I sat cross-legged in the grass behind her dorm, hunched over and sobbing, fresh off the messy and heartbreaking end of a long relationship. It was one of many times I called her that fall, she was always the one who came just to keep me company while I cried. I couldn’t count the number of times she said things like, “I know you know that God is still there, and I know that doesn’t help right now,” and that willingness to be silent rather than offer platitudes was so needed. We’ve spent more than a few nights this way, one of us in tears and the other one simply there.
We’ve also spent a lot of time at lunches, on walks, sprawled on futons, talking till some other obligation forces us to stop. Our coffee dates have stretched on for hours as we worked through our lives; relationships, theology, doubts.
I could name a million reasons why her life has impacted me so drastically—her wisdom, faith in the face of adversity, love for those under her care, refusal to abandon Jesus no matter how many reasons life may give her. But mostly, I would consider her a spiritual midwife because she is the most honest friendship I’ve ever had.
There’s no pretending to be better than we are, no need to sugar coat the fact that sometimes life sucks and Christians suck and we suck. Despite how much of her depth, devotion and ministry I’ve seen, she’s never tried to pass off the delusion that she’s perfect and she’s never expected me to be. At those times when it felt like every other well-meaning voice chided, “You did that three days ago? You need to pray more, read more, memorize more,” hers was the voice saying, “It’s been three days? I’m proud of you.”
And this real life, raw kind of friendship; being there for the nights of shame and tears and loss as much as the fun and holiness and laughter, is what we need more of.
Do you have a friend (or more than one) like this? Has this kind of friendship been hard for you to find in the church? Tell us about it in the comments!
(This post is part of a synchroblog celebrating Patron Saints and Spiritual Midwives as part of International Women’s Day. To find out what those terms mean and read more great posts celebrating women, head over to the link-up on Sarah Bessey’s blog.)