(The Woven Women’s Ministry talk I shared last month at game night is one I thought you may find helpful as well.)
It has been a very challenging year and a half with COVID and the aftermath of impact it is having on our lives, and especially on our need for connection.
I read a verse this week that brought me back to the heart of God’s purpose for us in relationship – “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.” – 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 (NKJV)
I don’t know about you, but I have needed a friend and needed to be a friend so much lately.
Just in the past few weeks…
- One friend had a miscarriage
- One friend calledl 9-1-1 and committed her daughter to a mental hospital
- One discovered hidden empty bottles of alcohol all over her house and realized her husband is an alcoholic
- Another has an adult child that is an addict, continues to struggle, and went to jail
- One checked their mom into a facility to provide dementia care
- One lost her father in a sudden tragic motorcycle accident
- Another lost her mother to cancer
- One found out her daughter’s first time resulted in a sexually transmitted disease
- Another feels overlooked and underappreciated at work
And then there’s me…
Attending this get together was a part of me finding my way back to trusting friendship as a valuable and necessary part of my life. We are designed for connection and relationship, to comfort one another as we have needed to do over this crazy year, but there were quite a few years where I had my guard up when it came to building meaningful friendship due to past hurts.
When I chose to get divorced almost ten years ago, I experienced some very painful breaks in family and friendship that caused me to avoid church events, women’s groups, and even invites to hang out. I was hurt deeply by lies that were told about me and judgement that came my way for leaving my husband. So, I took on a fierce independence that served me well as I overcame the hardships of divorce, being a single parent with 100% custody and no child support and moving to another state to rebuild my life.
I saw my independence as a badge of honor. But I am learning that it has also been a response to my heartache in broken relationships.
I needed connection. I needed hope. I needed healing. And I needed friendship. We all do.
I was in the midst of one such frustration one afternoon earlier this year when I found out my son’s basketball game was cancelled, and his team had to quarantine due to an exposure from another team.
“What are you doing tonight?” a work colleague and new friend texted.
“Nothing.” I replied, still bitter at the cancellation of the game. (I love cheering on my boy at his sport).
“Wanna come to my IF table? It’s like salve for your soul.”
I didn’t know what that was, but she knew I needed healing. And she knew I needed Jesus.
Her invitation that day reminded me of a Bible story in Mark 2.
Mark 2:1-12 (New Living Translation)
When Jesus returned to Capernaum several days later, the news spread quickly that he was back home. Soon the house where he was staying was so packed with visitors that there was no more room, even outside the door. While he was preaching God’s word to them, four men arrived carrying a paralyzed man on a mat. They couldn’t bring him to Jesus because of the crowd, so they dug a hole through the roof above his head. Then they lowered the man on his mat, right down in front of Jesus. Seeing their faith, Jesus said to the paralyzed man, “My child, your sins are forgiven.” But some of the teachers of religious law who were sitting there thought to themselves,“What is he saying? This is blasphemy! Only God can forgive sins!”
Jesus knew immediately what they were thinking, so he asked them, “Why do you question this in your hearts?Is it easier to say to the paralyzed man ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or ‘Stand up, pick up your mat, and walk’?So I will prove to you that the Son of Man has the authority on earth to forgive sins.” Then Jesus turned to the paralyzed man and said,“Stand up, pick up your mat, and go home!”
And the man jumped up, grabbed his mat, and walked out through the stunned onlookers. They were all amazed and praised God, exclaiming, “We’ve never seen anything like this before!”
I was that lame man, and my friend knew that the best she could do was to bring me to Jesus for the healing I needed. She knew that Jesus would be evident to me through the kindness, listening, and connectedness I found at the dinner table that night.
We are here to be in relationship with God and with each other. And we can comfort one another with the comforts God has given to us.
The best I can do as your friend is to carry you to hope, to Jesus, the One who heals and forgives.
Scripture quotations marked (NKJV) are taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
Scripture quotations marked (NLT) are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright ©1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.