On the Side

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On the Side - April 2016

Three Strands = No Snap. 
 by Carol M. Shrader

 The auditorium stood and gave Wade and me a standing ovation when we rolled our 2-year-old triplets in through the door at the base of the stairs. The warmth that flooded me with that spectacular gesture was the first assurance that this day was going to turn out ok, in spite of all my worries.
It has been 17 years since our Match Day. Seventeen years since we were handed the envelope that said exactly what I had hoped and prayed it would say: Wade read “Mayo Clinic”, while I will forever maintain that the words inscribed on the page read “house, backyard, green grass.”
And if I am completely honest, I will tell you that way down deep I was also praying for “precious friends” to be implicit in the assignment. And not just friends, I was boldly asking God for a friend whose husband was in a surgical residency and had triplets or at the very least multiples. I mean, specifics couldn’t hurt, right?
And maybe that prayer wasn’t down as deep as I thought it was, because the boxes were barely unpacked before I was agreeing to any and every function that might lead me to find “her”.
Wade and I are not from a family of doctors. He is the first on both sides. When I say that we had no idea what the next few years would hold, I mean we had absolutely no idea. My imaginings were horrific and without evidence to convince me otherwise, I was practically curled up in the fetal position out of fear for what residency would do to my marriage.
So what I am telling you is that my prayer for a friend who could walk beside me came from a place of deep fear, longing and need.
We had visited a little church and the young moms there invited me to lunch at the indoor playground at McDonald’s. I had low expectations. Two of my three couldn’t climb in a play structure. I assumed we would get lunch and then leave. But just as I fed a nutritious chicken nugget to my son (y’all aren’t judging me, right?) another mom sat down across from me. When Avery said hello, her accent matched my own. I practically got whiplash when I turned my head to see if she had a triplet stroller! She didn’t. But she did have two sons -- one born the day before the triplets and the other a tiny baby. I sent an arrow prayer telling God that this was acceptable as her hands were certainly busy!
When she told me her husband was doing a surgical residency, my heart soared. Honestly, if I could have found a cute BFF necklace right then, I would have hung it around her neck. You know, if it wouldn’t have freaked her out completely. As it was, I am pretty sure I latched on as tight as I could.
We were as inseparable as two young moms married to surgical residents could be. We joined Side By Side together – a year later we were graciously asked to run Side By Side together with another dear sister God had given us, Shelly. God faithfully grew our faith, our prayer life and our friendships. And because of the support, the accountability and the love poured out, our marriages not only survived residency, but also thrived.
“Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.” Ecclesiastes 4:12
I have moved three times since that move for residency. Friends came, relationships were built in both the other two cities and this move is still fresh, but I am working on it! But I can tell you that I know beyond a doubt that God was at work in the way I met both Avery and Shelly. I know that He alone recognized the two who would provide me with an unbreakable cord. (And then He alone surrounded us with other friends to gird us up and love us!)
I love the way the Message translation says it:
“By yourself you’re unprotected. With a friend you can face the worst. Can you round up a third? A three-stranded rope isn’t easily snapped.”
Oh dear ones, many of you are packing boxes this month and preparing your homes for big changes. Please know you are not alone. All here have walked this road before you or are walking it with you. I am boldly asking God to send you a friend – and to help the two of you round up a third! Because even the weight of being married to a hard-working, long-hour-spending, patient-caring doctor cannot snap such a rope as that!
Carol M. Shrader

Carol Mason Shrader lives in Jackson, MS – her original home state but a brand new location – and is still praying for God to build her three-stranded cord here. Her triplets left the play equipment at McDonald’s for college but they still love a good chicken nugget; and her 10-year-old insists her tastes are more grown-up than that! She will celebrate 25 years of marriage to her orthopedic surgeon soon and knows that celebration is a testimony to having friends walk beside her!