“A faithful friend is a sturdy shelter; he who finds one finds a treasure.” Sirach 6:14
The largest obstacle I had to overcome in the process of becoming a stay-at-home mom was, well, staying at home. I am very social by nature and the isolation was extremely depressing and lonely. As a young newlywed it completely took me by surprise that I was doing exactly what I wanted to do and yet felt so terribly sad while doing it. Looking back with 20 years of hindsight I can see that it was a setup for failure if it had not been for the grace of God. I didn’t enjoy cooking or cleaning. Laundry was an unbelievably boring and sometimes nasty job as well. The baby was adorable, but she slept a lot and wasn’t much of a conversationalist–although I spoke to her constantly and about everything in our world. I came to realize that I needed friends, girl friends that were in the same place in life as myself so that we could encourage and support each other and “use up our words” as my husband would say. I had a neighbor with a little boy the same age as Lauren and we spent countless hours together going to the park and playing with the kids. A move across town would prove that friendship weak and the distance soon ended the relationship.
I prayed for God to send me a friend so that I wouldn’t be as lonely. At the time, I had three young children and had lost two others to miscarriage. We desperately wanted more children, but it did not seem to be part of God’s plans, at least for the five years in the desert of infertility. Little did I know that God would give me children during that time through my friends. On any given day I had no less than a dozen children in my home or yard. Even before I had 6 more of my own, I could be seen going to church or the store with 6 or 8 kids in tow. It made my heart happy. My friends and I had formed a babysitting network within our circle that allowed us to go to doctor’s appointments, the store or on a date without taking kids along. I have even had the luxury of sick days where I could rest and recover while my children played safely at a friend’s home for the day.
But, these friendships go beyond meeting the physical needs of one another. These friendships feed me spiritually in a way that I have never been fed before. I have been privileged to walk with friends through personal, intimate and painful life events. Words cannot express the blessings of being trusted in such moments of vulnerability. I have been to funerals for babies whose lives were too short by human standards. I have cried with friends while their marriages tumbled on sharp and rocky ground. And I have helplessly listened while a friend wept as her child lay in the hospital in critical condition. I have praised God when that child miraculously recovered, when the marriages were healed, and for the little saints in heaven that are now our intercessors. The living children are growing up and a few have gone off to college, others are beginning High School or getting their driver’s licenses. I have been to their Baptisms, First Communions and Confirmations. It has amazed me to be a part of so many lives, especially to watch the children through all stages. I have newer friendships and older ones. I have friends that I still see weekly and those that are once a year visits. Some I keep up with on Facebook and others through the annual Christmas card. One friend recently bought the house across the street! Our lives ebb and flow, but the true friendships just pick up right where you left off.
If a faithful friend is a treasure, then I am rich beyond belief. Donald Trump, Oprah Winfrey and Bill Gates ain’t got nothing on me! Thank you, God for answering my small plea for a friend with such abundance.