The Overflow! where souls are filled and faith is spilled

The Buddy Bench

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Today, I’m over at Encouragement for Today talking about friendship and mud puddles and the powerful gift of presence. And if you keep reading, I’ll tell you about the “Buddy Bench” on my daughter’s playground, because I think we all could learn a few lessons from this simple wooden seat…


“What’d you do at recess today?” I asked my seven-year-old, Maggie, as we lingered with ice cream cones on the back deck at the end of a hot September school day.

My daughter paused and then cocked her head in thought as if the school day were already an ancient memory.  She lifted her ice cream cone to her mouth and scooped a melty lick of chocolate sweetness with her slender pink tongue; then she closed her eyes as if the answer to my question might be painted across the back of her eyelids.

Brown drizzles slithered from her lips to her chin, and suddenly my girl’s eyes popped open with a burst of recollection. “Oh, now I remember….I played a game on the monkey bars,” Maggie exclaimed.

She bit into what was left of her ice cream cone and gave me a knowing nod. “And I kept an eye on the buddy bench, of course,” she added with a toothless smile.

While it’s no rousing ride like the bumpy slides or a childhood staple like the chain-link swings, the buddy bench is my favorite part of the playground at my daughter’s elementary school.

A painted wooden seat planted beneath the canopy of a sprawling tree, the buddy bench, is the place where children go when they need a friend.

It’s a sanctuary for the sad, a pew for the lonely, and a refuge for the hurting.

That humble little bench is a silent summons to be seen instead of overlooked, fortified instead of forgotten, loved instead of lonely.  

When a child can’t find a friend, she sits on the buddy bench.

When a child has been left-out or left-behind, he sits on the buddy bench.

When a child just needs a helping hand, a listening ear, a willing companion, she sits on the buddy bench.

And according to my watchful daughter, nobody sits alone on that buddy bench for long. After all, in the words of a pretty smart second-grader, “Anyone can be a friend.”

I think what I love most about this special playground seat is that it carries no stigma nor shame; it invokes no criticism nor chortling. It merely issues an unspoken invitation:

Will you join me in my time of need?

It’s something we’ve all asked, isn’t it?

When the discouragement looms large or disappointment swells sore, we wonder–

Who will offer hope in our hopelessness?

Who will extend mercy in our mess?

Who will proffer prayer in our pain?

The idea of that little buddy bench is so powerful that the first time my daughter told me about it, my eyes welled with tears.

Maybe it was because I was stumbling through a wearisome wilderness of my own, and I wanted a friend to share my steps.

Or maybe it was because any woman who has ever walked the dust of this earth knows that sometimes the road feels long and it seems like no one cares.


But here’s what I’ve been learning lately–

The playground isn’t the only place to find a friend when we’re lonely and discouraged.

When our “buddy bench” sits empty and our pain seems to go unnoticed, God’s Word assures us that we are not alone.

When it feels like there’s no one to sit with us in our struggles, we’re wise to remember that we have a Savior who has already stood in the gap. 

And because of His work on the cross, our Most Faithful Friend  isn’t sitting on a wooden bench, He’s sitting on the throne of grace (Hebrews 4:16)/

Of course, in elementary-school-playground-lingo, that throne of grace might be called “Heaven’s buddy bench.”

Because the One who sits there is watching and waiting for us to draw near.

So, next time we’re longing for a friend, let’s approach that throne of grace in prayer and ask that question that’s burning on our hearts—Will you join me in my time of need?

And when we lean in and listen, we’ll hear our Best Buddy of All say, “I’ve been here all along.”

