I have recently finished Soul Friend: The story of a shared spiritual journey, by Jo-Anne Berthelsen. This book was an unusual read for me as I tend to prefer fiction, but I found myself thinking about a lot of things in my own life as I read this book. Please take a moment to read the short interview I have conducted with Jo-Anne below. I hope you will get a copy of Soul Friend, and that in reading it, you will make some discoveries about yourself, just as I did.
Soul Friend is an honest and intimate portrayal of the author’s own journey with her wise, spiritual mentor and the warm, life-giving relationship that developed between them during their fifteen years of meeting together. This story is written in the hope that it will inspire many not only to seek out such a spiritual friendship for themselves but also to provide such a friendship for another.
Among other things, a soul friend loves and respects you, listens to you, notes what God is doing in your life, is prepared to pray for you, encourages you and shares godly wisdom with you when necessary.
2. What can a ‘soul friend’ type relationship teach us that other relationships cannot?
We can learn so much in all our relationships, but I think a ‘soul friend’ type of relationship teaches us so much more about God and about ourselves. It mirrors to us in a special way God’s own love, grace, wisdom and faithfulness, thus strengthening and enhancing our relationship with God. And it also helps us to face issues with honesty and integrity, to live our lives in the best way we can and to go deeper with God in the midst of it all.
3. A true friend will lovingly point out our faults, as well as our virtues. How does a ‘soul friend’ relationship survive honest moments such as these?
Of all friends, a soul friend cares about the deepest parts of us and wants us to experience the growth and healing we all need, so will take the risk of challenging us at times. I think one key to surviving such moments is to take time initially to build up the relationship so that there is a basis of trust between you. Another is to be loving and gracious in the way we do challenge the other person and not convey the idea that we ourselves have everything together! And a third aspect I feel is very important is to cover everything in prayer, asking God what to say and how to respond when the challenges come.
4. In your opinion, when can a close friendship become a destructive relationship?
Things can go wrong if a close friend wants to wield too much power over us and become too controlling, so that we feel we are losing who we are as a person and are unable to make our own decisions before God. Perhaps he or she might do this by speaking too forcefully, by not listening to us or even by withdrawing in some way. That’s why things like respect for each other and prayer are so important in a relationship.
5. What would you like readers to take away from reading yours and Joy’s journey together in ‘Soul Friend – The story of a shared spiritual journey’?
I would love my readers to be inspired to find a soul friend for themselves who can be there for them in their own spiritual journey and/or to be that soul friend for someone else. And I would love any readers going through similar challenges to those I write about in ‘Soul Friend’ to be encouraged and feel understood in their own journeys. But beyond that, I hope my book enables readers to catch some further glimpse of the amazing love, grace, patience and faithfulness of God for each one of us!