Who is your best friend for life? Maybe you are blessed to have more than one. I have been gifted to have many such friends along this journey to heaven, but the one friend who encourages me the most in so many ways, great and small, on a soul level is my husband. He has been my rock and my joy for almost thirty years. A true Anam Cara (Soul Friend) is one who walks beside you in the good and the bad and gives you glimpses of your Creator by their behavior. So many times I have erroneously thought of God as a “Task Master” in my “hurry up and get it done” world only to have God surprise and remind me through the loving actions of my sweet husband, that He is delightful, gentle, kind and, well ... also a great deal of fun.
This Anam Cara that God uses as a mirror to Himself in my life can also be very truthful with me and tell me not just what I want to hear, but in love, tell me what I need to hear. This, according to the Scriptures, is the mark of the best kind of friend…”Faithful are the wounds of a friend, profuse are the kisses of an enemy.” Proverbs 27:6.
Surprisingly, as much as I don’t like to hear where I am missing the mark in life, it is not so hard to take from him, as I know my bbfl loves me. Why? Because there have been many, many, many years of proof -- far more moments of grace poured into my life than moments of chastisement. Therefore, he has “permission” to speak to me in such a way. A true Soul Friend loves you and is able to tell you things no one else can say because he has “soul collateral.” These special people have loved and laughed and danced and cried with you far more than they have corrected you, and so when they speak a difficult truth into your life, you can hear it.
Not everyone has the extraordinary grace to have their mate be a Soul Friend-- one whom you can share your spiritual journey with--but I do believe that is the way God intended it to be. It has been very difficult at times to make my husband and my “spiritual connections” work due to the fact that I converted to Catholicism and he remained a Protestant. We are not so far apart theologically but, on a very human level, the Church schedule causes us difficulties! So many of my friends who have “mixed marriages” have opted to do the easier thing ... so they think … just not to go to either church! BUT, oh how sad! By trying to “please” one another, they are missing out on sharing JESUS in the form of His Body-the Church, the sacraments, and community.
We prayed before I converted that God would keep us close together as a couple and a family, and that nothing, not even CHURCH could pull us apart. So, crazy as it may seem, I go to two services. I get up early on Sunday with my youngest daughter and off we go to Mass at 7:30 am and then we go once again to “family church” with the rest of my crew at 10:00. (Or sometimes, oh happy day, they will all come with me!) We have made this relationship with God a priority in our marriage and family, and one way we honor Him and each other is by going to Church ... together (as often as we can.) And amazingly, there are so many options! Saturday evening, Sunday all day ... even into the night. I challenge you to try this if you're in my situation…to give a little and get a ALOT… and if you are the one reading this blog ... I am betting it will be YOU who will need to go the extra mile to make it work. Pray for the grace to have what you need to love God AND your spouse and family in this challenging way.
It is not only with spouse and family that I have “Soul Friends”. God has given them to me in all stages of my life, in many different capacities.
The characteristics that set my “Soul Friends” apart from my “friends” are these:
1. We can pray together- and do!
2. We can worship together and encourage each other to go!
3. We can study the Bible together and share verses that uplift and inspire!
4. We can encourage each other in spiritual things, like going on retreats and to special events or following through on what we feel is a God-given inspiration.
5. We have permission to speak frankly with one another, even when it is awkward.
6. We are real with one another-- no pretending-- because we LOVE each other.
7. We are not in competition with one another. We are genuinely happy for each others’ successes and truly broken-hearted over the disappointments of life, and take it to the Lord.
8. We trust each other with “confidences” knowing a Soul Friend can keep it to herself...and share it with God alone in prayer.
9. We help to bear one another’s crosses, whatever they may be...physical, mental, spiritual, emotional, even financial...we are there to support one another in all ways.
10. We know how to truly “party” because there is nothing as much fun as sharing in the “Joy of the Lord” and showing it!
This list is by no means complete. And you may think, "I share some of those qualities with some people, but not with all" ...no worries. Funny enough, YOU may be an Anam Cara to someone even if he or she does not have the capacity to be one to you! Share the love of God with all. The world is round --you may be helping someone take a step in the right direction on his journey to heaven, just as somewhere on your path, others have helped to direct you on yours.
There are friends who bring ruin, but there are true friends more loyal than a brother. Proverbs 18:24
Thank You for so many blessings in my life, especially for Anam Caras in the form of family and friends. Please give me the grace to not only seek out Godly, loving friendships that encourage my soul heavenward, but to also be Anam Caras to others. Thank You that You show Yourself to me through Soul Friends. May I have the grace to see You there. I want to be so filled with You, and Your Spirit, that it overflows into all I do and on to all I know. Make me a Friend like You to others and let me feel Your warm embrace through them.
I ask this in the Name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Amen.