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The Blessing of Friendship

Interview with 

October 6, 2021

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Hi sky and welcome to unsung stories. Thank you so much for joining us. It's a pleasure. Good. I'm just say that our listeners can get to know you a little bit more. Could you tell us a bit about you and your family life and just what everyday life looks like for you? Okay.  I live in Canberra now.

We've been here for almost  two and a half years. And I have four children and a husband and my husband works at a school as a chaplain and also as an HD deacon for the diocese. And I work as a youth and children's worker two days a week. At my local church. And what else can I say?

Love gardening loves swimming. Lovely. Yeah, it sounds like you're very busy. How old are your kids ages? . Yeah, eight.  She's turning 14 this year. I have four girls one's 14 and then 12, 10, and eight Wells is. That's an intense time. I'd imagine. So what's the last few years looked like for you guys. You said you're in Canberra now.  Have you always been in Canberra or? , what's been up with your family.

 We haven't always been in Canberra. But. Live here number of years ago.  It sort of reliever homecoming in some ways, at least for my husband. ,  we used to live in Holbrook which is a small country town on the way to Aubrey. Yeah.  We lived there for eight years and James was the minister there at the Anglican church.

. Nice. And what was life like living in Holbrook? It was amazing in a sense. Growing up in a country town and for the kids and you know, just access to beautiful Alpine rivers and lovely things like that. And being able to know everyone in town, you walked down the street and you'd know everyone and always take longer than you think to go shopping.

Cause you'd run into someone and chat to them. .   That was, that was really lovely.  That sense of community, and also getting to know. People that were older than ourselves because the church predominantly had people that were older than us unit.  I learned to relate to them as, as PAs in lots of ways.

I was Christian brothers and sisters. Sort of break down the age barriers that we sometimes have in churches.  I learned a real lot bay now and, and I got a lot out of living there. That's probably can't be experienced anywhere else. But at the same time, some of the positives were also some of the things that I found drank.

Yeah. Yeah.  Sort of feeling like  everyone knowing you and being the pastor's wife. .  Being the pastor's wife, sort of added to that dimension of feeling like we're always on show and adding to act the right way or be the right person to everyone. Which physically I couldn't really do or meet my own expectations of what I could be to every person I met or talked to, or  over time I did, I did end up feeling quite drained by that and not to mention it, I'm assuming that would be at quite a draining season of motherhood as well.

Yeah. Yeah. And somehow I think I thought I could sort of. Just do that. And that, that could be you know, sailing along fine. And I could also do other things, but I found it right. If you go to do other things . Wow. , you were telling me a bit about it before. And you were talking about friendship out in Holbrook.

Would you mind sharing your thoughts or your experience of friendship out there?  You were mentioning that lots of your church is older women.  how did you navigate that? Well, one of the things that was really K was having a women's Bible study that one of the ladies in town started and it was non-denominational, we're all from different churches.

We used to meet weekly and read the Bible together and pray, and that was a real source of support and encouragement. But I also missed having. More friends of my own age.  I felt very isolated in that sense. And, and over time I realized that that was a problem. And we started praying for more friends for James and I, so that we would feel that sense of connection and sharing the love.

But I took ministry and of just personal needs and spiritual walk.  I got really personal friendship was something that we both craved. And we started praying for that a few years into our time there.  How has your relationship with God through all of this time? You know, intense season and motherhood always on display

not feeling like you've got a friend that sort of thing. Yeah. Look, I think in lots of ways I was very dependent on God.  In my weakness,  I sort of. Turn to human and in prayer and Bible reading and things, and just sort of felt that whiteness a lot. But I, and I think also I ended up reaching a point where I got into so many habits of thinking that were not healthy and eventually that culminated in.

Anxiety and depression towards the end of our time there and also due to a number of different significant things that happened. But  I think during that time I was reading back over some of the nights that I wrote in a journal at the time and just realized how much. Godhead, humbled, majoring that time and, and maybe realized that I wasn't enough for myself and that I should stop thinking that I could be and stop just trying to work harder.

Because I had a very, very much a don't be lazy work ethic. And I just had to, you know, read the Bible more. I just have to pray more. It just had to talk to more people and had to be more brave about sharing the gospel, or I had to do this and I had to do that. But in the debilitation of becoming anxious and depressed to a very significant level, I, all of that ability was completely stripped away and I then had to learn to depend more.

