A Tale of Three Friends

Yesterday was a good day ... no ... it was a great day! I started the day by taking Craig for his annual colonoscopy so maybe I should clarify and say the day was great for me and challenging for him! When I had Craig all settled at home after the invasive procedure and gave him plenty of liquids as per the doctor’s orders, I went for my daily jog/walk. I intended to go about 2.5 miles and then come home and fix dinner. I love to walk in a neighborhood across the street from ours that has a half-mile track around its nature preserve. The day was perfect ... the sun was brilliant ... and I was ready to sweat.

I often see familiar faces as I walk my daily route and smile and say, “Hi! Great day for a walk!” But truly, when I am out exercising, I just want to pray alone and enjoy God’s creation by myself. I really don’t want to talk to strangers.

Yesterday, I spotted a woman whom I usually observe walking on my nature trail with her i-pod on and her eyes riveted on the ground. She was walking the opposite direction of me and so as I crossed her path, I merely tried to make eye contact. Just trying to be friendly, you know? I might enjoy solitary exercise but I am not stuck up! I was jogging and she was power-walking. After crossing her path, twice, she looked at me and said, “We really should walk together so you can help me run further.”

Now ... I know that I am a pastor’s wife and I sincerely love women’s ministry, but truly, my first thought was, “Crumb! Now I have to walk AND talk!” (By the way, “crumb” is the only bad word that I ever use.)

But, I got over myself and welcomed Sue to join me. I started to explain to her my strategy of running 1,000 steps, walking 200, running 800 steps, walking 200, running 600 steps, walking 200. Well ... you get the picture.

It turns out that God’s design was for Sue and I to walk together not so that I could give her a strategy for running but rather share my strategy for life. Sue shared her heart and I shared mine. Although she doesn’t know the Lord yet ... she is interested in my faith. That 2.5 miles turned into 5 miles and I arrived home not just with calories burned but also with a new friend by the name of Sue.

“I am so sorry, Lord. How small of me to think that my daily discipline of walking and jogging is all about me. Everything I do really is all about You.”

When I arrived home, sweaty, stinky and aching, a bouquet of beautiful spring flowers sat on my kitchen counter. I read the card and discovered they were from a dear friend, Pamela, who is a precious gift from God. Pamela and I had suffered a schism in our relationship several years ago that was painful and unnecessary. I take full blame. However, over the course of the past year, we have both worked diligently at mending our friendship and have truly fallen in love all over again! Immediately I called Pamela to thank her for her thoughtfulness, and we giggled, cried and visited for the next 10 or 15 minutes. What a gift! What a delight! To have an old friend become a new friend! What joy to realize that the minor things really are minor and that the blessing of genuine friendship is not to be taken lightly.

After my restored friend, Pamela, and I finished our phone call, I noticed that another friend had been trying to reach me.

I wish that you knew Sarah. Everyone needs a Sarah. Sarah has stuck with me through thick and thin. Although I am old enough to be her mom, sometimes she is the one who speaks into my life. We have a hard time defining our relationship ... are we mother/daughter? Perhaps big sister/little sister? Mentor/mentee? Or maybe ... we are genuinely sisters of the heart which is the dearest kind of friend.

I can tell Sarah ANYTHING without fear of being judged or criticized. She always believes the best and looks for gold in me. She is my kindred spirit and I love watching her juggle mothering a strong-willed 2 year old, loving a premature baby to health and spending time with her husband. She tells me who to vote for, disciples my daughters and believes in my dreams. Sarah is my friend for life.

Sue ... Pamela ... Sarah. What did I do to deserve such blessing? My tale of three friends today is to encourage you to nurture the relationships that God has given to you. Be ready for divine appointments and welcome strangers into your heart. Allow God to restore broken relationships and be willing to forgive and to be forgiven. Treasure the miraculous gift of life-long friends. Isn’t our goal that every friendship would develop into a Sarah?

“Make new friends but keep the old. One is silver and the other’s gold.”