I was sitting in a brain storming meeting today at my church about counseling. Someone "stormed" up an idea that we could call the lay counselors in our church "First Responders". These are the people that get the first contact with a hurting person and immediately offer hope and prayer for those in crisis. They may not be the counselor that sees the case all the way through but they quickly react when help is needed and dispense the "spiritual meds" that get us through the beginning of a problem.
I loved the title and was a little bummed that I hadn't thought of it myself. While I was mulling the name over in my head, I began to think about the "first responders" in my world.
I have these three girlfriends in my life. The four of us have known each other for almost 17 years now and believe it or not, we're closer today than we've ever been before. Our lives are going in totally different directions than were anticipated in our high school predictions that we buried somewhere in 1992 but no one can recall where.
Sandy is living as a single mom right now and Manda is also learning in her own difficult way to stand strong in God alone. Steph (Our essential "loner" that needs private time to really get her thoughts together) is practically quarantined to her house with two beautiful boys that want to be with her EVERYWHERE she goes! And then there's me...Pretty much living most of my life in the past as they would have expected (ouch) but strangely the one hating to be away from home and big change but having moved 7 times in 10 years of marriage and settling 12 hours away from almost everyone I know!
It's a little surreal sometimes that things really are the way they are! Not altogether the worst outcomes but definitely not anticipated.
I suppose that's what makes life interesting. If we all got exactly what we planned on we'd all be bored!
(Although, I'd still like to see!)
I guess before this past summer we all looked forward to getting together and the conversations were enjoyable but lacking much meaning or depth. This can happen to friends who have been close for a long time. They become sort of comfortably estranged. Knowing each other...but not really.
Then a bomb hit.
(Actually a bomb hit a few times before that but we all managed to keep a distance that expressed concerned but didn't obligate anyone to long-term care. I suppose God gave us all chances to respond and grow together but it just didn't happen. )
Then the effective bomb... Now that one has been undeniably loud and painful and creating a need for response that you can't hide from.
A familiar chain of phone calls sent word of the explosion and that began a new job for four girls that I will now title, "First Responders".
It's actually kind of humorous to watch (as my husband can attest to) because my phone will ring and it will be one of the other three on the line and the call starts like this...
"Have you heard from San yet today?" (I sink into a chair) "Um, No...*reluctantly* Why?"
Then I get the gory details of whatever bad thing has happened ending with something like this..."Well, San called Amanda, and told her to call us and she called me and now I'm calling you."
Then we all remind each other to pray and think right and...not say bad words that aren't edifying...And to call the hurting friend as soon as possible.
I have been known to get more than ten calls in one day back and forth in response to a painful situation. Those conversations have beautifully transformed from years past into productive calls of encouragement with little gossip or judgement over failure.
If you don't know what it is like to have a committed group of women in your life to share your burdens with then you should attempt to make that happen. Even Jesus had His three that He took to the garden to pray while He faced death and it's a wonderful assurance when you are desperate.
I used to think that I could write a book about my girlfriend circle with all our stories and antics but I know now that I was wrong then. What we had in the past was fun and clever but what we share in friendship now has purpose. It is safe and it is trustworthy and these are the kind of relationships that last.
Steph, San and Manda.
These are my first responders.
Gotta run! I hear the phone ringing!
(We apparently have a theme going tonight to encourage San and while I'm extremely reluctant to direct you to my ex-best friend's blog...I will do so because it is a documentary of sorts with pics of our friendships! It's good for a laugh! http://bridgejumpin.blogspot.com/)