Wednesday, March 9, 2011

I WANT A FRIEND LIKE THAT! Pure Encouragement

"For one swim meet, I was the comforter in lane five, which is on the far side, away from the parents. Jessie, my camper was getting tired. 'You're doing great, Jessie. You can make it. Keep going,' I yelled. I could tell she was about to cry as she looked at the long expanse in front of her. She went under for a second, not like she was drowning, but like she was going to give up and turn around. 'Look at me, you're so close! You can make it to me!' She shook her head at me, and she got scared and started to panic and swallowed a big gulp of water, so I jumped in and swam toward her. If she touched me, she would be disqualified, but if she just stayed next to me, knowing that I was there if she needed me, she could make it to the end...

I swam right next to her, without touching her, very slowly, and as we swam, I talked to her in a quiet voice. I said to her, over and over, 'You're tough, Jessie. You're tough and you can make it. I'm right here, but you can make it.' When we got to the end and she touched the wall, I pulled her out of the water, and she was so tired, floppy and teary, but the first thing she did was look up at her mom and wave.

After the meet, Jessie's mom came to find me as I was closing up the pool. She held my arm and looked right into my eyes. 'Until you have kids of your own, you will never know what this is like. As a mom, all I wanted to do was run down the bleachers and jump in with my clothes on to finish that race with my daughter, and I'm so glad you did.'

That's what friendship looks like to me. Friendship (and encouragement) is acting out God's love for people in tangible ways. We were made to represent the love of God in each other's lives, so that each person we walk through life with has a more profound sense of God's love for them...When we do the hard, intimate work of friendship, we bring a little more of the divine into daily life."

Wow, I want a friend like that! More than that though, I can be a friend to someone else who is struggling. This a beautiful picture of pure encouragement.

This story is from one of my favorite books, Cold Tangerines by Shauna Niequest.

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