Over the past year, I have spent a whole lot of extra time with my dear friend, Gayla, and her family. This may not strike you as odd, except for the fact that her husband, Steve, was diagnosed with cancer almost two years ago. Their family is young. Neither of them are 40 yet and their three kids are all under ten. I have been friends with them for more than a decade. But this season has been different.
When Gayla’s husband was first diagnosed, everyone came rushing in with offers of help and support, as they should. But through the years, the help hasn’t stopped, which has shocked me in all the best ways. Homemade dishes still appear at their house, offers to pay to have their laundry done are still coming in, and there are continuous offers to help with the kids in any way. Personally, I babysit for them to enjoy a date night. I clean their house and fold their laundry and even help her grade papers until the wee hours of the morning.
Can I tell you a secret? These have been some of the sweetest times I have had in a friendship recently. My friendship with them has gone to the next level. We have had conversations about light and hard things. We laugh and cry. We pray and speak truth. We break bread together and share dessert. There has been a new depth of authenticity and vulnerability that has taken place due to the reality of his cancer.
Their kids have even changed my last name to include me in the family. My heart melts! I love this family as if they were my own.
I recently came across Galatians 6 and was impressed by how much instruction is packed in ten short verses. A few of them stood out when it comes to faithfulness in friendship:
We are designed to be carriers of each other’s burdens in friendship.
Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. (Galatians 6:2)
In order to carry something heavy in the spiritual, we need to be strong, mentally, physically and spiritually. We stay prayed up and open to the Spirit’s leading. That is no easy task. I, along with countless other friends, could have offered Gayla and Steve one-time help. We could have felt good about ourselves because we had done our “Christian duty.” We would have gotten pats on the back and a jewel in our crown. But, that is not carrying. That is not walking with someone through a hardship. Carrying could last a couple of steps or it could last for miles. Christ meant for us to be one with each other. We weep with those who weep. We comfort those who need to be comforted. When one hurts, we all hurt.
We are designed to be patient in friendship.
Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. (Galatians 6:9)
We are designed to do good in friendship.
Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers. (Galatians 6:10)
We are called by God to love everyone, to encourage everyone, and to serve everyone, but there is something special about loving on those you are doing life with. I do tons of outreach through my local church. It feels good to meet the needs of the community and to provide tangible acts of God’s love. There is a joy that comes from meeting the needs of those closest to you.
There are few words to describe how satisfied I feel knowing that the Lord did a work through me to bless and encourage my brother and sister in Christ. It is literally a joy that brings tears to my eyes when I think about being a small part of the great story God is writing in their lives.
Steve’s family and friends have rallied around him in prayer and support. We are believing for supernatural healing. As long as the Lord tarries, we are here and we will continue to be here. I don’t always do friendship well, but one thing I can never be accused of is being unfaithful. I am the loyal type. Even so, I can fail. I think many of us want to be loyal and consistent, but life gets in the way. We are so busy doing that we can often neglect those right in our sphere of influence. I have committed to a “Whatever You Need” attitude when it comes to this sweet family. No task is too great or too small. I will arrange and re-arrange my schedule in order to show up. I am in this friendship for the long haul. The road can bend and twist and turn, but I won’t be shaken.
Are there people in your life who need a commitment from you to friendship for the long haul?