I love carrot cake and hate small talk. Cheri craves ice cream and works out religiously. Friends for more than 20 years, we're two Starbucks-drinking, Levi-wearing, munchkin-rearing friends.
But when Cheri and I mention we're on a "spiritual journey" together, people often give us blank stares. We suspect they're imagining us at Bible studies and weekend retreats. Some of those images ring true, but faith-filled friendship is more about sharing the rough-and-tumble of ordinary life than practicing spiritual piety.
Jesus and his 12 stinky fisherman friends spent more time at the beach than at a synagogue. Their hillside picnics probably felt more like church than most days at the temple. Every social gathering was a feast of friendship and faith. Even today, a circle of friends—with Christ at the center—is one of God's desires for his church. He continually sows seeds of community, whether we're scheduling play dates or coffee breaks, joining book clubs or Bible studies. Yet too often we rely more on our frenetic pace than on faith-inspiring friendships to serve our souls.
In their book Friends for the Journey, Madeleine L'Engle and Luci Shaw describe friendship as a gift "given to you—holy, happy, tough, tender, wild, wacky, a sacrifice, and a sacrament." Finding soul sisters means becoming more intentional about spiritual friendship. Cheri and I have discovered these important ways to foster it.
1. Cheri: Open your heart and mind. Start by asking God to put people in your life who'll inspire your faith and nourish your soul. And be persistent about putting yourself in the presence of people you want to learn from—even if they're different from you.
When Sally and I first met as roommates at college, we were obvious opposites. Sally had jet-black hair and an operatic voice; I'm more introverted by nature. Though we shared little in common, we sensed there were things we could teach each other. So together we attended campus concerts and took train trips into the nearby city. Over that year—and the years that followed—God surprised us with the gift of being more than just sisters in Christ, but friends for the journey. It still surprises us how my introversion teaches Sally to live in the moment and wait on grace, and how her boisterous spirit nurtures my adventurous side. Together we're able to experience the full spectrum of a faith-filled life: stillness and movement, prayer and play.