Preparing for the Journey
Walking alongside another can be likened to a long-distance hike. Preparation takes place long before the trek begins. Questions are asked and answered with care: How far should I go? Am I physically prepared for the undertaking? Where am I going to go? When am I going to go? Do I need a map or guidebook to keep me on course? Have I set realistic goals? What will I do for shelter? Is my footwear adequate? Do I have the right food? Should I carry a cell phone? What kind of clothing should I wear? What about water? Do I have realistic expectations? How will I protect myself? Do I have necessary supplies in case I am injured? What is my contingency plan in case my plans go awry?
In much the same way a walk alongside (WA) friend prepares to journey with one who needs encouragement or is wounded. Often God prepares a WA friend by allowing that one to experience difficulties of his own. II Corinthians 1:3-6 encourages, "Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God. For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows." Speaker and author Florence Littauer declares, "Suffering is not a weapon, it is a tool used by a master craftsman, God, to fashion, manage, and mold my life."
Before venturing out a wise WA friend asks many questions of himself - "Is God asking me to walk alongside this individual? If so, what is He asking of me in this situation? Is He calling me here for the long-haul, or for only a portion of the journey? Am I adequately prepared to care? Am I spritually prepared for this undertaking? How much personal stress do I have in my life at this time; do I have a margin that I can give from? (Keep in mind, you cannot give from a deficit.) Am I rescuing or enabling and thereby bringing more harm? How will I protect myself from unnecessary wounding? Do I have adequate supplies? Do I have an up-to-date map to guide us over unknown trails? Do I realistically know my limitations?? When and how do I refer the one I am helping to pastoral care or a Christian professional counselor?" No doubt you can add additional questions to this list.
This section speaks to the walkalongside friend's personal preparation.
Preparation for the Calling
Lord, I Want to be Real
Am I Enough?
Tis So Sweet