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Podcast: Spiritual Friendships

Episode #103

Each of us is looking for relationships that help us feel seen and known and loved. A spiritual friendship can be a safe place to bring all of who you are, to receive understanding and support during life’s struggles, and to enjoy the goodness of life as well. Join Kit and friends today as they talk about the gift of spiritual friendship.

Highlights:
…Spiritual friendship begins in God, continues in God, and is perfected in God…”

“…this is not all of who you are, but where you are today…”

Questions:
Do you have an ache for a friendship with someone like this?

Is the Lord calling you to take the first step?

Would you be willing to pray for these friends to come close?

Click for Full Podcast Transcription

Kit
This is Kit Elmer, and I’m joined today by two good friends and teammates from Regen. And Donahue is a spiritual coach on a region staff. And Michelle Don works on staff as well and she has a private practice as a therapist. These women are dear friends of mine, and we have experienced a lot of life together. And we’ve learned a lot together. And we want to share with you a little bit about that today. So, friends, it is so good to be with you today. Yeah, this is fun. It is fun. It is it Really. This is definitely a first. We have never done a podcast together. I think this is special. Um and I was trying to remember a Zoe were preparing for this. How long ago that we met? Was it 15 years ago or so?

Michelle
Yeah, I’m thinking 15 years. Yeah, a long time.

Kit
Yeah, a long time. Yeah, and really, we got to know each other very well through the women’s group that we were in. And we still are in less regularly, but we were in that group for, like, almost five years. And we did We meet every week.

Anne
Yeah, I think Friday morning,

Michelle
Friday mornings. This is when our kids were little.

Kit
Yes, yes, yes. So we knew that girl’s time. Imagine two hours every week for five years. So we really did get to know each other. Lots of laughing, lots of tears. Um, and we’ll talk more about that. Um but then years later, it was so fun that we ended up working at Regen together. I mean, how crazy. So and so we That’s what’s true today. And at Regen, we collaborate together. The three of us on something called 11 which is a ministry to young women ages 18 into their mid twenties. And we had to cancel the event with them recently. Don’t do the cove in 19. And we had planned to talk about this idea of living in the light, especially as it relates to relationships and one of the things that we were going to talk to them about with spiritual friendship. So that’s our topic for today, and we want to talk to them. But we want to talk to all women about this concept and men. If you’re listening, don’t tune out there certainly principles that are going to be that we’re gonna be talking about today. That can relate to men’s friendships also. So to kick this off and Michelle, what a spiritual friendship and what does it look like?

Michelle
Well, I was doing a bit of reading while I was thinking about this podcast and all of the reading points. Teoh, this one thinker who wrote this book spiritual friendship around the year 11 57. It’s I know, right. The person’s name is a LRA ed of Revo, and one of the things that he says he talks about, how spiritually friendship begins in God continues in God and is perfected in God. It is a road or a way, not a static condition. That was an interesting way. Teoh frame up what that really looks like

Kit
Yeah, great. I love that. And what would you say?

Anne
Well, it’s, you know, it’s sharing. Um, are laughter or tears are cries and our love for God and, um, ups and downs.

Kit
Yeah, it’s it really is honest and vulnerable, isn’t it? It’s It’s the kind of thing you don’t bring to every friendship necessarily. But there’s this, this mutual honesty and vulnerability.

Michelle
Yeah, it’s almost in the friendship. It’s if there are any pretenses that we would carry another, um, areas of our life, whether it’s to jobs or our neighbors in a spiritual friendship, those pretenses, we lay them down and so that we can express ourselves as we really are. And that includes even expressing our needs and our hurt and our pain rather than hiding or covering that up.

Kit
I love that as we really are. And, um, you know, there’s this, this reality that we feel accepted and encouraged, fully accepted, but encouraged to be in a better place, like God’s love for us. I think that’s one of the uniqueness of Obviously God’s love for us is so incredibly rare that he fully loves us and exceptions. But he doesn’t let us settle. So I think that’s true. It’s virtual friend to write. They really love us and accept us. But they also aren’t like whatever you want to do is fine, you know? So any thoughts on that? Well, I think

Anne
when someone leaves the best in you and they say, um, to share it, just share it. We’ve got your back. You can say it. You know, I’ve been there. I felt the very same thing you have felt even if Vinson the very darkest thought you’ve had and someone says I’ve had that too. And it’s amazing. It’s a pure gift. Yeah,

Kit
and one of the things we talked about that I think is, um is really a significant point is to that you both feel that your friend knows your uniqueness, and, you know, there’s like you’re able to say, Oh, yeah, that’s a really unique, rare thing about you. You know that about that person. So when they’re going through something, you can bring that knowledge. You see them in a way, maybe that’s unique. Have you guys ever experienced that?

