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On the Side - July 2013

by Carol Shrader

We had said our good-byes over a family dinner the night before the moving van arrived. They were painful, tear-filled and emotionally exhausting. And yet, dear Shelly showed up at my house bright and early to help entertain my children, sweep floors and throw all the coat-hangers in a box as the men were loading the gigantic truck for our move from Rochester.

Her husband was perplexed, “Why would you put yourselves through the pain of the good-bye…again?”

We had stood together through preschoolers throwing tantrums, grade-schoolers beginning their elementary careers, and husbands working such long hours that we saw each other more often than we saw them.

We had supported each other in our single-motherhood during residency years. And supported each other when it was time to again include our men in the decision-making, disciplining and house management decisions.

We had spent the years praying together for our families, and praying for each other to be sustained.

The pain of good-bye was not to be avoided by just not seeing each other again. The pain of good-bye was in the good-bye.

Many of you dear ones are experiencing just that pain this season as you pack up, load moving trucks and move your little families to the next adventure. I have already been praying for you. It is no small thing to stand side by side as you support your husbands in training. Many of you have been raising children together, leading small groups together, and building relationships that carried you through the challenging years of residency and possibly fellowship.

I know, my dears, I know. Today, may I encourage your hearts? The friendships that you have poured into during these training years are deep-rooted. They will not be blown away by a small thing like a moving truck.

This spring my Side By Side girlfriends gathered back in Rochester for a small weekend reunion. We came from Georgia, Arizona, and places in between. We came because life gets busy, and we had not gathered in years. We came because even though we have moved into different seasons and different time zones, we are still in need of women willing to stand side by side with us and walk with us through the life of being a medical wife.

And when we gathered, my friends, we went right back to where we had been the day we were all last together. No awkwardness. No uncomfortable silences. No shallow conversation.

We jumped right back in. Right back in. For 48 hours we talked and hugged and shed some tears. We discussed those little preschoolers graduating from high school and how to arrange marriages between our not-so-littles (ok, only in jest…but wouldn’t that be cool?). We worshipped together and came home to discuss late into the night how to move out of our comfort zones to help the hurting.

We opened our arms and met some new faces – still on the residency road. We gave them advice, and told them anecdotes of our days in the trenches and prayerfully, we encouraged their hearts to hold steady on the path.

All too fast we reached the good-bye again. Older, maybe wiser, we shed some tears and felt the heartache. But this time, we parted knowing that time and distance cannot separate the bonds forged through prayer, Bible Study, and walking a hard road together. We’ll be back. We’ll gather again.

And you will too. You will enter your new season – wherever the road has taken you – and will unpack, and open your heart to new friends, new relationships, and new adventures. Many of you will connect with a Side By Side chapter in your new adventure and perhaps others will be encouraged to begin a chapter.

“Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel.” Philippians 1:27 (ESV)

For whether together or apart, we will stand together in our faith, in our belief that through Jesus Christ we can accomplish every thing He sets before us.

I am praying for you, standing right here Side By Side.


Carol Shrader and her family of four kids, one pediatric orthopedic surgeon, and a cute dog, followed the moving truck all the way to Phoenix, Arizona. She gives thanks every day for faith-filled friends who encourage her, pray for her, and walk the hard roads with her.