I am so blessed to have a mother that takes relationships seriously. I learned a lot of practical ways to be a friend from watching her life.
It wasn’t until I was in my thirties that I realized that one characteristic was the catalyst that motivated her to do the things she did for others. Mom is very loyal to her friends. The dictionary defines loyalty as being faithful to one’s obligations, promises, or people in your life.
Her examples of loyalty impacted my life and gave me the desire to be the same for my loved ones and friends. I learned so many things from both of my parents from just watching them on a daily basis. “Conduct is more convincing than language”, wrote John Woolman. The importance of being loyal was engraved on my heart from my Mom’s conduct.
The Bible exhorts us concerning our friendships – “Thine own friend, and thy father’s friend, forsake not…” (Proverbs 27:10) This Scripture is something all of us can do. It doesn’t take talent, intelligence or personality – but it does require loyalty. Let me mention several ways I saw (and still see) Mom’s loyalty to her friends.
From the time I can remember I have been going to weddings and funerals. (Melanie and Hoss would say the same). Mom required us to go; no options. Each occasion is at the opposite end of the emotional spectrum – one being filled with joy and the other of sorrow. It was more than being socially polite to Mom. She was there to rejoice with one and comfort the other. Her love for her friends was evidenced in her loyalty.
I have never attended a wedding shower or baby shower with Mom (nor do I have plans to!), but I know she has been to scores of them. She wants her friends to know she loves them and supports them at special times in their lives. Believe me, these events go in her calendar early and are priorities to her.
Sure, she enjoys the fun and fellowship of it all, but it’s deeper than that. I know because I have seen her practice it in other areas of her commitments. She is loyal to the people she loves.
I remember one time in my early teens when I was complaining to Mom about having to go to a wedding with her. To a young person they can be boring. She explained to me that we were honoring people that we cared about and that cared about us when we attended special life events for them. It made sense to me and still does today.
Another way I have seen this in her life is in attending anniversary celebrations. When someone has a milestone wedding anniversary, if it is at all possible, I will assure you that she will be there. She has driven long distances to weddings, funerals, and anniversary parties because she has a desire to let the people know that she loves them and that they are important to her.
I live in the same city where I grew up and one of my habits is to read the obituaries every day. Rarely a month goes by that I do not know a person or a family member of someone that has died. Sometimes I write them a note and most of the time I go by the funeral home to express my sympathy and prayers for them.
I suppose I used to think it was a kind gesture and a form of ministry, but now I know it is more. It is being loyal to friendship. Mom taught me that just being there communicates you care.
Saturdays are difficult days for a pastor to pull away from the house. There is the final polishing of a sermon that is less than twelve hours away. When I can, I attend weddings of friends (now it’s the children of my friends!). It’s more than propriety, but loyalty that I learned from Mom.
Almost a year ago I was in a doctor’s office talking about some very serious health challenges I was having and seeking some guidance about forms of treatment. Different doctors were proposing different approaches and I was a bit confused by it all.
My wife, Paula, was with me and this doctor (who was overseeing my care) and I were discussing various options to improve my situation. Paula spoke up and asked about a treatment I had not tried yet. My doctor looked at me and said, “Would you like to try that regimen?”
I paused and briefly considered her question. Paula quickly responded, “Let me tell you this about Rick. He is very loyal to people – even to his doctors. Since the last doctor recommended the current form of treatment he will be hesitant to change”.
Her words meant a great deal to me. I had never even thought about myself being loyal nor had anyone ever made a statement like that about me. If it was true to any degree, it was because of God’s steadfast and unconditional love for me and the way I had seen that kind of life modeled by my mother. (By the way, I did change my treatment and it made a drastic difference in my life! Thanks, Paula, for being there to help me).
Sometimes I use the following lyrics when I speak on faithfulness. I usually cannot finish them without crying. They are so powerful. It’s the prayer of my heart to be loyal and faithful to my Savior, my family, my church and my friends. My Mom gave me a wonderful template of how to do so by her life.
“Find us Faithful”
We’re pilgrims on the journey
Of the narrow road;
And those who’ve gone before us line the way,
Cheering on the faithful, encouraging the weary,
Their lives a stirring testament to God’s sustaining grace,
Surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses,
Let us run the race not only for the prize;
But as those who’ve gone before us
Let us leave to those behind us
The heritage of faithfulness passed on through godly lives
After all our hopes and dreams have come and gone,
And our children sift though all we’ve left behind;
May the clues that they discover and the memories they uncover
Become the light that leads them to the road we each must find.
Oh, may all who come behind us find us faithful;
May the fire of our devotion light their way;
May the footprints that we leave
Lead them to believe,
And the lives we live inspire them to obey.
Oh, may all who come behind us find us faithful.
Lyrics from <a href=”http://www.elyrics.net”>eLyrics.net</a>