Lessons from a Friend
By Kim Anthony
On January 10, 2018, I posted this photo of a bangle a dear friend had given to me that day. The inscription reads “Let your faith be greater than your fear.” Along with this gift came an invitation to become one of the Fearless Friends who would walk with her as she journeyed through her second battle with cancer.
I was honored to be trusted with this level of friendship, but I must admit, I didn’t feel qualified. It’s not something I had done before and it would challenge me to be fearless during some very scary times. Could I be fearless for her when she couldn’t be fearless for herself?
Yes. It turned out that I could.
I guess when you care about someone, somehow you tap in to abilities you didn’t think you had and before you know it, you’re coming alongside them in helpful and encouraging ways. Sure, I didn’t always know what to say at times, nor did I always say the right thing. Thankfully, she was full of grace and didn’t hold it against me (smile).
This past year of walking with my friend, reminded me of some important life lessons:
1. Don’t do life alone…especially when going through the hard stuff. Sometimes, maybe out of embarrassment or shame, we want to hide our struggles and try to handle things on our own, instead of ask for help.
My friend didn’t allow pride to stop her from reaching out to others in her greatest time of need and because of this, she always had the prayers and the presence of those who cared, available to her 24/7.
2. There is no shame in being honest about what you’re truly thinking, feeling and experiencing, even if it’s not pretty. In fact, there is beauty in authenticity. Sometimes we shame each other when we have doubts or questions. When the reality is, it’s when we bring our doubts and questions before God that we are admitting that we don’t know it all and we need him. Humility. And it’s in our humility before God that he draws near to us. “The LORD is near the brokenhearted; he delivers those who are discouraged (Psalm 34:18 NET).
As my friend sought God in her weakest moments, I watched him take her from an overwhelming fear of dying and other unknowns to a place of unwavering faith and peace. It was like a miracle happening before my eyes!
3. There is safety in numbers. In order to apply lessons #1 and #2, we need to have safe people in our lives. People who love us, who are not impressed by us and who can handle our imperfections without judging. These are trustworthy people who won’t share your secrets or use them against you.
I watched my friend lean on a group of women who were able to be her strength when she had none, her courage when she was fearful and her hope when she felt hopeless. These Fearless Friends helped to protect her from and overcome the lies that are so often spoken to us in our most challenging times.
One Year Later
On January 11, 2019, exactly one year and one day after she gave me the bracelet and invited me to become a Fearless Friend, my dear friend, lost her battle with cancer, but won her place in the presence of the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.
At the age of 46, Elizabeth Koprosky stepped into Glory. I’ll miss our deep conversations over coffee, her love for people, and her passion for justice. But I will always hold on to the sweet memories and the life lessons she lived.
Who are your Fearless Friends? If no one comes to mind, maybe you will consider inviting some safe people to join you on your own personal journey…be it an exciting one or a challenging one.
Whatever life brings our way, it’s much better to face it with friends. We need each other.