Michelle
Oh, good question. That is a good

Anne
question, because I know actually, I have experienced that when somebody says this is not all of who you are, but this is where you are today, on and share where you are today. But I know this isn’t all about This isn’t all of you. Yeah,

Michelle
Well, one of the reasons it’s so important, right is because we can’t really experience love in its totality if from the person who is offering it if we, um, don’t think that they’re actually loving all of who we are, right? And so if we are covering or hiding, were showing only our best Selves and they’re saying, we love you, we accept you. There’s no way that that can penetrate the wall if we’re still keeping those barriers. And so those friendships where we do feel really loved are the ones where our friends can see through all of that and see who we are. And we feel safe enough to be that with them.

Kit
Yeah, absolutely. I had an older, spiritually friend mentor for many years, and, um, she would be honest with me, be really vulnerable and honest with me, and so I could be that way with her and she would like she would really receive whatever I brought in a way, you know, that was really a gift. So So that’s those are all really important things. So maybe to help listeners get an even a better picture of this. How would a spiritual friendship differ from a typical friendship? Like, let’s just say more about how it might be very unique. Anything else you want to say about that?

Anne
Well, kit, um, it kind of started with you. Actually, your invitation do a spirit of friendship with myself. And Michelle started with you being vulnerable and honest about your pain, sorrow, joy, gifts, talents. I mean, you modeled that for me, and that’s where it started in my life. And so, actually, you kicked it off. Um, and you led the way with your own story. And by doing that, that invited me to my story and to not be afraid of it. And Michelle to, you know, uh, Michelle, bringing her true self, invited me to bring my true self.

Kit
Yeah, that’s a beautiful thing. Isn’t that really is a beautiful thing. So maybe it would be actually a good time to talk about, um, our group a little bit because one of the things that I think does differentiate a spiritual friendship from a typical friendship is that it’s deeper and more vulnerable. And it’s this place for accountability to if we have issues, you know, if we’re if we’re having sexual concerns and our marriage or we’re having, we’re having, we’re acting out sexually or we really are in a bad, sexual addictive cycle, like we need these places in our group. Remember when we decided to tell our stories?

Michelle
Yes, I was actually just listening to the podcast that u N joshed it about sharing our story, and I was reminded about that. It was that maybe 10 years ago, at this point, I don’t remember how long ago your way had been journeying together and we had been living life together and being real together. And then there came a time where we decided, let’s share the totality of our story with each other, and it would be a no holds barred. We’re gonna really, um we’re really going to think through what this looks like and pray through what this looks like to be vulnerable with each other and that took our friendships to a whole other level. And I will say that we didn’t just dive into that. What? There had been years of paving the way of creating a safe community so that it was safe enough for us to really share everything about our story. And we started like, this is what life was like when I was a little girl. This is what it was like for me when I was going through middle school here, here, my joys, he were the challenges I faced. This is these are the places where I was wounded and where I’ve I may even still need to be healed. And so it was a pretty intense, but, um ah, sweet and valuable time.

Anne
Yeah, and we laughed.

Kit
Teoh. Not at our

Anne
story. Well, some parts of

Kit
the parts we did, Yeah, way

Anne
laughed and cried together. Yeah,

Michelle
waterproof mascara wasn’t

Kit
Must I do like what you’re saying. You guys that, um first of all, it took time. We didn’t just jump in like yours. 10 women in a room. Boom. Let’s go. You know, we took time. We developed over time, This this kind of vulnerability and trust. I mean, we did pray. We pray before we told her stories. We prayed during and we prayed at the end, you know? And I know, I remember it was the very first time I ever told my story. And I, you know, confessed and talked about some past mistakes the way I was living, you know, with some promiscuity in my life in my twenties that I, you know, that was hard. But it felt so freeing to be able to share it and have all of you that still loves me. You still accept me. So, um yeah, so? So there are probably people listening who are like, Well, I want some of that. So how How would you suggest that someone find a spiritual friend?

