My family and I were new to our community. The church we’d been attending was having their annual Christmas cantata and I was single-parenting our three kids that day while my husband was at work.
My hands were full trying to entertain two small boys and a toddler daughter on the back pew of the church. All the while keeping the squirming and whining to a minimum. Needless to say, I’d come to the end of my rope and beyond.The stresses of motherhood had come full-circle for me in that short snippet of time.
Though I completely loved being a mom, I was mentally and emotionally drained. The constant bickering of my children left me frazzled and craving a soft shoulder to cry on.
Tears stung my eyes as I yanked them up by the seat of their pants and pushed them back to the foyer. So much for good impressions! The Neace kids had once again successfully ruined a wonderful, sacred moment.
Standing in the back, not wanting to leave, yet feeling uncertain of what to do, the noise of my children’s cries and my frustrated gasps left me flustered and ready to make my exit.
The chaos was broken by this kind, gentle lady who spoke words of reassurance to me that everything would be OK.
"You’ll make it," she said. Not only through this day, but many more like it to come.
Her words were exactly what I needed to hear at my moment of exasperation.
This experience was clearly a defining moment in my life. It caused me to finally accept the fact that I didn’t have any "girlfriends" to talk with and couldn’t remember the last time that I’d laughed with girlish whimsy. This is when I began to talk to God asking Him — no, begging Him — to send me someone that I could spend girl time with.
My answer came several months later in a petite, red-headed package all the way from Florida.
This new friend encouraged me in my prayer life and daily Bible study. Because of our friendship, I grew in so many ways that I hadn’t thought possible.
From the first day I met her, I knew there was something different about her. Instead of
shopping or going to the movies, she asked me to meet her to pray. I was clearly thinking that praying is nice and all that, but throw me a bone for Heaven’s sake. What I needed at that moment was someone to watch my kids while I stole away for a nap!
Pray, however, is what we did. She came to my home and we got on our knees before the Father. Time seemed to stand still as we laid our praises and concerns before His feet. I realized for the first time that naps could never do me as much good as spending time with God. Prayer and Bible study enabled me to have the power and mindset that I needed to deal with the stresses of everyday life. Without it, I was utterly hopeless to do anything in a godly manner such as being a mother, wife, or woman of influence.
We talked a lot about her mentor back home who had made such an impact on her. A friend who was one step ahead in life not only in every day experiences, but spiritually as well. "Do I have one of those?" I asked myself. "Do I need one?" Not realizing that even though this woman was slightly younger than I was, she’d become that mentor-like figure to me during the season that God placed her on my path.
She showed me the importance of close friendships. Bringing to life the words the writer of Hebrews penned in 10:24-25:
And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another — and all the more as you see the Day approaching.
Jesus Himself knew the importance of close friendships. He had a handful of trusted friends that He shared special moments with that He didn’t with others. Sure, there were the crowds and even His disciples that followed Him and learned from Him, but it was the very dear ones like Peter, James, and John the "inner circle" so-to-speak, that meant so much.
As the years have passed and my kids have grown to be wonderful, yet still some times aggravating teenagers, mentoring has become my mission. I’ve found myself becoming a passionate advocate of it. God has allowed me to experience the loneliness and stresses motherhood can create in order to help others in the same situation. He has taught me the importance of prayer and Bible study so that I might encourage others on their journey with Him. I’ve been afforded the opportunity to offer a hug to someone who never felt loved. I’ve listened countless hours to a friend cry and question why God would allow her husband to leave her and her children, yet be able to offer hope and assurance. These are the times that I treasure.
Looking back even now, God reminds me of Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 which says:
Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work. If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up! Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone? Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.
I’m so grateful for the friends God’s brought into my life to "help me up" when I’ve fallen. My hope is that I, too, will be a strong cord for someone who needs to hear "you can make it," when their kids are turning heads at church.