by Liz Holst
It all started when my husband and I sensed God’s call to move away from where we were living, to a new city and a new church. The excitement, expectation and allure of something new overshadowed the fear of the unknown. We eagerly looked forward to what God had in store for us as a family. When there were moments of doubt, we would rehearse Mark 10:29–30 to each other:
“Truly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands, for my sake and for the gospel, who will not receive a hundredfold now in this time, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions, and in the age to come eternal life.”
These words from Jesus helped to remind us of the promises of God to those who were faithful to his call.
What About Friends?
Then one day, in the midst of the excitement of selling our home, packing boxes and looking for a new home, it hit me: I can’t pack my girlfriends into a box and move them with me. I would be lying if I said I didn’t have second thoughts at this point. These were women who watched my children, women who would sit at the park with me for hours as our children ran and played together, women who drank coffee and played Scrabble with me. These women were my friends! Did the promises found in Mark 10 apply to friends too? After all, I am a woman and I long for friendship. Did God care about the longing in my heart for close female companionship?
I can honestly say that yes, God did and does care about my need for female companionship, but those friends didn’t come along right away. There was a long, lonely season after we moved. My husband traveled frequently, women at our new church were busy and I questioned whether I would ever have dear friends again. I remember asking God if there might be even one woman who would want to have a cup of coffee together once in a while. The answer seemed to be, “Not yet.”
Oh the waiting was so hard—and yet, so worth it.
When the Call Came
It did feel like I waited forever. Thankfully, I had a dear friend from our previous home that, in spite of the distance, checked in with me. She was a lifeline, an ever present reminder that my friends did not have to be in the same place. To this day, we are still friends, upholding one another in prayer, rejoicing and weeping together, even drinking an occasional cup of coffee together plus getting that game of Scrabble played. That helped, but certainly didn’t feel like a long-term answer to my prayers.
Then one day the call came. “Would you like to be a part of our birthday group? We don’t get together often, but we do celebrate birthdays and were just wondering if you would like to join us?”
Would I like to join them? I remember holding the phone and feeling the tears drip down my cheek. Who knew that this would be the beginning of a group of women that, to this day, I drink coffee with twice a month? Such a sweet providence of God!
In all of this, what have I learned about friendship? How has God encouraged me? Here are five gleanings from my season of waiting for friendship that I’ve found apply in less dramatic circumstances as well.
1. Take a Risk
Many times I haven’t wanted to walk into that coffee shop, but as I walked out afterward, I was so thankful that I did. God brings new people into our lives at just the right time. It may be a lifelong friend with whom you discover new depths, or it may just be a one-time coffee date. Either way, God chooses to put women in our lives to enrich us, both to challenge and encourage us. Without taking that risk, we may miss some sweet fellowship.
2. Forget Age Limits
Multigenerational friends are a great gift. I am thankful for all of the women in my life, whether they are my age or not. I need the insights shared with me from the younger generation as well as those more seasoned women in life.
3. Think Outside the Box
We all are prone to developing set ideas about where we will find our friends. My challenge to you is this: Keep your eyes and heart open. The library. School. Church. Homeschool co-ops. How about the grocery store or the neighborhood park? These are just a few examples of places where God has been gracious in my life to bring me dear friends. Where might he do the same for you?
4. Be a Friend
Someone once said to me, “Having friends is such hard work!” That might be true, but it is so worth it. Of course, the age-old counsel is that in order to have a friend, you need to be a friend. Often we need to take the initiative to be friend-like to someone else before they are friend-like toward us; someone has to go first. And besides, the joy that comes from being a friend to someone is priceless.
5. Trust God
Trusting that God has a good and perfect plan for you in friendship is the bottom line. He has created us in such a way that we long for fellowship, so will we trust that he will provide that female companionship that we desire? I believe he will—even though it may not come when we want it or how we want it.
That friend you long for may be praying for you right now, asking that God would bring a new friend into her life. Don’t despair. Trust that God will do a work in your life by supplying just the right person, or people, in his perfect timing.
Liz Holst lives in the Twin Cities with her husband, Dan, and their youngest, Anders. They have three other children (Anika, Erik, and Mari) and a grandchild on the way. Dan serves as a campus pastor at Bethlehem Baptist Church.