I find it so interesting--don't you?--how people become real friends. I met Michelle (Chel, as we call her, thanks to Clementine) because we joined Daleen's and Ray's small group when Chel was pregnant with Camden and I was pregnant with Clementine. I liked Chel, always, but struggled a little in getting to know her; she's a quiet one.
Ray and Daleen moved to North Carolina, and the small group stopped meeting until Jim told me, one day: he felt like we should get the small group back together and host. I got on board immediately because 1) it was unusual (out of character, even) for Jim to want to host, so I knew it was a God thing, and 2) I missed our small group.
The small group had been back together for a few months when--in November 2010--I overheard Sharon praying over the phone while she and I were driving up Afton Mountain in my minivan. I was unbelievably blessed in being her captive audience and felt called, on the spot, to work toward becoming someone who--while on the phone--says, not: I will be praying for you, but, instead: let me pray with you right now.
I shared my new calling with our small group, after which Chel said, softly: "I'd like to you give you some practice." And, sure enough, she started calling and sharing so I could pray with her.
Chel is private and--as I've already mentioned--quiet, so I haven't words to express how honored I felt by her sharing, how blessed by her trust. After years of our being acquainted, something happened during those phone conversations and prayers; in my heart, the bond that formed felt very nearly physical.
Chel and I started spending time together on close to a weekly basis. Clementine calls Camden her "BFBF." (Why the extra "B," I can't tell you). Chel treats my daughters with the love of an aunt. It's no small thing; the Galyon girls ain't no joke!
Among my friends, Chel is, by far, the gentlest. I've never seen her anything but entirely calm, regardless of circumstances. I know she'll be waiting for me, radiating sweetness, when I get there (a day late and a dollar short, as always).
And Chel will probably hate my writing about her as much as she hates my posting lake pictures of her, on facebook, but she'll forgive me because she'll recognize: I'm writing our story to encourage others.
When we know the Lord, He cares about every detail of our lives. I believe He's especially concerned with our friendships. His plan includes placing people in our lives who will nudge us closer to Him.
Sometimes, the friends the Lord has in mind for us differ from those toward whom we would naturally gravitate. In my mind, this makes sense because we can learn so much from people (other Christians, especially!) who have different abilities, experiences, gifts, passions, and personalities than we.
I think it's so important--when it comes to friendships--to keep our hearts and minds open. I've been guilty of laziness: of neglecting to put myself out there because I've such good friends, already, and so many of them. A real friendship requires time and energy. But I've learned: when the Lord's in the center, the investment is worth it, and a deep bond can form very quickly.
These thoughts rest in the forefront of my mind because, today, the girls and I met Chel and Camden at the Children's Museum. Two days into my miscarriage, I met my friend a little ragged, a little raw. And my newish friend--just in being herself--ministered to me in a way that no one else could have, today. Her easy presence, her soft smile: these things felt like a balm and a salve. Maybe even a patch.
I'm so thankful.