The Blessing of Friendship
An Interview with Lysa TerKeurst and Renee Swope

Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work: If one falls down, his friend can help him up…” Ecclesiastes 4:9-10a

Hi, I’m Holly Good, Lysa’s assistant, and I’m also friends with both Lysa and Renee. This month we thought it would be fun to have some girl talk with the women behind the voices of our radio show. Whenever I have the opportunity to spend time with Lysa and Renee, our conversations tend to revolve around food, family, ministry, exercise, clothing and more food. We recently discussed their long-standing close friendship, which also spans many years of partnership in ministry. Here’s a bit of what they shared with me:

Holly: How did you two become friends?

Renee: In early 1995, my mom sent an article to me from the Charlotte Observer about a few women who had started a local ministry to encourage moms. My husband and I were newlyweds living in Virginia, expecting our first baby in May, and moving to Charlotte in July. Mom put a sticky note on it that said, "These sound like the kind of friends you need. I hope you find them when you get to Charlotte."

I needed a friend before we moved, so I decided to call information for the TerKeurst phone listing. After all, the article mentioned that Lysa’s husband owned a Chick-fil-A, and I had worked at Chick-fil-A in high school. Plus, she was also expecting a baby in May. I thought surely these were signs from God we were meant to be friends!

Lysa probably thought I was a lunatic, but she was sweet when I called. She shared her pediatrician’s name, suggested areas of Charlotte for apartments and encouraged me to call when we got here. That summer when we moved to Charlotte, we had lunch at Chick-fil-A and became friends over chicken nuggets, sweet tea and two adorable babies who were born just a week apart.

Holly: How do you protect your friendship?

Lysa: Renee and I have some understandings between us that have helped protect our friendship. One is the commitment to never speak dishonoring words about one another. Careless words crush friendships. I love and treasure Renee, therefore I carefully watch the words I use when talking about her. She can trust my words will build her up and not tear her down. I have this same security with her. It’s amazing how this can build a friendship.

Renee: Another commitment we made is to always believe the best of each other. If one of us does or says something that would hurt the others’ feelings, we’ve decided to recalculate our thoughts and emotions under the assumption that the other person loves us, is for us, and would never intentionally hurt us.

Holly: What’s an example of when you had to make this choice?

Lysa: Last New Year’s Eve, I invited Renee and her family over for dinner and games. She seemed hesitant. At first, I was tempted to believe she was waiting for a better offer to come along, which hurt. But I know Renee loves me and likes spending time with me. So, I made the choice to believe the best in her.

A few days later, she confided that she and her husband had been in an argument that very day about her making plans without consulting him. She wasn’t blowing me off; she was trying to honor her husband. Since he was with her when I called, she couldn’t explain the situation to me fully. As it turns out, her family came over and we had a great time bringing in the New Year!

Renee: It’s interesting that our decision to believe the best actually came out of a struggle in our friendship years ago. When I first got to know Lysa, I didn’t understand how she could do all that she did and be there for her family too. I thought she needed to be home more. I was projecting my expectations onto her and not believing the best. God really challenged me to trust Lysa’s relationship with Him and become one of her biggest encouragers.

What’s funny about that whole issue is that five years later God called me to do the very thing I questioned her for. Guess that teaches us to be careful about criticizing someone else, or we might find ourselves walking in their shoes just a few years later.

You know, believing the best about each other also helps us speak the best about each other, so these two commitments really go hand in hand for any friendship.

Holly: Any last words on friendships?

Lysa: Friendships are wonderful, but they take work. Just like every other relationship, you can’t stop investing and expect them to stay healthy. Honestly, I don’t have as many friends as my personality type usually likes. But, in this season of my life, I only have time to make the necessary investments for healthy friendships with a handful of people. Because of this, I can sometimes feel lonely.

So, when I feel this way, I take the initiative to plan some girlfriend time. Instead of waiting for others to invite me, I pick up the phone and make some kind of a plan. And hopefully, they won’t blow me off. Ahem. (Belly laughs ensue.)

Renee: One thing I’ve learned is that friendships change over time. Some friends are for a season. As our lives change, our friendships will too. Sometimes a friend may still be in our lives but the nature of our friendship changes. Schedules get full, one of you moves, or something makes it hard to spend time together. I try to make every effort to be intentional about keeping those friendship ties strong while also being flexible. When I find a friend who really understands me, encourages who God is calling me to be, and will walk with me (even from a distance), it’s worth every bit of creativity and sacrifice to make sure that friendship lasts.

Holly: Thanks for sharing your hearts and your friendship with our readers.


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