Michelle
Well, I I do think, um and I think you alluded to this earlier. It’s it’s We can choose to exercise wisdom, right? And we don’t have to necessarily grab the person off someone off the street and say, Hey, do you want to be a spiritually friendship? This sounds great, but we can look around at the relationships that we have in life. Those that are safe with people who are trust world Pretty And, um, who also love Christ, that can be kind of like a foundational thing If we’re looking to see who’s in our life already who who would potentially be somebody? So And what do you think?

Anne
Why? I agree with that also, you know, start sharing on, um, with some friends, some some vulnerable places and notice if they go there as well. And for you, um, a prayer or listen or cry with you or, um and you start kind of being your own spiritually friend of yourself and, um, look and see who’s around and where does it feel natural? Where is it? More many emerging.
Kit
Yeah, I love that. I think that’s a really, really good aspect of this search, you know, or this just like don’t mustered up. Let it be something that’s already happening. Someone that you you see as a strong, intimate relationship with Jesus And when you feel safe with drawn to you know, um, those are the people that you kind of don’t want to make it up. You want toe enter into what God’s already doing,

Anne
right, And you can already feel that a person feel safe. I remember. Just, um I don’t know, maybe two months ago. It’s lost time now, but I remember, um, asking if this is Michelle. This is an example of her. I said, you know, I have a couple things I want toe tell you and run by you. And she was like, Let’s take a walk. And, you know, I knew that. Well, obviously, we’ve built this spiritually friendship over the time, but, um, I knew she would listen. Excuse me. And I knew that, um, she would barely speak and wait till I was done talking. But I just felt like this natural, like, Hey, I have something I want to talk to you about. It was like, Sure, let’s walk.

Kit
I love what you’re saying. Which is, um, one of the characteristics of a good spiritually friend is that they listen and they listen and they listen some more. Him. Yeah. So the idea of, um, you know, that brings up this idea of, you know, it’s one thing to have a spiritual friend, but how do you beat how to be one, and so that’s a great characteristic. You listen well and What else? What else would you say to people who are, you know, thinking I’d like to find one. I’d like to be one.

Michelle
Well, I know one of the characteristics and the spiritual friendships that I have that’s been so impactful is when I have a friend who genuinely does not have an agenda for my life except really toe see me draw closer to God and to see me thrive and do well. But there is no agenda really other than just to walk with me and to be my friend. That frees me up just exponentially to be who I am. And also, I experienced them as a safe person. Like I can come to you because I know you’re not going to be tugging on my right arm or pulling on my left arm to go this way or turn that way with it may be an important decision I have to make.

Kit
Wow, that’s beautiful. I really love that. I think I could work on that. I think sometimes I you can, like, see a situation and feel like, see like Oh, that would be a good thing for them to do and to not do that to just be there for the person. Let God do that and just be this safe place. I really

Anne
appreciate to not rush in and fix. Yeah, I absolutely see that myself. Yeah.

Kit
So? So if some women are listening and they’re contemplating this and thinking, maybe I want to do this, maybe I don’t. What if they’re scared to be vulnerable? What if they’re like, I don’t know, That sounds a little too much. What would you say to that?

Michelle
I wanted the first. My first thought is, if you’re scared to be vulnerable, that means that you’re actually considering what this is really going to look like. So So it won’t feel like a bait and switch because it is vulnerable, right? Yeah. Eso If you’re if you’re thinking I’m going to dive in and there’s no risk that’s happened absolutely wrong. There is. It is a risk to get started. I think it’s worth it. Is you think Oh,

Anne
that is exactly my story. I remember being in my early twenties and wanting to have deeper relationships, deeper friendships, and I was hesitant because I learned early from I guess my childhood to be a listener don’t share this The dark story. I was kind of Ah, family commandment or whatever it was is just from growing up. And I had just such a beautiful friend that said, And what is going on in your life? You’re always just listening to me. Tell me something and I cried. I just started to cry, and it was scary for me, but I wanted to so so badly to have a friend that could know some of the darker, scarier parts of me and she she paved the way to a spiritually friendship. And I treasure that and it’s a gift. And I’m thankful for how she kind of just pressed a little bit because she knew there were some things I was keeping private. So it was That’s a beautiful example of, you know, inviting someone into a deeper, uh, friendship.

