When I hung up the phone that day, I had no idea that I had just been speaking to my future best friend. New in town with two preschoolers in tow, I’d recently attended an open house for a new MOPS group, where I met Karen, one of the coordinators. She was calling to follow up on my interest in joining the leadership team. Little did I know that as our conversation unfolded, God was working behind the scenes to fulfill one of the greatest longings of my heart.
Friendships have always been a struggle for me. Growing up with no sisters and few friends as a child, it wasn’t until college that I really started to form close friendships. After I got married, we moved long distance every few years, so my friendships kept getting disrupted. I had friends, but never had a true best friend, a “bosom friend” in the words of Anne of Green Gables.
So as the dust settled after yet another long-distance move, I prayed for friends. I prayed I could connect with other mums, and that I wouldn’t feel alone. I didn’t pray for a best friend. But God knew the desires of my heart and was unfolding his plan to answer a prayer that I was hesitant to even voice.
After that initial phone call with Karen, our lives began to intersect. We served on MOPS leadership, our families got together on occasion, and we spent time getting to know each other. We started to be transparent with our problems and what God was doing our in lives. And God began to knit our hearts together.
At first glance, we didn’t seem to have much in common. She was several years older, with kids older than mine. She was settled in her church and community. I had moved from two states away and didn’t know anyone. We lived on opposite sides of town. Our family backgrounds could not have been more different.
Over time, however, it was apparent that God had placed us purposefully into each other’s lives as a gift to the other. We began to have similar struggles and were able to encourage and lift each other up. Her husband went through a long and difficult career crisis; then mine did. We both had a child who could be challenging and required extra wisdom and parenting finesse. We took turns going to physiotherapy for injuries.
We also supported each other through painful journeys not shared. Our family underwent a devastating financial hardship, including a period of unemployment. She went through an intense health ordeal and continues to experience strange symptoms that baffle her doctors.
Through it all, God allowed our friendship to play a beautiful role in strengthening our faith, our marriages, our parenting and our relationship with him. So often in the midst of deep suffering, Karen was a rock I could cling to. She listened as I poured out my heart, prayed for me, encouraged me and was a sounding board for tough decisions. When she was hurting, I was privileged to do the same for her.
As I look back over the years since we met, I am often amazed by God’s goodness to us in giving us both the gift of each other. And in times of trouble, I am greatly comforted to know that God knew the deepest desires of my heart and chose to bless me with a sister friend.