On God and, and on Christian friends to get me. Yeah. And also I, I needed to seek medical help as well. And, and that was part of us provision as well to get to that breaking point and then actually stopped building more healthy thinking and more healthy habits around my lifestyle. .

That's really wise. And I really liked that. You said that that's how good. Providing because so often you can hear people, well, I don't know, hint church culture, I've heard, it said, people say, oh, you need is God. But I'm really convinced that God really does provide these beautiful professionals and it's good to go and get help.

And actually I have a really very stuck memory of my husband taking me to. For the first time to see a psychologist. And in that very same day of seeing the psychologist, I also got to see a doctor and we decided to go on medication. And the talk has sent a rang on that same day and.

I can have your daughter for an extra day, a week or whatever, God praying for that to open up.  Those three things happen on that same day. It just really was a very loud chat from God that, you know, I'm providing for you right now.

With the help of these people that can help. But yeah. So, oh, isn't that great. I love those clear, clear moments of this is what I need to do. Yeah, it was very clear evidence of God's provision. Yeah.  Was there anything else that. That came up for you.  You mentioned that you were trying to do it all yourself.

So do more, do more, do more, but what other heart issues came up through that time? Yeah, I think I try to do a few down earlier just in terms of. Learning to please God was more important than 

learning to wanting or desiring to look right, or to please others.  Trying to S try not to serve my pride and looking good in terms of where the Lu value, especially because I was the one working any job at that time. And I just sort of felt, you know, The pressure of that and thinking, you know, should I be but certainly the church was a big enough job as it was anyway and motherhood.

But yeah,  just I had Galatians three reading written down. I can't remember what it is, but yeah, just learning before the face, the spirit, isn't it. Got it and not really seeking to please our own selfish desires. And and then I think knowing, I think in anxiety, you just, I became very indecisive and I also had a really low perception of my ability.

I know what I could do. And I would only ever focus on what I wasn't doing rather than what I was doing and had a lot of negative self-talk.  I had a real desire for guidance and strength, you know, all of that. , . Reading God's word. I've got a heart Psalm, a hundred and nineteen twenty five to 32.

Just let's see if I can find it, but , just reading God's word and he would always speak to me through it and just give me a new perspective. , it says I am laid low in the dust, preserve my life. According to your word, I recanted my ways and you answered me, teach me your decrees. Let me understand the teaching of your precepts.

And then I will meditate on your wonders. My soul is very sorry. Strengthened me according to your word. And I certainly did feel that there was often times that God's word put a perspective on my anxieties.   That was good. And , and just learning that humility and dependence on God, it just sounds like such a lonely time.

I mean, anxiety and depression is lonely wherever you are, but then I just feel  coupled with this. Physical isolation from where you lived and just  that community that you were in at the time. Even though there's lovely, beautiful, women's around you and supporting you Oh, my heart's just really hurting for you.

Yeah. Yeah. It was, it was a hard time, but I certainly learned a lot from it and , that's what I was going to ask. What, what was there that you learned about yourself or about God during that time? Just to. Not do it alone. I think that, that God's used his people and his provisions of healthcare and whatever else to support us.

And  , I think that's just a really important thing. And I think I learned Particularly the value of Christian friends and, and the importance of seeking out someone to pray with, to, to walk and pray with, or run and pray with. I think at a time when I was in Holbrook, I used to, I had a record.

Arrangement to go for a run and, and pray with a friend who got provided for James and I to encourage us. It's going to ask about that. You were saying that you and your husband committed to praying for friends. , in what way did he actually ever. Oh, you. Yeah, that was probably a couple of ways.

 One way was a family that had a lot of kids out wage move sorry. I got to know them and they actually started coming to our church. So that creative fellowship at church, and we'd often have a copper and, and just share the responsibility of looking after kids, particularly because we didn't have family around That was one.

Otherwise it, he answered that and, and that's sort of probably developed a little bit more even since you've left Holbrook.  That's interesting. But also another way was , just a friend who sort of, I guess I come, , just came in for three years. With her husband's job.  It was a short, a short stay in some ways, but it was sort of just a really good timing and she was the one that I used to run and pray with.

