I rejoice at the coming of Stephanas and Fortunatus and Achaicus, because they have made up for your absence, for they refreshed my spirit as well as yours. Give recognition to such people. (1 Corinthians 16:17-18, ESV)
Friend to Friend
Just a half hour later, the doctor came to talk with her. I wasn’t trying to eavesdrop but the physician’s matter-of-fact words fell like bricks. I heard her intake of breath at the worrisome news.
This caused me to look at the man sitting beside me. Our hands weren’t gnarled with time, not yet, but several years had passed since we first fell in love and walked down the aisle.
Children came. Activities and busyness and commitments pulled and tugged at both of us. We often talked about the season we were in, giving lots of grace to each other, but also knowing that our relationship sometimes came in last.
As I watched this elderly woman wipe away tears, I wondered. One day, when our hair is white with age and our lips meet like butterflies, would I wish I had done anything differently?
In 1 Corinthians 16:17-18, Paul writes from prison. As he wraps up his letter, he shares the news that he’ll soon be visited by three friends. His description of these friends crack wide open a need in Paul’s heart.
I rejoice at the coming of Stephanas and Fortunatus and Achaicus, because they have made up for your absence, for they refreshed my spirit as well as yours. Give recognition to such people.
Paul is need of refreshment, and he can’t help but share his joy at three friends who exude that. Just the thought that they are coming his way is an encouragement.
That day as I watched the older couple, it caused me to reflect on my relationship with the one I loved. I was present. He knew that I loved him. Yet I didn’t want to look back one day with regret, knowing that I always gave my marriage last place in our busy lives.
What if I looked for ways to encourage him today, instead of waiting for some day?
Later that week, I looked for ways to show him that I loved and appreciated him – right then, in the midst of our busy lives. One day I broke down the recyclables and took them to the curb. It’s a small thing, but it surprised him. Another day I left a note on the bathroom mirror that said, “I love you,” and his smile when he came out showed that it hit the spot.
There were deeper ways to encourage him, or “refresh” him as Paul described it. I put his name in my journal and prayed for him daily. I tried to remember to laugh with him, rather than always be focused on the to-do’s we had to tackle. None of this cost me anything, not really, but I could see that they encouraged him. In fact, it encouraged us both.
That older couple was a reminder that seasons pass, regardless of how busy we are. “Refreshing” those we love is not complicated. It’s simply taking a moment to come alongside, so that one day when our frail hands clasp and our lips meet like butterflies we look back with fewer regrets, knowing that when they saw us coming these words settled in their heart:
I am happy to see her, for being with her is refreshing.
Jesus, I’m so consumed by the day-to-day tasks, by technology, and by busyness that my closest relationships can get a little lost. Show me small ways to encourage that one I love.
In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Now It’s Your Turn
Rather than trying to make it a picture-perfect gesture, encouragement can show up in little ways.
- Write a note and leave it where your loved one will find it.
- Say a kind word and mean it.
- Notice something your loved one does and tell them how much you appreciate it.
- Laugh with them. (This is perhaps the most refreshing thing we can do but also among the first to get lost in the busyness.)
More from the Girlfriends
In Suzanne’s book, JoyKeeper: 6 Truths That Change Everything You Thought You Knew About Joy, Suzie shares how to step into the Source of joy that cannot be stolen from us, regardless of the season we are in.
© 2021 by Suzanne Eller. All rights reserved.