There I sat, scarfing down oily-popcorn, with my eyes bugging open as I starred at the giant screen. Dennis Quaid, playing a secret service agent, was barreling down a Spanish street in a snazzy car as he chased down the bad guys. My adrenaline was pumping, my teeth were chomping, my ears were ringing from the sound effects - and I finally had a smile on my face.
See, it had been a really tough two weeks for me. My children had both been sick with influenza and digestive problems (I'll spare you the gross details) and I'd been completely homebound for 15 days. Night after night of my husband and I getting up with the kids was really wearing on me. I was behind on my work. I was stressed out. I was beginning to feel truly depressed.
I knew that I wasn't just feeling "down." This was different. I was in a persistent funk and it was beginning to weigh heavily. I felt completely unmotivated to do anything. I hadn't been to church at all, hadn't picked up my Bible, and had hardly prayed (beyond entreating God to please make my kids' medication work). I felt sad, stressed out, and very discouraged.
So I sat down with my husband and told him the honest state of my feelings. He responded by kicking me out of the house: "Call up one of your friends," he said. "And go do something fun!"
I rang up Emily. It wasn't a good night for her to go out - she and her husband had begun a woodworking project together and she would also need to nurse her baby. "Would tomorrow night work?" she asked.
But Emily is one of those friends who can read between the lines. I told her honestly that I was feeling depressed - that I didn't just want to go out, but I felt I needed it. And I needed it tonight. So she rearranged her schedule and we made a night of it. A sappy chick-flick was the last thing I wanted. I needed some excitement in my life, and Vantage Point served up plenty of it. We had a great time together, and I went home feeling (happily) jolted out of my virus-infested reality for a few hours.
Going out to the movie didn't change my situation - one of my kids is still sick a week later. But it did help to shake me out of my discouragement. And it wasn't the movie that did it. It was the friendship. It was being able to say to someone: I need your help right now, and this is how I need it. It was being able to drop the charade of the Christian-leader-who-always-has-it-all-together and just be me with my faults and vulnerabilities. It was having a friend who knew and understood the ups and downs of my life as a work-from-home mom.
Sometimes the seemingly least spiritual things can be the most spiritually powerful. Emily didn't quote Bible verses to me that night or pray with me or anything - but she ministered to me powerfully by being an authentic friend. I'm generally a rather independent person, but nights like last Saturday remind me of the importance of interdependence in the body of Christ - and of the spiritually enriching power of Christian friendship.
How about you? Do you have a female friend with whom you can be raw and real? When has God prompted you to let down your guard with someone? How has authentic friendship aided you in your walk with Jesus?