Friendships with Impact
By Rhonda Rhea
It’s always nice to have friends who will help you up. Well actually, to laugh uproariously for several minutes first and then make merciless fun of you for years. But at least they do help you up somewhere in-between. Would it surprise you to learn that the number one problem ministry wives report regarding life in the ministry is loneliness? Numero uno. Surrounded by people, yet still feeling isolated. Has it happened to you? Now at least you know you’re not the only one. And all-too-often a ministry wife gets hurt in a friendship and vows to never try it again. More isolation. More loneliness. More frustration, heartache—even depression.
We were created with a need for connection. It’s in our blueprints. You need a girlfriend. You need more than your Facebook friends. Sometimes you need a flesh-and-blood, have-coffee-with-you, call-you-for-no-reason, hold-you-accountable, go-shopping-with-you, let-you-crab-about-how-much-weight-you’ve-gained, laugh-with-you, cry-with-you, real-live girlfriend. We simply can’t get away from the truth that we were designed by our Creator with that need deeply imbedded into our makeup—and no, by “makeup” I’m not really talking “concealer.”
Could I encourage you not to conceal or ignore that connection need? While all of us will experience times in life when close friendships are fewer and farther between, we need to do everything we can to make those seasons short. Sometimes that means we have to make the first move. Make the effort. Sometimes it means we have to learn to trust again even after we’ve been hurt. Take the risk.
I love the reminder in Eccl. 4:9-10, “Two are better than one because they have a good return for their labor: if either of them falls down one can help the other up, but pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up” (vv. 9-10, HCSB). You never know when you’re going to need a pick-me-up. Find yourself a bud.
Proverbs 18:24 also makes a thought-provoking point. “One who has unreliable friends soon comes to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.” There are times when it’s not enough to simply have someone standing by. Those surfacey kinds of acquaintances will come and go in our lives. But there is a true and lasting blessing in a friend who’s with you through all your ups and downs; through every victory and through every tumble. And there’s great blessing in becoming that kind of friend to someone as well.
In all the varied happenings of ministry life, we need each other—whether we’ve just taken a header, or sometimes just as much when we’re gracefully tiptoeing along. I find myself thankfully aware of times when close friends offered godly counsel or encouraged me to seek the Lord. I remember well times friends spurred me on or inspired me to walk closer to Christ by their godly example. And yes, I still remember those times a friend helped scrape me off the pavement after a spill.
If you’re experiencing one of those seasons in life when a close friend is not as accessible, keep on praying, asking the Lord to send a bud your way. He might drop one right in front of you. Maybe even in a church hallway.
Meanwhile, Ps. 37:23-24 tells us that, “The LORD makes firm the steps of the one who delights in him; though he may stumble, he will not fall, for the Lord upholds him with his hand.” Whether there is a friend nearby or you’re waiting for one, the Lord is never absent or inattentive. Even if there’s a bit of a spill, we’re lovingly held.
True friends? They’re a blessed bonus. It’s amazing how the Lord can use them to have an impact on our lives for Him.