“I will never leave you; I will always be by your side.” Hebrews 13:5

**********************************************************************************************************************uninvited-bookcoverToday, I’m giving away a copy of Lysa TerKuerst’s new book, Uninvited: Living Loved when you feel Left-out, Less-than or Lonely. It’s the perfect gift for a friend who needs a simple reminder that God sees her and so do you! To enter to win, just tell us–if you could invite a friend to the “buddy bench” today, who would it be? (To find out more about Lysa TerKeurst and Uninvited go to

Oh, and one final thing before you go—

I’m super excited to be offering a new speaking package for the 2016-2017 ministry year—

FULFILLED is a gift for any woman who is tired of living with full hands and an empty soul! Heavy on hope and light on rush, this powerful event will invite women to slow down and fill up on the Word of God; to laugh, to listen, and to remember that they are lavishly loved. Let Alicia tailor a FULFILLED event just for you and turn your next women’s retreat, mom’s group, or girl’s night out into a spa for the soul. Want to know more?  Email Alicia at:

40 thoughts on “The Buddy Bench

  1. Lynn Snipes

    My friend Gail is recently divorced, she is miserable in her current Army duty station and her mom’s health is failing. She is questioning if God really loves her and I am not sure how to encourage her.

    October 7, 2016 at 4:23 am
  2. Rose Ann Barber

    As I was reading your devotion this morning, a ‘friend’ I’ve recently met @ church came to mind. I’m ashamed that I haven’t responded well…partly because of my own burdens & partly because I think I don’t know what to say. This has an awesome message!

    October 7, 2016 at 4:58 am
  3. I have a friend who is really going through some trials with her sons and husband. She is an amazing woman who inspires me daily! However, I know that she could use some encouragement. Thank you for your devotion. I love the idea of the “buddy bench”.

    October 7, 2016 at 5:13 am
  4. Karen C.

    I would invite my friend who is working 2 jobs and at the same time is taking care of her husband who has health issues and her brother who is fighting cancer.

    October 7, 2016 at 5:47 am
  5. Dana

    My friend Colleen, who has no living family, has been dealing with months of chemotherapy to fight breast cancer for the second time. Now the chemotherapy has caused her to have heart problems, so she has to begin treatment for those issues as well. She lost her job because she has been too sick to go to work, so several of us who love her have stepped up to help pay her bills. But, as you can imagine, Colleen is really low right now.

    October 7, 2016 at 6:03 am
  6. Sarah

    Beautiful reminder that we are called to sit with our friends in their muck and we are to be a friend who loves them and supports them in the good and the bad. I would have my dear friend sit with me on the buddy bench and share her 8 year struggle with her son who struggles with drug addiction and mental illness. I would listen to her remember who he was, who he is now, and what we are all praying he will become.

    October 7, 2016 at 6:07 am
  7. My daughter-in-law Shelby. She is a bit of a loner and is really struggling being away from her family while living as a military spouse.

    October 7, 2016 at 6:31 am
  8. Jennifer

    My friend Carol who is hurting due to being judged by someone else. I’m glad to have her sit on my living room buddy bench each week for prayer and study. God, please help her know you are always listening. And Jesus, help me feel your embrace when the weight of miscarriage grief is hardest to bear.

    October 7, 2016 at 6:42 am
  9. Elaine Segstro

    I would invite my friend Trudy to sit on the “muddy bench” with me. She has gone through SO much with family trials and the accompanying anxiety and guilt.

    October 7, 2016 at 6:58 am
  10. Ashley

    My friend Sara who’s raising small children and working.

    October 7, 2016 at 7:05 am
  11. Elizabeth

    My sister Rebekah. We live too far away from each other and neither of us live near our mom. So often I wish we could help each other out. Sit down for a good chat.

    October 7, 2016 at 7:12 am
  12. Mel

    I would invite my dear friend Jill. She is a Mum of 5, the last having special needs and requires extra therapy and time. Jill gives so much to those around her, but often has nothing left. I would love to sit on the buddy bench to walk through life along side her!

    October 7, 2016 at 7:21 am
  13. Lauralee

    I’m blessed to have found Godly single moms who pulled me from the buddy bench many times during and after my divorce. Several of them recommend this book. My daughter struggles through her pain. The enemy seems to be near to the broken-hearted as well. I’m praying today that the right friend sees her hurting there on the imaginary buddy bench of middle school and reaches out.

