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Running side by side

Running side by side

Photo by Michelle

For two months now I have been praying for a friend – someone from my local community where I live my day-to-day life. 

I have been in this country for more than two years now and have seen God provide friendships in many ways. I am grateful for all of them:  the mentor, the cut-loose friend, the friend on the phone from home, the new believers in the church, and of course, God Himself. All of these are great and very valuable friends. But there is a growing burning in me that is almost unbearable; a deep desire for a local friend.

I am so in love with the people here in Portugal. Specifically, three ladies that I have been getting to know over the last two years. Inês, a mom from my daughter’s ballet class, Sonja, my son’s second grade teacher who against ‘normal’ culture has allowed me to sit in on her class one day a week and Vera, my other son’s first grade teacher (who followed the example of Sonja and lets me sit in on her class).

Recently I realized that I love these ladies more then I thought I did. While writing their names in my prayer journal I was overcome with the truth that I would die for them. I felt overwhelmed because I have been pursuing these three women for many years and felt not one of them had responded.  

I know there are the expected barriers like language, time, and the enemy, but there is something about these three ladies that takes my heart away – makes me pursue them. For the last few years Christ has ushered me in to be a light in their dark world. But now, I feel ready for more.

When I began praying for a local friend I was thinking that maybe one of these three would become my person holding the title of “friend.” I specifically thought it would be my son’s second grade teacher, Vera, as there seemed to be a more natural connection with her. However, in God-like fashion, I kept dreaming about my other son’s teacher, Sonja, which struck me as strange because I had a less natural connection with her. In fact, most of the time, I am just in her presence. Honestly – I sit awkwardly right next to her, without speaking, during our coffee break without drinking any coffee. Other times, I take the risk of feeling like an absolute idiot and speak, or just finding myself quietly standing in the back of her classroom. 

Last week as I was sitting quietly in the back of her class I said something short and casual as she walked by. She laughed a small laugh that turned into a big picture in my heart. I immediately saw the two of us running and in the picture it was clear that I was running beside her; silently keeping stride with her every step. We ran and ran and ran, side by side, together; then she looked at me and it hit me. I already was her friend. Because a friend is someone loyal, faithful, present and willing to persevere through it all with you.

I love that God used the picture of running for a few reasons.  One being that when I run I don’t talk which is also how it is with this teacher. So though from my perspective and definition of ‘friend’ I don’t FEEL like I am breaking down walls and entering into a friendship, but God has a different perspective of this friendship and I actually am in fact her friend. The second reason is because it takes work, faithfulness and perseverance to run. The picture made me realize that what I was feeling wasn’t true.  Like when I run and my muscles feel like they are melting away, but they’re not, they are actually building. Or as I am running I feel like I can’t breathe but actually my blood is taking in more oxygen than it would if I were standing still. 

We all feel like something is one way and not the other, especially when we are out on the field.  We let our feelings hold us hostage and therefore we don’t move forward in the truth; in the reality. 

So this week I chose to go back to Sonja’s class with the courage God gave me and let go of the feeling and embrace the reality. Our coffee time together felt more natural then it ever had; leaving me hopeful.

What are you feeling about your current season that isn’t true, and how can you let go of that feeling and embrace the reality? 'Feeling' is not a bad thing but if it’s not true it should be let go.

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