Kit
So that’s different from what Michelle was describing. Is tugging on her left arm, her tucking under right arm. But a gentle invitation like God does. And you know he doesn’t push us and pull us and demand, you know, he invites us, and so it isn’t that you’re just necessarily always passive, but it makes a difference how you’re entering into its not pushing, but it’s inviting

Michelle
well and even ah, and mentioned earlier kit. Um, years ago when you invited us into beginning this journey of having a spiritual friendship together. And I remember that invitation when you offered it. I was excited. And I think in your invitation, you even said, Pray about it, think about it. And I’m thinking there’s no praying about it. I’m excited. I want to do this. This is what I’ve been longing for for a while. And so I think there is, um, as you both have said, there’s power in the invitation and there is, um I think many of us would be surprised. Thio Thio, learn that probably others are waiting for that invitation. Teoh,

Kit
take the friendship to this other level, right? We’re just nervous. Yeah, it’s interesting the parallels between spiritually friendship and our relationship with God because as you were describing that Michele, I was thinking about how scared and nervous I can be to confess to God to invite God into some of the painful places in my life. As if he doesn’t really know about, um um but when I do that There is this relief in this blessing even, you know, to not be hiding to not be carrying this burden by myself. And that’s what can happen in a spiritual friendship, too.

Michelle
Yeah, I remember High quoted a lower out of Revo from the 11 hundreds. Yes, I have a list of things that he’s he said in this book, and one of them was one can make a rather easy transition from human friendships to friendship with God himself, which is really what you’re saying. And so for all of us, the, um the opportunity tohave Ah, healthy, thriving, loving relationship where we’re all accepted just seems like it’s paving the way for us to know what that looks like. We’ve got himself, which is pretty cool fot

Anne
Oh, gosh, it feels too good to be true. I mean, just your description of that is is beautiful. Yeah,

Kit
Yeah, I love that, you know? So, just to say a little bit more about this idea of, um, house, virtual friend can be, you know, encouraging a safe place, but also, like we mentioned this before, but I think it bears repeating that there are There are places, um, that we need to be able to go with with information about our lives that is delicate and so unite. When I was going through my cancer journey and afterwards, there were a lot of complications for my body that were there were intimate complications, and I didn’t, You know, here I am talking about another podcast, but I am. Thanks, kid. 15 years later way. But at the time, I really had to choose carefully. And I remember, you know, sharing it with, um, a friend to friends, actually, and they were, um, yeah, they were safe place for me. And I learned that over the years. But I just remember feeling such relief after I was able to share that because it was I didn’t I honestly didn’t know what to do about it. I didn’t know who to ask, where to go, how to feel what to do. I felt stuck. And so again, I think that’s a great you know, when we feel stuck and this and it’s delicate information, you know, really personal. A spiritual friendship can be a great place as we work through life struggles, you know, and things that we’re dealing with better that are really hard and difficult. Yeah,

Anne
well, excuse me. Also, just knowing that they were confidential, right? You I’m going to share this. And it stayed between the three of you. It does go anywhere. They just listened. No judgment, no fixing. It’s just like this is what I needed.

Kit
Yeah, it’s such a good point. I knew I knew I knew that they were not going to tell anyone. And I think that’s what we felt with each other in that group to like it was just there was no no doubt about it. This was not this information was not going anywhere. Um, and so that’s why I think we were able to share so much,

Anne
right? We’re talking about, you know, is a group of women, but this could be with with one friend, right? You don’t need a yes, right off your fat single. I don’t have a group. Just just relax. Noticed notice in you something stirring. I want this. Start praying about it and start with one friend, you know, and and maybe that will build toe two or three and take your time. Trust that God also wants this for you. Yeah,

Kit
I love it. That’s so good. What about for people who deal with the emotional dependency, cause this actually came up for me? Like what? If you tend tohave, you have a tendency free moment become emotionally dependent on somebody that you confide in. Is there an antidote to that to kind of keep it this deep? You know, but healthy relationship.

Michelle
That’s a great question. I’m here. Here’s the deal. This is not, um, a one size fits all answer, and I don’t even think it. It covers it in its totality, but they’re probably does come a point where, um we’re looking is if I have a problem that comes up is the first person I’m running to or the 1st 1 I’m running to my my friend, Um, and if we notice that, then maybe we can check ourselves, like Okay, Yeah. I definitely want to talk to my friend, but maybe I ought to take a ah, stop first and spend some time with God where, um, and just kind of balance out. And I always go into this one person first and foremost over everybody else. That would be a big indicator that the friendship maybe has gone to a place that’s not healthy or helpful anymore.

