I was looking for God. I definitely wasn’t looking for new friends. When it came to meeting new people, I was like a stubborn child, who would stomp her little feet on the floor when she didn’t want to eat her dinner. I loved my friends (still do!), and they were enough. But unbeknownst to me, as I was looking for God, He was discreetly melting my stubborn heart of stone to allow new friendships to begin. One of those friendships was with Jen.
The second time I met Jen, I sat next to her at church and she turned to me and calmly said, “I broke up with my boyfriend this weekend.” I remember wondering how she could be so strong and serene after the break up. Over time, I would learn that her strength was not her own. It came from knowing Jesus.
I have wonderful memories of our friendship growing as we attended retreats and served together in different ministries, talking about the guys we liked, and sharing pizza, pulled pork nachos, and of course, cupcakes. Then there were joyful celebrations like birthdays, engagements, and being in each other’s weddings. And even though she moved to Texas after her wedding, she has remained a constant in my life through the happy times, but also the trying times.
A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for a difficult time.
Psalm 17:17 (HCSB)
Almost two years ago, she was visiting when she shared some really hard circumstances going on in her life. Not long after, my life was turned upside down as well. With us living in different states and craziness everywhere we turned, it would have been easy to let the tough times be an excuse to stop being intentional about investing in our friendship. Instead, that season grew our friendship deeper than it had ever been. We were quick to encourage each other and pray for each other. We began what we called our “FaceTime Small Group,” which was basically our own little book club. My faith grew in ways I couldn’t have imagined – all because God had melted my heart of stone to allow a new friend to walk into my life and my heart.
I cherish the time we have spent worshiping together and the silly texts we share back and forth. I have been blessed when her heart cried for me when I felt insecure. And I will never forget the words she shared with me when I was in the hospital being checked for signs of pre-term labor while I was pregnant with my daughter: “She will be loved and in good hands. The Father’s hands and yours.” At that moment, I knew I wanted her to be my daughter’s godmother. I knew she would love my daughter as much as she loved me.
This week, Jen got to meet Olivia for the first time. Olivia loved her from first site. She smiled at Jen like she had known her forever, and loved to try to hold her hand. It was adorable.
I will take out your stony, stubborn heart and give you a tender, responsive heart.
Ezekiel 36:26 (NLT)
A lot of times we fight what God has in front of us, because we don’t know what He has planned and the unknown can be scary. Sometimes we can resist friendships, and sometimes other opportunities. I never imagined the richness God had in store when He brought Jen into my life, but without her I would have missed out on so many precious memories, joyful adventures, and a friendship that has withstood many odds. I was looking for God and I found a friend…and Him! Because I know my friend Jen, I know and love Jesus more. I am thankful that God knows what we need, even when we don’t. We never know what is before us, but He does, and He can melt our stubborn hearts of stone to allow room for His rich blessings.