I missed last week my turn to contribute on friends. This week, talking about bearing one another’s burdens fits along that same line. I’ll sort of combine the two and hope I don’t get too long with it.
I’ve been blessed with many good friends throughout my life. There are my childhood friends like Barbara who I wrote about here. She’s the best. After all these years she still says I’d do anything for you. And she did! My daughter’s van was stranded in Georgia a few miles from their house. She and her husband went and got the van, had it repaired, paid the repairs and waited for my daughter to come back and get it. Money was tight for them, but friendship was tighter. She helped bear that burden.
I’ve had other friends throughout my life who I knew really prayed for me. They saw my struggles and knew the best thing to do for me was to pray. I come from a traditional Pentecostal background. We have this tradition of altar time. Nothing quite like kneeling at a altar pouring your heart out to God and have someone come beside you putting their arms around and crying with you. While God heard my prayer, it seems when two of you cry together before God, it just helps.
I have two very special friends in my life right now that bear my burdens. One is relatively new in my life and the other goes back to my youth – which was a VERY long time ago.
Both of these friends live far away from me. While I have a few people I’d call friends in South Dakota. Some of that are quite wonderful. There the fellow pastor who I have lunch with – there are some wonderful people from the church where I serve as pulpit fill from time to time. I’ve taken them into my heart and some of them seem to have take me into their hearts as well.
Then there is my coffee buddy and dear friend. We meet at McDonalds even though it’s not my favorite and chat for hours, literally hours. She listened with a deep loving heart to my angst and pain about living in South Dakota. Sometimes I have friends who are overly positive but I guess they are good because they balance out my sometimes negativity – she’s one of those friends. She certainly has born a lot of my burdens.
Then there is a new friends, young, passionate about causes and so much like me in her ideas and thoughts. I want to have more time with her but we both are busy. It seems odd to have a friend who is young enough to be your daughter. She challenges me to like where I live and invest in this community. She’s right. This friend says there are burdens we can bear together here in South Dakota and challenges me to join her.
But these other two long distance friends are extra special when it comes to helping bear my burdens. One lives in Connecticut. We met by divine appointment I believe. She’s prayed with me and held me as I cried many times. One time she arranged for a few of her prayer partners to minister to me and pray for me when I still lived in Connecticut. The day was so powerful that I will never forget as I heard that God wanted me. That I was planned from the start. Oh, I knew those things in my head, but my heart didn’t know. That day my heart knew.
Now we live far away from each other and we email. It is always with great delight I open her emails. She shares her heart with me. She shares her struggles in life. I share mine. We try to encourage each other but I think more than that we just care and listen to each other with no judgment. That’s a gift.
Then there is a new old friend. We went to high school together but didn’t know each other. We became friends when I was a single mother trying to raise three small children and go to school. My abusive husband had recently abandoned me. I lived on welfare and food stamps. I lived in a trailer. I was a needy friend in so many ways. Talk about burdens to bear!
She and her roommate helped bear my burdens with love and friendship along with tangible things – like food and a telephone. Imagine living in a trailer in a not so great trailer court with three small children and have no telephone. One day, this friend told me that she and her roommate had decided to pay for a telephone. I’ve never forgotten how I felt that day. No more pay phones.
I lost touch with this friend for probably 30 years. I never forgot her but I never knew where she was either. Recently, thanks to the internet we’ve reconnected. I may not need a telephone any more or some of the other tangible things I needed back then. Now, I need loving support and prayer. My burden is loneliness and depression. Just as she swung into action to get a telephone for me, she has swung into action to pray, listen, and care. She’s bearing this burden now.
I hope that there are people who say these things about me – that I help bear their burdens. I want to pay it back or pay it forward or something. Whose burden can you bear?