Kit
I think that’s actually the excellent me. Shacks like yes, really is. Really is because I think it’s that principal that’s so powerful that we don’t wanna look to others for what only God can give us ever. That’s

Michelle
a danger warning break, because in our friendships, really, we want inert nourish our friendship. But we also want Teoh help, um, nurture our friends friendship with Christ, right? And so we don’t want to be there, go to for everything. Rather we want to support and love and encourage them. And also, um, for all of us, we want to make sure that our first go to is really Jesus Price.

Kit
Yeah, Sadly, we’re kind of coming to the end of our time, but I want to ask you a couple more things. What if someone’s listening in there like this? Sounds really serious. Really heavy. What if I want to be lighthearted sometimes? Then what?

Anne
Well, that’s the best part of our friendship that we can talk about. Um oh, I got a new face, masks and
Kit
wear to take a picture of it. so love your shoes? Yes.

Anne
Oh, I think I’m gained £10 during Cove. It

Kit
just no way. We’re just

Michelle
talking about that. Before we started reporting

Kit
on, I wanted to say, Oh, gosh,

Michelle
me too. Or what, My dio?

Anne
Um yeah, where there’s where there’s just common common laughs and and lightheartedness. And hey, I’ve got something going on. Do you have a minute? Right? And we pray for May or, you know, just be there, Please. Yeah,

Kit
it really is the both and again, isn’t it? You know, it is this deep, serious, safe place. And it’s also this lighthearted. Let’s enjoy life together. Space to

Michelle
Wouldn’t pick the person to be a friend. Ordinarily, you don’t have to say, Well, I’m going to pick them to be a spiritual friend. Well, then, special friendship instead. No. We want to pick people who we would naturally be drawn to, who we want to develop friendships with. And then from there, go right. So because like, you’re saying it should be both.

Kit
Yeah, absolutely. Well, I would love to hear any last thoughts that you guys have anything that you didn’t say. That you’d like to say anything you want to ask of one another. Anything you’d like to say before we pray and closer time?

Anne
Mm. That’s well, we’re still in tears.

Kit
Way I get 10

Anne
minutes. I, um you know, it’s a gift and go slow and, um, trust that God, you know, has has a friend out there for you and a spiritual friend. He loves you. He loves your story. And, you know, he’s also the best friend. You know that there’s a can’t remember the actual verse, but he says Jesus calls us friends. Yeah,

Michelle
What friends are what make life sweet and enjoyable. And it’s really what gets us through those difficult times. And so God certainly wants us to have an abundance of them. And so I like what you said earlier. And if you’re at a point where, um, your friendships are feeling stagnant or you want to take a friendship to a deeper, deeper level, I’m not sure how you can start by praying, and it is. It does take a little bit of risk, but the risk is worth it. I

Kit
agree. Yes, While it has been such a gift to have this conversation with you guys, I really deeply appreciate it. Um, this has been another experience that we haven’t had together. And I wonder what’s gonna like in 10 years. Like, what will we be doing? Who knows what Skydiving. Well, Michelle, you’re gonna have to be talking me into that. She paved

Michelle
the way we haven’t talked about. Tattoos will continue that

Kit
way. Never did that, You guys. Well, so glad we have many more years Teoh to be sharing life together. So let me just, um, closer time in the word of prayer. Or there is great joy in spiritual friendship and great joy in this run ship with Ann and Michelle and I and so thank you for it. And what I pray for people who are listening that they will feel invited that they will feel like this is something that I, uh, want. And I’m gonna ask God to help me to find and Solarte in that. In that desire, we just pray your blessing over anyone who’s listening, who’s desire ing that friendship, that they can trust you for it. And we’re grateful, Lord, for the gift of friendship that you are. So you are You are a role model as the most incredible friend. And so we look to you for that as we continue to seek friendships with one another in Jesus, Amen

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Original music by Shannon Smith. Audio engineering by Gabriel @ DelMar Sound Recording.

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2 thoughts on “Podcast: Spiritual Friendships”

  1. I loved this! This was such an incredible topic to talk about because it’s never really discussed, AND so many different aspects were hit. I often feel like spiritual friendship is overlooked, yet it’s so special and of the Lord. I was hooked the whole time and really just loved every bit of it. I can’t wait to pass this along to so many!

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