The Gift of Friendship

I read a familiar quote recently that caused me to stop and ponder the glorious gift of friendship. 

“Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another: ‘What?! You too? I thought I was the only one.” – C.S. Lewis 

I have treasured the gift of having a sweet friend ever since I was a preschool girl and Annie Scroger lived right around the corner from me. Those were the simple and easy days of pigtails, red tricycles and sidewalk chalk – but a rich friendship was born nonetheless. Annie cared about me and I cared about her. 

“We didn’t even realize we were making memories … we just knew we were having fun.” – Winnie the Pooh 

As I grew from girlhood to the teenage years, my life was enriched by friends such as Diane Eick … Susie Szelag … and Mary Ann Cassiano.  

Oh!!  Let me tell you that we shared secrets, wrestled with Physical Science and dreamed of all that our lives would become.  We cried over first loves, pulled all-nighters and vowed to stay in touch over the years. 

“A friend loves at all times.” – Proverbs 17:17 

And then college called my name … the red tricycle was stored in my parents’ garage, the Physical Science book was handed down to another unsuspecting student and my dreams were about to become realities.

But the friendships of yesterday remained dear and vital and foundational.

“Growing apart doesn’t change the fact that for a long time we grew side by side; our roots will always be tangled. I’m glad for that.” - Condie

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In college, I paired my life with girls from around the country, but I must admit that I cherished most of all two Southern friendships.  I met Debby from Smackover, Arkansas, and Mary Ann from Alief, Texas on my very first day at the university over 1,000 miles away from my northern home.  

At first – these two “y’all” spouting girls couldn’t understand my northern accent and tried to figure out if my reference to “pop” should be defined as a carbonated beverage or as my father. (It was the former.  Which, by the way, these southern belles referred to as a “Coke” whether they were drinking Sprite, Ginger Ale, Pepsi or Root Beer.  Anything fizzy and sugary was simply called by the generic name “Coke”. Who knew?!!)

“Many people will walk in and out of your life, but only true friends will leave footprints in your heart.” – Eleanor Roosevelt

And then I became a wife and a mom and my need for friendships was placed on the backburner of life for several decades.   

During the “hands-on-mothering” years I often pushed friendship to the wayside because I couldn’t invest what was left of “me” in one more relationship.  My marriage and my children were requiring every drop of listening, of crying, of giggling, and of servanthood that I could manage.

But now I am an empty nest mother who travels around the world telling people about Jesus.  

I study the Bible and share it every single way that I can … through the written word … through the spoken word … through social media … through radio waves … through the internet … through the cables that somehow produce TV. (I knew that I should have paid better attention in Physical Science class!  Maybe then I would understand how radio waves and TV cables actually work!!)

In this season of life, I am rediscovering my deep and desperate need for friendship. 

I ache for women who know me from the inside out and who love me anyway. 

I crave rich conversations that focus on the things that truly matter in life.  

I yearn for a woman who will listen with her heart wide open and with a tissue box handy.

This spring, as I have been traveling, rather than staying in sterile hotels, I have enjoyed the warmth of staying with friends.  In this busy journey of conferences, book sales and teaching the Word, I have become reacquainted with four of the very best type of friends.

First of all, I stayed with a friend in the frigid region of western New York who chose to serve me in her beautiful home with delicious yet healthy food. Let me tell you … this girl can cook! She had made my bed with warm flannel sheets to combat the cold winter nights. She sacrificed her car so that I could meet old friends for lunch. She opened her home night after night so that we could gather with women who just wanted more of Jesus and more of each other.

Everyone needs a friend who is simply a servant.  Thank you, Kim.

On my next step in the journey, I stayed with a friend who makes everything more beautiful just by her very presence. We went for long walks on spring mornings and basked in the glory of dogwoods, of herons on the pond and of rich, dark earth. She made hot cups of tea for me in her restored century old home and listened to my heart. She left treasures on my bed that were specific and timely just for me. But most of all – she responded to my heart with wisdom. Whenever I asked her a difficult question – she dipped deeply into her storehouse of insight and shared it with me in the most gentle of ways. 

Everyone needs a friend who lives a life of unmatched beauty and offers valuable wisdom.  Thank you, Dawn.

“Oil and perfume make the heart glad, so a man’s counsel is sweet to his friend.” – Proverbs 27:9

Then I spent two nights in the home of an intercessor and prayer warrior.  My! How this woman prays!!  And she prays for me!  She hears from God on my behalf!  Hell shakes with tremendous fear when this woman gets out of bed in the morning. Honestly – I could live out my days safe in the assurance that she is championing the cause of heaven and saying my name in her prayers.

Everyone needs a friend who prays.  Thank you, Christy. 

My final stop on this tour of friendship is with my lifetime mentor. Carolyn goes digging for the gold in my heart. She challenges me with her lifetime of faith and with her refusal to quit. Although dealing with difficult life circumstances herself, she cheers me on in my journey and makes me believe in myself again.

Everyone needs a friend who stands firm in the faith and who refuses to be moved by the winds of circumstances.  Thank you, Carolyn.

“Kindred spirits are not so scarce as I used to think. It’s splendid to think that there are so many of them in this world.” – Anne of Green Gables. 

Thanks for listening to my heart this week.  As you know by now, my heart is truly not a perfect heart but it is a heart that is filled to overflowing with gratitude for the life I have been given and for the people who walk with me.  And, it continues to be a heart that is relentlessly chasing after God and all that He is!  

Carol McLeod4 Comments