficult day of my life, without interruption.
- Loving me when I was at my lowest, hurting at the loss of the man with whom I thought I would grow old. Fritz said to me today, “You wonder, when a friend is grieving, what can you do to help? Did you say the right thing? Did you say enough?” I told her they ministered to me just by loving me, and that was enough.
- Encouraging me to build new memories in an environment I shared with the person I just lost.
- Working through their own feelings about a new relationship and learning to love the new man in my life.
- Reminding me of special moments, and helping me laugh.
- Helping hold me accountable for choices I make, and reminding me of God’s faithfulness to me in the past.
- Giving me wise perspective on decisions I am making in our new community.
Fritz and Shirley helped me think through issues such as what church we want to be part of since our move. My friends talked about God’s gracious gift to me of a second husband whom I adore and who my friends also love; as we talked, the truths shared around table and in the car spoke wisdom and challenge into my spirit.
I’d felt unsettled in the church we considered being part of. Before service Sunday I prayed that God would change my heart toward this body of believers. There was nothing wrong with the church … it just was different than the last two marvelous churches we’ve been part of, and I wasn’t handling the differences well.
Sunday morning’s service was tremendously uplifting, the sermon challenging. And I felt God changing my heart. I know this was at least in part because my girlfriends spoke truth to me.
So I have been renewed in mind and spirit. I am grateful for my heavenly Father who answers prayer and who gives me heart friends to encourage, challenge and strengthen me.
“Perfume and incense bring joy to the heart, and the pleasantness of a friend springs from their heartfelt advice.” Proverbs 27:9, NIV
How has a friend encouraged or challenged you recently?