Friendship is significant to women of all ages, but often a tricky thing to develop and maintain over time and different seasons if depth and growth are to be hallmarks of the relationship.
Into this arena comes Janice Peterson in a new book entitled Becoming Gertrude: How Our Friendships Shape Our Faith. Janice learned about lifelong bonds of friendship when a Southern neighbor invited her onto her back porch for lemonade and conversation. That seemingly casual relationship began to shape Janice’s faith and views on friendship that has been deepened by the wisdom of an octogenarian who lived as the wife of Eugene Peterson for more than 60 years.
Over the years of Janice’s life she passed on to other women what she learned through a treasured spiritual friendship with Gertrude Floyd while they sipped lemonade on her back porch. Now she has written a delightful book to share with readers what she gleaned. She points to the friendship she refers to as “spiritual friendship,” one that nourishes and nurtures.
Friendships require intentionality to grow and develop and help us see ourselves more clearly. Janice describes friendship this way:
“Good friends challenge us in the areas where we are weak and encourage us forward. Spiritual friendship takes us to a depth of relationship that enriches us both − it’s hard to stay shallow when we decide to be honest about our relationship with God and what he is teaching us. When we invest in those sorts of friendships, every part of our lives becomes richer, because we are allowing God to speak into all of our experiences.”
Janice goes on to identify and write about five elements of spiritual friendship − caring, accepting, serving, offering hospitality, and encouraging others. She notes that each of these “overlaps and flows through the others, creating a strong cord of friendship that cannot be broken.”
This little book offers treasured insights from Janice that you will want to tuck into your heart. Perhaps you glimpse the life of this woman best in these lines by her husband, Eugene Peterson, about her in contrast to him:
“While I have written extensively on spiritual theology, she has practiced the art of spiritual friendship, ‘always present, always caring.’ She is the most practical theologian I know. Through the deeply personal friendships she has invested herself in over the course of her lifetime, she has become more her God-created self in the company of others. As I have in hers.”
To comply with new regulations introduced by the Federal Trade Commission, Tyndale House Publishers provided me with a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for my review.