And I think that really was a strength in terms of Just regularly sang out loud. Some of the things that were bouncing around in my head and then committing them to God in prayer and sort of releasing that burden. , and that's something that I've continued now, as I've moved to Canberra, I've sought out someone who I can walk and pray with regularly.

And it's, , it's continued to be a real strength. .  That friend that moved to just for a few, a short bit of time, did you two connect straight away or was it kind of  a, Hey, you were the same age and stage let's become friends or . How did you navigate becoming a friend as an adult?

Hm. , it was interesting. As far as, at first, it just started as me being a friendly minister's wife and saying, hello. I think also I was just aware that we've been praying for someone. So when a Christian woman moved to town, like, you know, my ears would pick up, you know, is this the person?   I think, I think waiting for waiting for someone and and , so in the, in a, in a sense it, wasn't what we'd expected because we'd sort of hoped that we'd have a.

A couple come that we could buy, get to know really well. And in the end it was more me who got to know this girl really well. And, and James did as well. But it wasn't that sort of, you know, but they were definitely family, friends, like for the kids, they had really great friendships with their kids and she ended up going through quite a hard time.

During her time there and we're able to really get alongside her. And it happened to be fairly similar timing to my depression and anxiety.  We very much mutually encouraging one another and depending on each other, as we went through those hard times, and I think that really made the friendship a lot deeper.

But , I think it took quite a while for us to really get a friendship that was as steep as it is today because. I think you need to build trust with people. I don't think we necessarily had the same communication styles at first and, you know, different personalities in some ways there were things that we really liked doing together, such as the outdoors and things like that.

And our theology was the same. Dependence on God and prayer was the same for the Bible is the same. And ,  I think the relationship just grew over time as we continue to regularly catch up. And that's a friendship that I still consider a very strong friendship today and go camping together at times.

And you know, that's really helped a lot, .

 As we've been thinking through friendship, has there been any biblical truth? That's just stood out to you about connecting with people.  We've recognized the importance of having friends and kind of that we're designed for connection and that sort of thing.

But what from a Bible has fleshed out your thoughts around this topic. Definitely, you know, in the beginning being created as, as relational banks. But I think I've also reflected on the fact that we have a fair bit of inertia sometimes, particularly when we're feeling low to actually reach out to others.

And it's like, can be almost like a real blockage to creating strong friends. And I, I do feel at times that that Satan sometimes uses. We can feel the sense of discouragement and uncertainty of whether it was really with the effort. But I think in friendships trying to be open-minded and problem solve and expect that there will be hiccups along the way, because, and then when you go out of your way to make something work that convinces the other person that you're genuine and that You do need them, you need them and they might need you.

And it's very two way.  One of, one of 'em actually someone said to me today just in regards to going to church and she had struggles with sometimes having no motivation to go. And she said, well, what she says to herself is do I ever feel worse afterwards? And the answer is no. .  In a sense that helps her bypass the inertia of the effort that it takes to create connections and meet with the body of Christ.

Mm. And, and just remember the benefits of it.  I think probably, , having a body of Christ is something. God's given us and we should grasp it and he delights in providing for us through it, I think. , and I, I had a passage written down Hebrews four, verse 14. So. Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven, Jesus, the son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess.

But sometimes we need that help to hold firmly to the faith and the body of Christ can help us to hold firmly to the faith. So that's part of having Christian friends. And before we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who is tempted, who has been tempted in every way, just as we are.

 As we face temptation, we can also be confessing to each other and talking about it and holding each other accountable. And then verse 16, let us approach God's throne of grace with confidence so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. And , just that full confidence to come before God, even if you're being dragged along by someone else, we can still come before you even have confidence.

So find grace and helping our time of need. So that's beautiful. Good friends are so valuable to have, , they really do refine you and they'll tell you the truth when you need to hear the truth. And they will be the one.

My good friends are the ones who will call me out when I need to seek Jesus more or repent, or are there when you're struggling with something. . I think it just points back to our design of we're made to be in connection with each other. And that, . God's not designed for us to do this alone.

