Here’s a story about what our good friend and Pastor James calls “Circle Church”.
Last winter I started a friendship with a girl named Cara. Now Cara and I are in some ways complete opposites and in other ways so very alike. Friendship has always been tough for me. I always felt like the odd man out. Something happened though, one of the first conversations I had with Cara something clicked.
The first key, I am learning about friendship, is true of our friendship. We’ll call that key; vulnerability. Cara and I shared our “stuff”, nothing is off limits and we also share a love of what’s important, God, our husbands and our kids. Also, Snickers poke cake… so good.
Fast forward a few months later, Cara was there the afternoon I was in labor for my son Linus. She counted contractions while our kids ran around in the yard. She came over and sat with me while I was in the hospital. When I came home and Linus wasn’t gaining weight she was the one who told me it would be ok.
A couple months later, when she was going to the gym she invited me. I was really struggling. I was anxious and just didn’t feel right. She had a membership to a gym where you can bring a friend along. This is where the story of our friendship and what God can do really began.
So, when we would workout Cara pointed out something I would have not noticed on my own. You see, Cara used to be a nurse and when we worked out she noticed my heart rate was much higher than it should be. She encouraged me to get it checked out.
So the next week I mentioned this to my doctor who switched the migraine medicine I was on, thinking this was the culprit. Told me to keep an eye on it. I also, conveniently saw a pulse ox monitor on clearance at aldi and threw it in my cart the next time I was out shopping.
During this time I had some other friends randomly message me. The conversations led around to the same topic, anxiety. Both people I don’t regularly see who just felt compelled to message me out of the blue. Two different people, spoke with me, prayed with me and again and again God told me through friends, “It’s going to be ok, you’re not alone.”
Two weeks later, the issue persisted as did anxiety and a heaviness in my chest whenever I tried to do things, everything felt hard. I thought, I must just be having postpartum anxiety. I called my physician and he switched my medicine again.
The next morning, my heart rate was still not good. I told my husband we needed to go to the er. I thought, it is anxiety but just in case it is an issue with my heart I will feel better if we get it checked out.
After dropping off our kids and heading to the hospital around 9 am they ran all kinds of tests. The last test they administered was a ct with contrast. I remember thinking, once they run this, they will let me go home. It was time for my daughter to get out of school and I felt bad asking someone else to pick her up.
It turned out, all the symptoms I was having were the result of a pulmonary embolism in the upper right lobe of my lung. I had to be admitted and put on medication right away. Most people who have these clots don’t realize it until they are much sicker. 1/3 of the people with them never realize they have them, because they die suddenly and they only find out after they pass away.
You see, God used our friendship to point out something that I would not have seen on my own. I am now on medication that will prevent the blood clot from getting worse and will be fine. They think it happened in the postpartum when women are more susceptible to them.
I think it is important to share my story because it is a testimony to how my “circle church” or close friend was able to be used to prevent me getting really sick, or worse. Church is good, it is, but if you aren’t hooked in with other people, people who can be used to help you grow, you will have a lot harder time in life.
I know, sometimes finding those people seems impossible. I was there for a long time. However, if you are there, don’t give up, God wants you to be part of friendships and he will send them to you. He has shown me how important not being an island is. He wants to speak life, through your friendships and they are very important.
Obviously, my story is about the way in which he tangibly saved my life, but beyond that our friendship has helped me grow so much in the last year. I encourage you, seek someone out, don’t be afraid to get real.
Also, not everyone has to be best friends, some just click naturally. Don’t get frustrated or feel guilty if a friendship doesn’t work out or you don’t stay close friends with everyone, but keep trying. God wants us all to have those people who will push us and who he can use to be his hands and feet when we are struggling.
I am so thankful this year, because I know my story could have had a different ending. I know that God has preserved my life and he has been there throughout all the struggle and given me enough to get through each day.
He gave me Cara’s friendship, he has also provided encouragement through countless other people since I have been sick and as I have been recovering. My family who took care of my kids, friends who came over to help and give me a break since the blood clot has made me worn out. Childcare while I have been going to the doctor. The long nights in the hospital, and early mornings when messages came flooding in, so many people prayed and offered to help me and several people who stopped by while I was a patient.
I am so thankful that I didn’t have to walk this out alone, and humbled and blessed. I am writing this because my hope is, my story will help others to know that God has those people out there. He wants you to find fellowship and he also cares about you, every little detail of your life, he is about life and wants to take care of you, even if it means you have to go through a trial, he hasn’t forgotten you and loves you so much. He also will be your friend if you feel alone, he wants to save your life through the gift of salvation and it doesn’t stop there, he wants to give you life more abundantly. He loves us all so much.
Isaiah 38 vs. 15 and 16
“But what can I say?
He has spoken to me, and he himself has done this.
I will walk humbly all my years
because of this anguish of my soul.
Lord, by such things people live;
and my spirit finds life in them too.
You restored me to health
and let me live.”