Written by Ryan Keller, Executive Director
You know at Hope4Healing, like other places, we have terms that we use to describe who we are or what our partners do; sometimes, we forget that others may not understand the terms we use. I would like to share with you about one of our partner relationships that often is misunderstood. Hope4Healing, unlike other resource assistance networks, has a unique partner called the “Friendship Partner” or sometimes called the “Church Partner”. These two terms can be used interchangeably depending on what group we are talking too.
Our partnerships work like ingredients in a recipe; the final product doesn’t work if each ingredient (or partner) is not in the mix. With all of our partners working together, the end result is appealing and fulfilling for those families and individuals we serve. The other important part of that illustration is to understand that because each partner has a role to play, we take time to make sure our families and individuals that we serve know what each of our partners roles are and how they work. This is an important delineation; because just as you couldn’t substitute salt for sugar in a recipe, you can’t substitute a “Friendship Partner” for a “Referral Partner”, “Resource Partner”, or the Hope4Healing staff.
So what does a “Friendship Partner” do? Their job is to provide intentional friendship. Does that seem strange to you? How can friendship be intentional? We often believe that good friends happen because of some mysterious force or fate that brings two people together and the just click. Although it is true that similar interests or character traits might bring us together, it is the investment of time and intentionally make time for our friends that secures the friendship. It is only after these intentional efforts that we feel able to share our fears, be vulnerable, and to trust another person for emotional and spiritual support in our lives. It goes along with the old adage that “…know cares how much you know, until they know how much you care…” The best illustration of friendship being intentional is that of a married couple. When the couple dated, one or both were very intentional in wanting to get to know the other person. Dates were often planned to the most intricate detail, and were designed to be romantic so as to further develop an interest in being together. Often after marriage, and I see this everyday as a marriage and family therapist, one or both spouses forget to continue to intentionally pursue each other. The marriage becomes cold; and when they sit in the office across from me, they are astonished that they need to plan date nights and personal time together. After all, in marriage shouldn’t love be spontaneous, exciting, and shouldn’t we know each other so well that we can read each other’s minds? We forget how intentional we were when we dated.
The old saying goes that “…strangers are just friends we haven’t met yet…” We partner with churches across the state of Iowa to provide intentional friendships for the families and individuals we serve. On a basic level, we do this because there is a church in every community across Iowa, and church people are willing to provide intentional friendships without expectation of being reimbursed. Churches are uniquely equipped to provide emotional and spiritual support. If you are a church member who wants to learn how to be an intentional friend, check out this link from Little Light on a Hill: https://www.littlelightonahill.com/intentional-friendship/ . But, just as salt cannot replace sugar, remember that our “Friendship Partners” are not responsible for finding your resources or providing your resources. Their role in the Hope4Healing process is to encourage, be a true friend, and to be your personal, local connection to Hope4Healing; instead of talking to some stranger on the phone.
We would love to hear your questions or come present to your church, small group, or organization about what we do and how we can partner together to help families and individuals in need.