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BRAVE: Finding Those Kindred Spirits

“Kindred spirits are not so scarce as I used to think. It’s splendid to find out there are so many of them in the world.”

– L.M. Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables

There have been times in life when a friend, a kindred spirit seemed very far away. A loss, a move, a betrayal, we all feel the pain of loneliness at times. It’s a very real emotion. I heard a sermon on the importance of friends on the weekend and I’m preparing a message for Mother’s Day.  It got me thinking.

When I really start to think about it, I realize like Anne, that there are far more kindred spirits than I give credit for. My life has been blessed with them. Sometimes I didn’t even recognize them until much later. Some have been a fleeting encounter. Others have become lifelong friends like Anne and Diana, Jonathan and David.

A time of reunion with some old friends.

Like snowflakes, no two are alike. They come in all shapes, sizes, and ages. I have been blessed with many friendships over the years with older women who have encouraged, supported and prayed for me and my family. I have had younger women offer their strength and sense of adventure when mine was sorely lacking.

Here are a few of the kindred spirits who have crossed my path over the years. Maybe it will get you thinking and remembering about some of your own encounters.

In one particular volatile church situation, I would sit with Jean, an elderly woman, after church, in the foyer. I had been taken to task one time too many because my husband, one of the pastors on staff, was considered to be on the “wrong side”. Jean offered friendship and safety. I would sit nervously beside her and chat. She was lovely. No one came near.

Kathy would meet me as I came in to that church and walk with me to my seat or sit with me. Making sure no one spoke to me unkindly. Protecting me from further hurt.

Ish was always a safe place to go in that same situation. I was a new pastor’s wife, green behind the ears, in a situation that was way beyond out of control and these women, along with a few others, extended me grace, love and protection. Where others had stabbed me in the back, these women provided the balm that would eventually help heal those wounds. I’m not sure I would still be in ministry if not for those women.

There have been others.

One teenage girl, used to meet me as I drove into church, a baby in the car seat and a rambunctious two year old waiting to get loose. She helped me every week for months, to get those kids into the building. I am filled with gratitude every time I remember this act of kindness. I was usually undone by the time I got to church. My husband leaving several hours earlier, I was left to get the boys and myself ready.  Feeling the pressure to be a good pastor’s wife (my own issue) and ready to blow my stack, by the time I got to church, I wanted to turnaround and go back home. Her cheerful smile and helping hand got me through the front doors.

Another couple weren’t just friends but became like family providing us a home away from home when we lived far away from family.

Anne mentored me in my first job and became one of my best friends. I have never forgotten her even though I have now lost track of her over our many moves.

I have also appreciated the couple of close friends who have been secure enough in our friendship to kick me in the butt when I needed it. It was done kindly but firmly. Opening my eyes to other perspectives and areas I needed to work on personally.

I have sobbed on a couple of women’s shoulders, exhausted, hurt and feeling like the world was never going to right itself. They offered comfort. There was no judgement even after I confessed I hated the church we were serving in at the time. (It was emotional moment. The truth was I hated what was going on. They were mature enough to understand that and let me cry my broken heart out.)

I have been blessed by women who have let me be me, encouraged me to continue to seek out what God has for me. Acceptance has been a priceless gift in my eyes as I try to fit into a role of a pastor’s wife that seems very misshapen for this introvert. These women have let me loose, to discover my own path, my own way to create that role. They’ve let me rant and freak out, knowing eventually I would calm down and see truth. Friends who let you freak out without judgement, never.let.go.of.them.

A lot of friendships are made over meals. Who could you share a meal with, get to know a little better? (Panera is always a good bet if you have one nearby! You’ll make a friend for life!)

Who are the people who have crossed your path over the years who made a difference?

When we’re tempted to have our own pity party, we need to remember the many friends, kindred spirits who grace our lives, even for a season. They enrich us and make us better people, if we let them. The challenge is to let them in. Be brave and break down our walls and take a risk. Courageously cut the safety nets. It’s so hard to do this. Believe me, I understand. But as I think through this list, it’s abundantly clear that it’s worth the risk.