Sunday, November 30, 2008

The Joy of a Friend (Number 10 in a series)

“A friend loveth at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.” Proverbs 17:17 (KJV)

Getting ready for a cross-country move is a major undertaking under any circumstances. Doing it alone, unemployed and concerned for an ailing family member merely adds to the stress level.

As a rule, I am a pretty self-sufficient person. With God’s help, I will tackle most any task. I am reluctant to bother people to ask for help unless I get in a real bind. When friends asked “Do you need any help?” my instant response was “No, everything’s fine.”

As my preparations progressed and timetables had to be revised, I was feeling less fine and more frazzled. In those days, two friends saw through my façade and came to help.

The first is a lady who had been my boss years ago, but had become my friend even when she left the company. When I told Connie I didn’t need any help, her reply was “Well, I’ll come over for moral support. If nothing else, I can help you stack boxes.”

She came, equipped with a big hug and willing hands. In the hours she was there, she helped me shift my focus to the things needing immediate attention and away from the things I couldn’t do yet. A few simple questions helped me set the priorities. More than her physical assistance, the encouragement she gave helped me get back on track at a time when I was feeling overwhelmed.

The second friend is Nancy, a former coworker. Realizing I was eating way too much junk (because it was quick, handy and didn’t need much in the way of preparation), she insisted I come to a home-cooked dinner with her family. I love her kids anyway, so spending time with them wasn’t any hardship. In fact, it was rather a guilty pleasure!

Nancy fed both my body and my spirit. That little bit of “down” time refreshed me and allowed me to get back to work with renewed energy. Like Connie, she gave me the precious gift of herself. Each of them saw a need and stepped in to fill it.

The Bible is filled with references to the importance of friendship. We are told tasks are lighter when shared; we strengthen each other like a bundle of sticks tied together; we share joys and sorrows. Check for “friend” in any concordance and you’ll find plenty of endorsements.

Are you a friend? Do you stick “closer than a brother” (Proverbs 18:24)? Pray for the grace to see how you can give of yourself to your friends, and be a true representation of Christ’s love to them. And don’t forget to thank God for those true friends He sends to you.

© 2008 Mary Beth Magee

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