“When God pulls us into a vertical relationship with himself, He also draws us into a horizontal relationship with other believers.” Ellen Vaughn
Ultimately when we reach the peak of the mountain of the Lord, we reach it alone; in the meantime, we need traveling companions. Sisters who will stick like velcro. Faithful women to hold our arms up in prayer and support us when we’re weak. To rally around us when it seems like the full forces of hell come against us.
If you’ve read the past few posts, you know I’m simply making an analogy between the mountainous obstacles we face on our earthly journey towards heaven and actually ascending a lofty mountain. There are different types of mountains and varying climbing experiences. We talked about it in this post.
There’s the excitement of a mountainous goal to which you feel called and the paralysis of realizing what it’s going to take. Maybe you’re halfway up the rock face, clinging for dear life, afraid to look down and the top is covered in fog. Sometimes you’re at the summit celebrating.
Picture yourself in any or all of those situations. Then ask yourself this question:
Who do you want by your side?
Whether you’re excited, totally stuck in fear, facing disaster or you’ve reached your goals, who ya’ gonna’ call?
I know who I’m calling—my dear friend Becky Burgue; she and I have a code that we use for those times: CIYCSI. Call if you can’t stand it. If either of us hear our phone ping and see that code we know to dial the other person immediately.
Who are YOU going to call? And why? Full disclosure: as I said in a previous post, I AM NOT a mountain climber. Heights scare me and I’m out of shape. I’d much rather decimate a mountain (or have God do it for me) or cast it into the sea than have to actually climb it.
But this road ahead of me clearly leads to the mountains. I can see them in the distance and I am determined to make that ascent. I just don’t want to make it alone.
Seasoned climbers say that although solo backpacking trips are rewarding, one of the best things about trekking with others is the bonding experience.
Choosing your mountain climbing companions
In motivational circles mountain climbing is a frequently used analogy because a successful climb involves goal setting. So I thought it would be interesting to see just what qualities it takes to BE a mountain climber. Maybe it would help us to choose our own traveling companions, and also learn how to BE better traveling companions.
Here are the five qualities of a successful mountain climber:
- Problem solvers/critical thinkers
I took a Facebook poll of what you all were looking for in a traveling companion (I’ll tell you the results in a minute) and none of these traits came up. Hmmm.
Let’s think about this:
You need patience for a climb because you don’t make it to the top quickly. There are all kinds of obstacles that will try your patience: storms, running out of food, getting lost, injuries, etc. You’ll definitely need patience if you’re traveling with me, because I’m going to stumble and fall! Will that frustrate you?
“Mountain climbers must be disciplined enough to work through problems and obstacles, and also maintain focus while keeping themselves calm and collected, even in dangerous, and/or unexpected circumstances.”
I want a friend like that and I want to BE a friend like that. If you’re disciplined, I can model your ways. If you’re focused, it helps me be focused. Win/win.
When something hard or frustrating comes along, it helps to have a friend that will encourage you in your goals, remind you to slow down, take a deep breath, and help you remember why you are doing this, so that you can get right back to climbing.
Problem solvers/critical thinkers
Why? Because sometimes my mind is a blank, I’m in a fog, or I find myself in a situation that totally stumps me. I’m too close to it; I can’t see the forest for the trees. What a blessing to have a friend with those skills.
I love the etymology of this word: it means endure, continue steadfastly, persist, from the prefix per “very” + severus “serious” from a root word meaning “to have, or hold.” Don’t we all long for companions who will endure with us, take our relationship very seriously, hold us up in prayer?
I need you when I’m starting out at base camp, half-way up and thinking I’ll never make it and when I’m limping toward the finish line.
A friend once shared this bit of wisdom:There are three types of friends that we need: someone to link arms with (fellow climbers) someone to hold up our arms (experienced climbers) and someone whose arms we hold up (rookie climbers) Click To Tweet
Good advice. We’re all at different stages of our trek.
The perfect friend at the perfect time
Have you ever had a new friend show up out of the blue?
It’s like they appear out of nowhere and they’re just the person you need. The other day I was leafing through an old address book and was amazed at the number of women who had joined arms with me at crucial times in my life and then poof, they were gone. Angels?
Seasonal friends; just when climbing my mountain seems utterly impossible, God sends me someone to give me a boost. I owe a debt to a number of women who came alongside me when I was stumbling and helped me regain my footing until I was able to push forward. I want to be that angel for other women.
What makes a good friend?
Now for the Facebook poll… you guys gave wonderful answers (some were really LONG answers!) which tells me how much you prize your friends.
Amy values “someone who is a Steady Eddie.” I love that!
Heather appreciates someone who she can call in the middle of the night in an emergency (and she knows would feel comfortable calling her too.) Heather, meet my friend, Becky!
Briane treasures friends who show an intentioned willingness to journey together, through ups and down, whatever comes.
Janine likes companions who are comfortable opening up her fridge and helping themselves!
A sense of humor was another popular answer.
Top three characteristics:
Bottom line: you want companions who are REAL… mountain climbers, not social climbers, because this is one tough journey.Be a mountain climber, not a social climber Click To Tweet
A friend loves at all times and a brother is born for adversity Prov 17:17
Did you catch that? At ALL times, not just when things are going good and it’s convenient and the schedule is clear.
My friends, who are already burdened with a tax bill they didn’t plan for, a spouse who’s out of work, a child who’s out of control and hormones out the roof – they’re supposed to look past all that and show me love.
Love ME? At all times? If you’re a Christian, you have to love me when I’m not acting lovable. So there! And I’m to do the same for you.
We all want to be loved like that; we just don’t want to love others like that. But according to the Bible, we’re supposed to. In fact, we’re commanded to. I’m not making this stuff up.
There it is in John 15:12: “This is my commandment, that you love one another.”
Not, “Why don’t you give this a try?” or “I don’t want to tell you what to do, but in my experience…. or even, “Have you thought about…?”
If you were reading the Gospel according to Susan, it would read, “This is my suggestion, that you love one another.” Because really, command is such a strong word.
But there it is again in verse 17 –Jesus repeats himself: “This I command you, that you love one another.
Wait a second, aren’t the commandments just for the Old Testament? What’s with the bossiness? I thought that Jesus was my friend?
I am your friend, Jesus says, if you do what I command you –vs. 14.
How are we to love? As Jesus loved us –vs. 12.
How did he love us? Vs. 13 –he laid down his life.
Jesus is talking about our relationships to other believers in these verses. But then on a more serious note, he talks about the believer’s relationship with the world.
“I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.” John 15:19.
Happy feeling gone.
Matthew Henry says, “The favorites and heirs of heaven (that’s us) have never been the darlings of this world.” Imagine that. I thought I was everybody’s darling. Bummer.
Jesus stresses the importance of loving one another because he knew we would be persecuted for his sake. He knew how much we would need each other.
You are my sister in Christ and I’m born for your troubles. When you’re flailing around, your fists pounding the walls, your feet kicking at the goads and I’m getting bruised in the process, I’m supposed to say, “Hallelujah! This is what I was born for!”The truth is we’re better together. There’s strength in numbers. Click To Tweet
I mean. You can struggle up that hill alone if you want to, but I got me some travel companions.
I call them my Velcro Friends.
A man of too many friends comes to ruin but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother. Prov 18:24
I like how Kristin Davila put it: “A true friend is someone who STAYS. A friend extends grace and gives space when its needed but never walks away.”
Do you have any Velcro Friends?
Congratulations! You’ve identified your mountain, you’ve packed your bags, got yourself some traveling friends, but now you need a guide. I’m excited about wrapping it all up next week with a guest post by Lisa Moore!