Spiritual companion relationships are formed as two or more people walk an intentional journey of growing in faith and life together. These stories of spiritual companions at Prince of Peace were collected by Olivia Smoldt-Hall, communications intern at Prince of Peace. If you would like more information on becoming a spiritual companion, contact Pastor jeff Marian.
Dietrich Drenkow: A New Kind of Gym Bromance
My trips to the gym usually mean hours (well, fine, minutes) of pain, sweat, and regret (for that second (ok, third) slice of cheesecake). Following a recent move back to his hometown of Waverly, IA, Dietrich Drenkow decided to get more creative with his time at the workout center. He used the time to reconnect with two high school friends and, in between lunges and spotting, the “bros” talked about what everyone does at a gym: bad knees, long-lost youth, and God.
The setting might be unconventional, but Dietrich swears these sessions have fostered spiritual renewals in his friends. One man recently began attending church again after an adulthood of absence, while the other continues to explore his faith one rep at a time. Dietrich now looks forward to his workouts, and calls it his “spiritual maintenance time.”
Amy and Livi: Sisters in Christ
Like many kids at summer camp, Amy and Livi became fast friends during a week at Ingham Okoboji Lutheran Bible Camp (IOLBC but, unlike many of these pairs, Amy and Livi have remained close friends despite distance and age difference.
Last summer, Amy got super-psyched to attended camp for the first time. She hoped to find people willing to talk about God because Amy didn’t have family that liked to talk about faith and religion. Lvi, Amy’s cabin counselor, stepped up to help.
Amy easily recounts how Livi’s guidance and friendship have changed her life: “Livi offered to be my “faith partner” who I can always ask my questions to when we talk over Facebook. She is right there with a bible passage and great advice. Livi keeps me accountable to reading my bible and praying, even if she doesn’t say anything, I remember to because of her.”
Livi equally appreciates Amy’s friendship. She so admires the younger girl’s passion for learning about God. “Amy has been a constant source of joy and encouragement to me, and knowing that we are sisters in Christ binds us together despite our distance.”
Danette Hanson: What Prayer Can Do
For years, six women have met once a month, every month, to share their lives and their heartbreaks with one another. These “soul sisters” do not meet up to hold a whining hour; they gather together to pray. It works because, as one soul sister says, “I know that I can trust these women to hold in confidence anything I share.”
With trust affirmed, they have let one another help carry their most terrifying burdens. They have prayed for healthy babies and healed babies, for discernment in parenting, for safety and healing, for better sleep, and peaceful mission trips. Sometimes answers arrive quickly; sometimes the answer comes from engaging with the women in prayer.
Dave’s Story as told to Olivia Smoldt-Hall
I met Mary in October of 2007 after a year that I would have gladly given back. Eight months earlier my wife had passed away following a long struggle with cancer, and I had not yet inched toward recovery from her death.
Mary and I met on a mission trip to Mississippi. As we waited to load the bus, Mary connected with my daughter, who had come to see me off, and as we climbed aboard, Mary asked me if I would mind sitting with her on the trip, as she was new to Prince of Peace.
We rode along sharing our stories with one another—each full of recent heartbreak. We passed the next five days together, and we kept experiencing “God moments” that seemed determined to bind us in permanent friendship.
I felt, and still feel, that God intended our friendship to be a lifelong relationship, sealed with His amazing love and grace, and, although we have a platonic partnership, we have formed a bond of love and trust as strong as I have ever felt.
I have supported for Mary as she lost her long-term job and dealt with the tragic death of a beloved sibling, and she has kept me going as I battle through cancer and work to overcome my grief over my dear wife’s death.
I can hardly wait for that glorious day in paradise when I have the pleasure to introduce m two very best friends on earth to each other!
The Best Kind of Partner
In our world all types of “partnership” exist. Business mergers and marriages create multitudes of partners every year, but why do some partnerships flourish while others crumble? Seasoned marriage vets, Handt and Kathy Hanson understand the difficulty of staying committed, compassionate partners in marriage. But, these two have a secret to success. Each morning they spend some time sharing a devotion; they read, ponder, and discuss the material. Their day begins only after a prayer closes the worship time. Handt and Kathy’s morning ritual allows them to start their day with conversations and ideas that grow their desire to serve. While it might not be practical for everyone to set aside morning time to engage on a spiritual and intellectual level (coffee can only do so much), plan a few moments as often as possible to talk with your partner about matters more lofty than the grocery list. Handt swear by the daily dose: “We are able to grow together as husband and wife because we grow together as companions in faith.”
Friends arrive in our lives through all sorts of doors. Pastor Rothschiller met one of her closest friends, Sheryl, nearly twenty years ago when both were stressed-out young moms who bumped into one another while out walking their respective babies. Their acquaintance gradually deepened as conversations morphed from complaining sessions about sleep deprivation to chats about faith.
Sandy recalls one tide-turning conversation in their relationship. Out for one of their walk and talks (no, not the Aaron Sorkin kind), each lady revealed she had been praying for a new friend to come along to help her through life’s spiritual journey.
Sandy and Sheryl have each undergone some trying times since their friendship began, and they have always encouraged one another through the pain. Sandy recalls how both women have “taken the opportunity to share with one another how we have seen God in the midst of our struggles.” But, when times seem almost unbearable, they sit, listen, and pray. And, when joy shows up again, Sheryl and Sandy rejoice together.
Friendship offers us such joy, and friends who are also spiritual companions make life all the more enjoyable.