I was out on my very first coon hunting trip with some longtime friends of mine and they took me down the road to meet their brother and sister-in law. Introductions were made first to Terry, who stood by the dog box lifting the howling hounds in, then to Carla his wife. She had her back to us as we walked up, and I had to cough back a laugh as she turned around. Here stood this tiny woman, decked out head to toe in camo for the hunt and as she turned around we had to take a step back and give her pregnant-bulging belly room to sway. I stood and smiled politely as I was given the accustomed introduction. “Carla, this is Melonie the preacher’s daughter.” Instantly a contagious smile spread across Carla’s face, “Howdy! I’m Carla, the drunk’s daughter!”
Immediately, I liked her.
Almost two years would pass before her and I would become "bf’s" (best friends). We visited a each other a couple of times in the in-between, each time drawn as if a magnetic force pulled us together. I was pleasantly surprised when her family started attending our church. I was absolutely THRILLED when I got a call from her sister-in-law saying that Carla had accepted Christ that evening after church. I waited what seemed like days, really about ten minutes, before calling and congratulating her. We talked for hours and created a bond that exists to this day.
Carla and I are many things to each other: confidants, partners in crime, sisters, and shopping pals (or lately, internet window-shopping pals). Most importantly, from the very beginning we have been accountability partners.
Proverbs 27:17 tells us, “As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend.” (NLT)
For years now, we have done our best to help each other “tow the line”. When we see each other stray, we loving do our best to get each other back on track. We even have a “vent” rule. When one of us is really upset, we call the other up, and without a greeting just say: “Ok, I’ve got to vent.”
The rule is that no matter what the other says, right or wrong, we listen empathetically as the other gets it out of their system. Then, inevitably, after the angered friend has calmed down you’ll hear the other say, “Alright, now you wanna know what I really think?”
When one of us is “on fire” the flames quickly spread to other, and when one’s flame begins to flicker as we allow Satan to creep too close the other friend is there to help rekindle that flame through their prayer and direct, but loving, confrontation.
We have discovered that a friendship, like any other relationship, is not always easy. We have had our ups and downs. Periods have gone by where we barely went to the bathroom without talking, then spells where months passed and we didn’t so much as whisper. I have found, through all our times, that my relationship with the Lord has been the deepest when I have had her by my side softly saying, “You wanna know what I really think?”
There have been many times when I have been tempted to take the low, easy road; to give up on my faith or just have a moment of weakness, that I have stopped short for fear (or foreknowledge) of Carla’s reaction. Just knowing that she was there with every intention of holding me accountable for my actions have shown me the truth in Solomon’s words.
James 5:19-20 says, "My brothers, if any among you strays from the truth, and someone turns him back, let him know that whoever turns a sinner from the error of his way will save his life from death and cover a multitude of sins."
As Christians, we are called to be a support to other Christians. We are to love them, and give them our ear, but when necessary hold them accountable for their actions. As hard as this can be, especially in a society where the popular mandate is to never offend, it is a necessity (and, speaking from experience, a true Godsend).