by Bronwyn Lea
Sophia is the Greek word for Wisdom, and Propel Sophia seeks out the voices of truly wise women and asks them to share worked examples of how they express faith in daily life. Pull up a chair at Sophia’s table, won’t you? There’s plenty of space.
Sitting on a couch with a pillow hugged tightly against my stomach, I poured my heart out to my friend. I remember how patiently she listened as I cried my way through a small mountain of soggy tissues. In my pain and frustration I had also done some shouting: I think I’d seen my friend flinch at one point. But wasn’t this the beauty of a true friend, I thought: a safe person I could ‘vent’ with when life got hard?
My friend sipped her tea and thought for a moment before asking gently, “Have you talked to God about it?”
My first reaction to my friend’s question was a rush of embarrassment and hurt. Was she rejecting me? Or judging me? Did she not want to listen? But just as quickly as the emotions welled up, I also knew the honest answer to her question was no, I had not talked to God about it. I had taken my burden to my friend, bypassing God and forgetting that “there is a loving friend who sticks closer than a brother” (Proverbs 18:24).
My friend was not judging or rejecting me. Rather, she was reminding me that there was more than just her and I in our friendship, and Jesus—the unseen friend in our midst (Matthew 18:20)—was the better friend to bear this burden, hear my pain, and offer comfort. She wasn’t offering me less of her support and friendship, she was reminding me there was so much more support and friendship in the situation with God’s help.
A true friend is a great gift: they walk with us through the highs and lows of life - rejoicing and mourning with us along the way. Friends who send us congratulations cards when we get that first job, or who text us a ‘woo hoo!’ when we reach a goal, or who sit with us while we cry about the frustrations of life as I did that day … these are gifts. One of the ways God comforts us is through the presence and words of others (2 Corinthians 1:4).
But what my friend did by asking if I’d talked to God about it was remind me that we share a Father in heaven who does more than comfort us vicariously through people, he comforts us directly, too. My friend was more than a friend in that situation, she was my spiritual sister - reminding me that we have a heavenly parent in common. And just as I keep reminding my children that I’m there to help if they need me, so too our Father is there to help and hold us whether we’re nursing a skinned knee or a shattered heart. I needed my spiritual sister to suggest maybe I should talk to our Dad about it.
It’s been twenty years since that afternoon on the couch with my friend, but her question has come back to me again and again over the years. When something explodes in my life and I pick up my phone to text a friend with a “you won’t believe what happened this time!” or “aarrrrrggggh!” to share, I hear the voice of my sister-friend in the recesses of my memory: have I talked to God about this yet? Often the answer is no, and in that moment I remember I can talk to him too. Not because I need my friend less. But because I always have a first and better friend in Jesus, too; one who’s never too busy to listen, and always able to help.
“Let us consider how we can stimulate one another towards love and good deeds,” says Hebrews 10:24. That one little question from a friend twenty years ago spurred me to pay attention when I felt a need to “vent” and get things off my chest, and remember to share those things with Jesus, too. My friend spurred me on to a deeper faith with her question, and in the hope of being a better friend and a truer sister in Christ, I’ve asked the same question to many friends since: Have you talked to God about it yet?
Bronwyn Lea is the author of Beyond Awkward Side Hugs: Living as Christian Brothers and Sisters in a Sex-Crazed World. She is a pastor, editor for Propel Sophia, and sought after speaker. Sign up for her monthly-ish newsletter here, and connect online on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.