Last night I had a dream where I was in a grocery store parking lot. I had loaded my car with the groceries and my two sidekicks, Taylon and Kamryn. As I was slipping into the driver’s seat, I heard a woman’s voice and laughter. I stopped and said aloud to myself, “That sounds like Beth.” I looked around the sparsely occupied parking lot and spotted an old blue pickup truck. There leaning on the bed was Beth. She was arranging a group of people to take a picture. I jumped into my vehicle and gingerly made my way across the parking lot, ignoring the lanes and driving straight across the parking spaces. I parked and hopped out making my way to what I knew would be a joyous reunion. I woke up.
I wanted to fall back asleep to find out what would happen next, what would she say, and how hard would I laugh when she said it. As I lay in bed hoping to fall back asleep, I thought about the people God has placed in my life and smiled. Of all the people I know and love, my friendship story with Beth may be the one that helped me the most in getting to know God better.
Beth and I met in the late 1980’s. We were both police dispatchers. I will never forget the first time I met her. It was the graveyard shift one winter night. She was dressed in a periwinkle colored sweater dress. I was dressed in my blue polyester uniform. I knew the moment I spoke at length with her that we shared something in common that would bind us forever—we were both Christians and we were both preachers’ wives. If we had cell phones that took pictures back then, I can imagine the selfies we would have taken. We would be laughing headset to headset at the side-by-side radios. Another selfie would be of us sharing a cassette cover of the latest Sandi Patti new release. We would have a selfie taken at a small country church where I went to hear her sing her rendition of a Sandi Patti song. There would be a selfie of us hugging goodbye when I moved to San Diego.
We had some wonderful times, but what I appreciate the most about our friendship is the lesson God taught me about Him through our connection. A well-meaning Christian once told me that God did not hear my prayers after critiquing my technique. As a young Christian, I was self-conscious about praying out loud and had often wondered if God heard me. I believed the critique and did not pray with much confidence after the “constructive” criticism. In fact, I rarely prayed after that. Why should I, if God didn’t hear me?
One day God lead me to a Bible study in which the author encouraged readers to start a prayer journal. She said the best way to know if your prayers are answered is to write them down. So I went out and bought a notebook and began to write down my prayers. I developed a collection of prayer journals over the next few years.
In the meantime, my friendship with Beth continued to grow even though we were over a thousand miles apart. That was when we paid for long distance calls so we didn’t get to talk often. That’s another selfie we could take—us talking on the phone catching up on the latest happenings in our lives. I learned that she was experiencing so many transitions in her life over those phone calls. A scary transition that I didn’t know how to react to was that she was experiencing kidney failure and would eventually need a transplant. After a soft cry, I wrote in my prayer journal that my friend needed a kidney and left it in God’s hands.
I eventually moved back to Texas and our friendship continued with many selfie opportunities. She was there to listen to me experience my transition from preacher’s wife to widow. I was there to hear about her transition from wife to divorcee. We would have selfies at a friend’s house where we gathered to watch Pretty Woman. Our husbands would not have approved and we would be having the time of our lives.
As the next few years passed, we supported each other through being single again and then one day the call came. Beth was getting a kidney. The next few selfies would be of me trying to get past the nurses in the hospital by claiming to be Beth’s sister. I really need to see for myself that she was doing well. I would have a selfie of my pouty face when a nurse told me she had met all of Beth’s family and I wasn’t family. There would be a selfie of us laughing about the nurse’s reaction when Beth told her I was her sister and a selfie showing my relief that I finally got to see my friend. Laughing with her let me know that everything was going to be alright.
On my way home from the hospital, I remembered I had written down her kidney transplant as a prayer. Back at home, I found that specific prayer journal and began to pour of over the pages. I started making a list of prayers that had been answered and reality set in. God had always been listening to me. I didn’t need a special technique, I just needed to show up and believe.
I am so grateful for all of my friendships. I could share a lesson God has taught me through all of them. When God gives you friends, they will be there for you if not in body, they will be there in spirit and prayer. I don’t get to spend time with the people I have formed friendships with very often these days, but I haven’t forgotten anyone. I still love them and wish them well. I think about their families and pray that all is well with them.
Send your friends a smile today. Share a memory. Say a prayer for them. Thank God for the gift of friendship.
Proverbs 27:9 (NLT)
Oil and perfume make the heart glad, and so does the sweetness of a friend that comes from his earnest counsel.