After attending our first Mass in our new parish in Maryland we introduced ourselves to our priest. We chatted for a few moments and he then asked if he could do anything to help us settle into our new community. I jumped at the offer and asked if he knew of any local homeschoolers we could hook up with. His eyes lit up, “I have the perfect person to introduce you to!” He walked us over to a lovely woman loading her half dozen children into a very large passenger van. He quickly introduced me to Sam, a life long resident of our new community who’d grown up in this particular parish.
We exchanged the usual pleasantries and Sam inquired, “So, are you planning on staying here permanently?” I explained we were a military family and did not know how long we’d be stationed in the DC area. She then promptly replied, “Oh, I can’t be your friend then. I get too attached to people and my friends can never move away.”
Honestly, I don’t know how serious Sam really was because her words did not match her actions. Over the course of the 11 years we remained in that community our friendship slowly took root. In those years we attended the same parish, ran in the same homeschooling circle, celebrated birthdays, baptisms, First Holy Communions, and confirmations together. We established and enjoyed mutual friendships with several other moms in our parish and homeschooling group.
Sadly, the inevitable happened. My husband retired from the military and we decided to move back west. We had put down deep roots in Maryland, especially within our parish family. Pulling up those roots was one of the most difficult things I’ve ever had to do. Our friends threw us a lovely going away party and as a parting gift everyone in attendance recorded a special message on a DVD. It was several months after our move before I could bear to watch the outpouring of years of friendships in those messages.
Stretching the definition of friendship
Reestablishing myself in a parish and homeschooling group in Utah was tough. I’m an introvert at heart and making new friends does not come easily or naturally to me. God bless Sam, who kept in touch over text messages every so often. Over time Sam created a group text that grew to include four more of our mutual friends, who coincidentally had also moved away from that tight knit community in Maryland. This group has been an absolute treasure. These women are all such diverse, faithful, and supportive friends. At least weekly we hear from each other. We pray for each other, lift each other up and inspire each other. As Jenn, one of our members put so nicely–“This group has been a blessing to deepen faith, prayer, and home life and just knowing you are connected with others that love being Catholic and family as much as we do especially at times when the world deflates you.”
This group of friends, spread across countless miles, has become my life line. It’s been an enormous comfort knowing I have an army of prayer warriors at my fingertips who very often are walking out the door to attend Mass or adoration just as a texted prayer request has come through. We have prayed each other through job searches, moves, home sales, marriages of adult children, births, deaths, illnesses, surgeries, fractured relationships, tribulations and triumphs. We have seen miraculous answers in many of these prayer battles.
Each of these dear ladies has taught me important lessons in being available, trusting in prayer, and being vulnerable enough to share my needs. They have shown me the need for strong, holy friendships; and while we have been uprooted from a place, we remain rooted in Christ. Godly friendships are vital because they encourage spiritual growth and remind us we are not alone. More importantly they remind us that God does indeed answer our prayers. He heals the sick, comforts the afflicted, and stretches our capacity to love.
What the Bible and Saints have to say
Women today have a great need for holy friendships which inspire, support, and lift them up. The Bible has much to say about good, sanctifying friendships:
The heartfelt counsel of a friend is as sweet as perfume and incense.–Proverbs 27:9
Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed. If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble. Likewise, two people lying close together can keep each other warm. But how can one be warm alone? A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken.–Ecclesiastes 4:9-12
My intercessor is my friend as my eyes pour out tears to God; on behalf of man he pleads with God as one pleads for a friend.–Job 16:20-21
My command is this: Love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this: to lay one’s life down for the life of one’s friends. –John 15:12-13
Many saints have also expressed the benefits of virtuous friendship:
God sends us friends to be a firm support in the whirlpool of struggle. In the company of friends we will find strength to attain our sublime ideal. –Saint Maximilian Kolbe
Love everyone with a strenuous love based on charity, but form friendships only with those who can share virtuous things with you. — St. Francis de Sales
The inner life of another that is known to God alone becomes to a much less degree open to us through friendship. It partially fills the desire of our incomplete, lonely hearts for completeness in another. Friendship brings out the best in a person through forgetfulness of self. –Saint Thomas Aquinas
God graced Sam with the ability to stretch her own definition of friendship to include those across the miles. Because of her trust we all have each other. God bless my good, holy, faithful friends; Sam, Jomary, Debbie, Jenn, and Katie. I love you all and I am eternally grateful for your love and support. What a grand reunion we have to look forward to someday. God’s Will be done.