“A friend loves at all times, And a brother is born for adversity” (Pro 17:17).

Third Provision: A Friend’s Listening Heart

I called my friend Beth, to give her the go-ahead to host the New Year’s party that year, because I and my (then) husband (now long deceased) wouldn’t be doing it.

“Are you all right?” she asked. “You don’t sound right.”

I started telling her how it was. I began in what I thought was nonchalance, but halfway through the second sentence, my mouth went incoherent.

I couldn’t talk! My tongue felt thick and swollen, and wouldn’t cooperate. My lips refused to rightly form words. I sounded like a bad drunk—though I was as sober as you can get! And though the words were somehow stuck, the thoughts were racing at full speed.

So there I sat: awash in postpartum hormones, without funds, job, car, prospects, answers, or family nearby (whom I didn’t even want to know how things had gotten), and winter coming on. And now with my best friend intently listening, my tongue couldn’t find itself to tell the tale!

Fourth Provision: The Chance to “Dump” a Burden

“Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ” (Gal 6:2).

“… Better a neighbor nearby than a brother far away” (Pro 27:10, NIV).

“Sit still. Don’t move,” my friend said. “I’ll be right there.”

She jumped in her car and drove the few miles between our houses, and sat with me, across the kitchen table. Then, at last, with her caring eyes meeting mine, I dumped my burden, right in front of her.

Never underestimate the value of just listening as a caring friend. Beth didn’t have any answers. She didn’t try to give any, then–except to offer a room where baby and I could stay if worse came to worst. She just sat and listened, and encouraged me to spill it all. And cared.

And that was all I needed then. That was just what I needed.

Galatians 6:2-5 tells us to share one another’s burdens, even as it says each person must bear his own load. I had a multi-layer load to bear myself. In so doing, I would develop new strengths. But the emotional overload, the need to lay the circumstances out in view for assessment: that’s the kind of burden that grows incredibly lighter in the spreading around.

Under the weight of my confusion and seeming helplessness, I had let my home go to wrack and ruin. The mess was looking more like an unconquerable Everest every day. But after my dumping session with my friend, I found new strength to attack that mountain bit by bit, doing one little thing, then another—starting right after I waved her goodbye.

All this of course gave no practical solution to my material problems still looming large. But with other eyes sharing the ugly view, I gained a wider viewpoint, and a vague hope of new beginning, of practical answers hiding somewhere, yet not impossible to find.

What I didn’t realize then was that  those practical answers had been lying within me all along. I just needed the right memory jog to pull them out…

[Next two posts: The Provision of Wisdom and Guidance, and The Provision of Remembrance]