I was the new kid on the block, except that I was already an adult and was about to turn twenty-one years old. I went from being a military daughter to being a military wife. I arrived in a new state fifteen months after newly arriving in the previous one. Friendships are difficult to develop while one gallivants around the country. Yet, in this newest place, something extraordinary happened—within two months, I was invited over to someone’s apartment for lunch. A young mother of three extended an invitation to me. And this is how the story of her investment in my life began.
I had been married only eighteen months and did not have any children. I came from a different world than this woman did, and even though we were now in the same world, I did not live like she lived. Our family backgrounds were different, our ages were different, our current family situations were different, our careers were different. Whatever could we have in common? Jesus. That is what we had in common. A passion and love for Christ dwelled in each of our hearts, and something magnificent happened when we came together in friendship—He was there in our midst. We moved from being friends to being sisters.
The investment turned from sandwiches and tea to fervent prayers and tears. Tears of joy and tears of sorrow flowed down our faces as we allowed one another to truly see what others had never seen. My friend gave her time, energy, listening ears, and shoulders to cry on. She encouraged me, comforted me, consoled me, and gave me a talking to when I needed it. She saw me at my best, and she saw me at my worst.
Almost 29 years have passed, and this woman has helped mold me into who I am today. She did not do this of her own power but through the power of Christ moving within her and working through her words and deeds. At the times I could barely lift up my head, she lifted it for me. At the times I could barely place one foot in front of the other, she cheered me on. When all I could do was lay in my bed with messy hair and pajamas for my daytime wardrobe, she sat at my bedside while the casserole she had brought cooled on the counter. In my pits of despair, God moved her spirit to touch mine.
Agony in life, marriage, health, parenting, career, grieving, disappointment, and rejection all found her at my side. She was there by phone, by text, by greeting card, and by physical presence, pouring into my woundedness the very things God knew that I needed. Elation in life, marriage, parenting, career, and other arenas found me running to the phone to share the mountaintop experiences with her. She rejoiced with me when I rejoiced, and she wept with me when I wept.
How many hours of herself has she given for me? Countless hours I am sure I will never know about— countless hours spent in prayer—and yet, these ones count as much as the obvious ones. In my heart, I know that at all of these moments I was loved with the love of Christ. Through her life, I see God’s unconditional love, faithfulness, gentleness, kindness, patience, and determination to help me succeed in the things for which He has purposed my life. When she invests in me, she invests in God’s kingdom. She spurs me on to love and good deeds and reminds me of who I am and what I am here for. She is the one who invested, but I am the one who found the treasure.
A friend loves at all times,
And a brother is born for adversity.1
1 Proverbs 17:17 taken from the New King James Version of the Holy Bible, ©1982 by Thomas Nelson.
©Text and photo Francee Strain, May 13, 2022. This is a revised and updated version of an article I wrote in December 2017.
The mug pictured in the photo was gifted to me by this friend.