“…We are in this struggle together.” Phil 1:30

You know, sometimes you are called upon to the be the rock, the anchor for other people. And sometimes you just walk alongside them. On occasion the days work well together and a walk is all you need. Other days, it is a shoulder to cry on, an ear to listen, or perhaps deep prayer requests. And all of those are beautiful, because it means we are trusted to walk with someone, or dry their tears. We have been found sturdy enough to hold others up. Wow. Think about that. It is really an honor.

Every so often, that honor can become a burden, and one that we feel not up to fulfilling. I know that feeling all too well. As I have gotten older, I have retreated more and more from the world. I am completely devoted to my children and grandchildren, our various (and many) extended family members, and about a handful of people I would consider a friend. We have many acquaintances, but very few friends. And that is a good thing. Those people we call friend are there for us regardless of a clean house, shampooed hair, or the state of our bank accounts.

One of my granddaughters started kindergarten this year (to be fair, another started 1st grade, another also kindergarten, and a grandson in 2nd grade….a couple of more are not school aged, yet. I am blessed) and within two days told me about her new best friend. I asked her what her name was, and as she trotted off to play, she was yelling over her shoulder, “Oh, I don’t know her name but she is my best friend.” I had to chuckle. It did not matter that they had only known each other two days, or that she did not know her name, she just knew she had found a friend. How precious is that?? She did not care about anything else, just that she felt friendship. I love it.

As I said above, I have very few close friends. One of my friends is having a big birthday this year. And what is funny about it is that when we first became friends more than 30 years ago, we promised we would not do the birthday thing (it is just a number) or worry about anniversaries. We promised we would celebrate with our kids and not worry about dates and things for us. So I honestly never worried about it. She threw me a surprise birthday party over 20 years ago. But my husband wrangled that. And now it is her turn to have a big 6-0 party (unfortunately I cannot be there) and I finally added her birthdate to my calendar. In our more than 30 years as friends, I never knew the date! And it had no bearing on our relationship. Oh, I knew I was older than her and it sort of bugged me, for about a minute, but there are so many other factors that could have gotten in the way, that age truly is a number. The point of this is that our relationship, which has weathered so much over the years, is what is paramount. I know if there is something I need, she would drop everything to be at my side, regardless of how it would mess up her schedule.

Years ago, when my grandmother (who lived with us) passed away, this same friend and her husband rushed to our home to hold me up. I will never forget her squeezing my hand as they wheeled my grandma’s body into that hearse. That is a friend. (I know you will read this and I love you more than you realize). I have two or three of these friends. Women I know who would rush to my side. They depend on me in the same way. They trust me and I trust them. It is a beautiful thing.

Sometimes we offer support to people because it is the right thing to do, but we never expect them to need us. Surprise! Something comes up and we have to decide to honor that commitment or not. In other situations, we may be a leader-figure. A position of authority, formal or otherwise. We attract people to us and they come to rely on us. And sometimes that burden becomes too much. We cannot carry ourselves into tomorrow, let alone save others. Well, that is okay, too. Sometimes we need an emotional time-out or break.

The important thing, I believe, is to honor our commitments. To be the people God has called us to be. To take comfort in the strengths and gifts He has given us. He leads us where we need to go and where we need to be. The Lord is our best friend. Let His example guide you, His promises comfort you, and His love give you rest. Be confirmed that the Lord has not misplaced HIs trust in you. He has not given you these gifts on a whim. He knows you (Psalm 139: 13-14) better than anyone. And on those days when you feel pulled in thousands of directions, call on one of your friends or family members. Just simply say, “Pray for me.” They will take it from there. And the strength of their prayers will bolster you and give you the wisdom you need for the moment. The Lord truly has your back.

 

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