Definitely. . Yeah. So now you've moved on from Holbrook and you've mentioned a few times that you're being intentional in forming friendships. Now in new places,  your friend that you go walking with him, praying with what have you learned from your time in Holbrook that you're carrying into the friendships that you have now?

Probably a respect for older people. And an understanding of how much I can gain from them and how much they can relate to me and not have so much of a concept of age. So I think that's one thing. But also, , just dependence on. Got together. So I run a women's Bible study  here as well.

And I just see that primarily as just cheering each other on basically to keep following Jesus and to go deeper with him. So that's one way that I drove, but in terms of my own personal walk daily walk Or strengths for the week to do whatever it is. , just having that one friend to walk with and to pray and stuff is really important and sent a lot of it presents in that little bit of time, once a week.

So I think it's time well spent, not wasting time, actually time. Well-spent intentional in how you're spending your. Yeah. Yeah. And then it's intentional with your friendships.  That's pretty intentional to be , let's walk and pray rather than, you know, , rather than just be friends with someone who just walk with, you can really use that time to pull the Lord together.

And I think having the confidence to lead others in that too, like to go, you know, we're here to pray. We're going to pray now. It might feel like. Construed, but other people I think actually appreciate that someone's leading them and just taking the reigns.  I think it's actually well received, even though sometimes it feels a bit.

. Yeah. Counter-cultural or

I guess it could feel. Silly at times. . Yeah. And it did at first as, , it did feel silly and it was really stilted. And then now it's not at all. . That's really beautiful. Yeah. I have. Yeah. Gonna have to find someone to walk with chase at 1.5 meters apart with a mask on so it's not an uncommon experience for moms to say that they felt a shift in their friendships as they've become a mum. For a number of reasons. Would you have any encouragement for the mom who's listening? And that just feels lonely of friends in this season. What advice would you offer her?

 , I'd say that like sometimes it's hard to keep in touch with people that you would have, maybe if you've lived in a different town before or something like that. But just occasionally catching up is still . Or seeing is still worth pursuing some of your old friendships, but I'm not putting too much pressure on yourself.

And just, . Making investments somewhere with at least someone is better than nothing. So don't have a all or nothing mentality just to have a, do something mentality stuck somewhere and . Dana expect to feel great every time you go to do it, just think. Well, do I feel good afterwards? Yes, I do.

Yeah. Yeah. Is there any particular way that you've seen God's hand or faithfulness in this area of your life that you could encourage all of us or any final reflections on friendship that you'd like to share?

Maybe just in terms of reflecting on my. Management of anxiety and depression over time and over the longterm. I've had to learn that I do need time out from people as well, so I need to be able to go and just walk and be by myself. Maybe reconnect with creation or something like that, like that.

I find that or go for a swim, whatever something to our mind. So a bit of like, I can get a bit overstimulated with people and then I need to wind them back down again, to feel better. , so probably. I'm not, I don't want to give the message of like maxing yourself out with social relationships is going to make you feel good.

Like a lot of people, I still have to manage my people time on my off time pretty well. , I don't want to give the wrong impression. Okay. Yeah. That's great. Awesome. 

I do have one little thing. I was gonna put in a plug for reading their kid's version of the Pilgrim's progress. Little Pilgrim's progress was really a lovely thing to do when I didn't have energy to read the Bible. It was quite therapeutic. So just one last little plug. I'll have to have a look. Yeah, they keep special.

It's really well written. Yeah. Yeah. Cool. I've tried reading Pilgrim's progress before and , it was, I think, I, I think they've got a modernized version. I just couldn't. I think I was reading the old version. I just could not understand it. So maybe I should even go through the kids' version and stop.

I read quite a few. There's some really great children's books out there that my teenagers read and they just sort of. Not so in-depth that you're getting ready. They're just a nice read. Yeah. . I actually found since becoming a mum, I really appreciate kids' books, even just for explaining big concepts at a level that I can understand.

Yeah. there's a lot more theology behind what they've actually written down on the page that, , it's aimed at an eight year old.

That's wonderful. Yeah. Yeah. And I think sometimes your brain does go back a few years in terms of its quality over there. When you got little ones demanding so much for me. , yeah. Or anything that's written, if you're wanting to understand about holiness is a whole book. Yeah. Oh my God. . Or you just don't have time.

I don't have time. Oh, that's great. 

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