Friendship makes a trip to the hospital to put socks on your feet, which you cannot reach, so you can walk, like the doctor ordered, after your baby was born. Friendship answers the phone call to pray for a child – no details needed, no questions asked – friendship just prays. Friendship helps you give your child that first breathing treatment at home or helps with hand-prints on t-shirts at birthday parties. Friendship brings you a chocolate martini at your son’s wedding – just because. My particular friends enjoy my humor! Friendship knows you at your ugliest and loves you better for it!
One friend had me on her bathroom mirror – my name, that is, on a post-it note. She prayed for me daily. When my husband was in Chicago on business for the entire Fall semester (except for weekends), she brought my family homemade Mac ‘N Cheese. She was over 75 years old. She’s in heaven now and I really miss her. I am glad I had the courage to seek friendship in unexpected places. That’s where you find the best of friends.
I ♥ my friends. They are each gifts from God.
But I had to learn to look for these gifts from God in unexpected places.
If you walk into a crowded room of people you do not know, who do you migrate toward? Do you have a mental list of measurement traits? No! No! Don’t tell me. Just think about it. I think we all do. It is human nature.
I remember doing the same thing….sitting down by someone who looked like they would make a nice friend. Yet, they were not the relationship, the friend God had in store for me. By not looking beyond my expectations, I had missed the Lord’s companion.
I do not mean that I came to expect more. I mean my expectations were re-defined, like Mary’s relationship expectations were re-defined.
Mary had help seeing the companion God provided. An angel told her, “Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be barren is in her sixth month. For nothing is impossible with God” (Luke 1:36,37 NIV).
I do not doubt that Elizabeth would have been the last person Mary would have sought out for companionship and relationship. After all, she was an old woman. Mary’s story speaks to us as clearly as the angel did. The Lord provided an ally, a companion, a friend who understood and believed what the Lord had told her. The catch? Mary had to look beyond her expectations.
Mary heeded the angel. How hungry she must have been to share her burden with someone who could understand. “At that time Mary got ready and hurried to a town in the hill country of Judea” (Luke 1:39 NIV). Elizabeth welcomed and honored her.
God’s guide will welcome your companionship, not scrunch you into a busy schedule or emit a charity-case mentality.
Yet, keep in mind that first, Mary hurried to meet her, and then she greeted her first. You cannot wait for this person to come into your home, sit down, and comfort you. You must prepare your heart through prayer (Mary got ready), move out of your comfort zone of friends (Mary left her town and hurried to a town in the hill country), and then introduce yourself (Mary greeted Elizabeth). Mary could not have known Elizabeth would have received her so warmly, but she took the chance. You need to take that chance, too.
The benefits of fellowship with God’s companion are spiritual blessings. When the two women got together, Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. They were bold about the Lord’s place in their lives. Then, so wonderfully, so simply, Elizabeth encouraged Mary saying, “Blessed is she who has believed that what the Lord has said to her will be accomplished.”(Luke 1: 45 NIV). Mary probably needed someone to tell her she was not crazy, that what happened was real. Who could better understand the condition of Mary’s heart and mind than a woman who had been barren all her life and probably condemned for it! Mary was pregnant and was condemned for it. Yet, here was somebody who understood the power and might of the great I AM.
Mary’s Song is evidence of her belief that God provided peace in a very difficult situation: “My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant…” (Luke 1:46-48 NIV). These two women’s shared common experience enabled them to comfort each other.
Find friends who lift you up when you are down. Comfort comes with encouraging words, not discouraging words. Surround yourself with people who talk about overcoming the challenging, not the stench that created the challenge. Make sure they support! Re-define the expectations of your support group.
The next time you walk into a room full of women, where will your eyes go?