    October 7, 2016 at 7:47 am
  14. Rhonda Coe-Beck

    My best friend has lost 2 adult sons in 8 months. One to depression ending his own life and another to a drug overdose. There are no words I can give her to ease her pain. She doesn’t want to hear how sovereign God is or how He can heal. She’s hurt and angry. So,I help her clean her house. I listen when she talks or cries. I just sit with her. But mostly I just pray over her. This will be a long journey to reach any understanding, healing or peace. My faith will be her faith as she struggles with hers. I’m trusting God to use me to help her.

    October 7, 2016 at 8:04 am
    1. Elaine

      What a wonderful testimony. You are doing just what she needs. Often in this situation friends back away because they don’t have words to fix it. What a wonderful way of being her faith and holding her up. God bless you and I will be praying for both of you.

      October 8, 2016 at 12:27 am
    2. Rhonda,
      I’m praying for your best friend. I’m glad she has you to sit beside her. Just being with her will touch those hurting parts. I’m praying for her. That God would wrap his arms around her broken heart.


      October 8, 2016 at 6:54 am
  15. beth

    Ok so im not really inviting anyone I am going to sit on the bench!!! I need a friends just a friend would be nice…I am the owner/boss of our business and so the rol of befriending anyone at work is the verge of crossing employee/employer boundaries. I am 46 with a 6 year old so I am a little old at the school functions to FIT in…I m lost….

    October 7, 2016 at 8:08 am
    1. Elaine

      I would sit with you. I am a retired teacher and would love to sit and chat. If you are interested we can chat on messenger. I kniw how it feels to be the oldest in a group but remember those younger moms have many of the same issues you do. Reply here or messenger me at Elaine steen ledlow. May you be blessed!

      October 8, 2016 at 12:33 am
  16. Tonya

    My sweet friend, Pam, has had such a rough yr…her 14 y/o daughter has been sick for an entire yr…lost 50 lbs…with numerous dr/er/specialists visits and tests but still no diagnosis…

    My friend is a personal sitter who is EXCELLENT at her job…no doubt, used by God to be the answer to people’s prayers, but she often works the night shift and then the day shift…she runs on VERY little sleep

    And, yet she almost NEVER misses a church service and is SUCH an encouragement to everyone she meets…

    I would so appreciate prayers, lifting her up and she waits on the Lord.

    October 7, 2016 at 8:19 am
  17. Rita

    My friend has stage 4 cancer and is such a blessing to everyone. She was told last week she has a new spot on her spine. I would love to give this to her as a encouragement.

    October 7, 2016 at 8:41 am
  18. Patricia

    My friend from the past. If she were sitting on the bench, I would run, not walk to sit along side of her. I have thought about her for years and wondered how it would be for her and I to rekindle that much needed friendship again after many years gone by….

    October 7, 2016 at 8:48 am
  19. Janice

    I would invite my friend who lost her husband to cancer and is walking through this grief without the Lord. I would love for her to know our Savior’s love and compassion.

    October 7, 2016 at 9:10 am
  20. De

    My beautiful friend Ann who just lost her son after a 2 year battle. My heart breaks for her.

    October 7, 2016 at 10:19 am
  21. Karol

    I would want to invite quite a few. Well, if we squeeze in a little, we all may fit on the same bench and just love on each other, draw from each other’s strengths. I have a couple of seriously ill friends and it makes me sad, but the one I would prioritize right now is the one who recently lost her father to cancer. She had to be the strong one in the family and make everything run smoothly in his last days and thereafter. Or she so deserves a spa treat at the very least for everything she has done! I totally felt the same way you described in the devotion today. I wanted to support her but I was out of words. I did not want to say any empty words, but what could I say that would truly somehow make her feel better?!…
    I would love the book too. I am sure we could read it all ”on the bench'” together or one after another :).

    October 7, 2016 at 10:31 am
    1. Elaine

      It is an awesome book.

      October 8, 2016 at 12:36 am
    2. Karol,
      Sitting with her spoke to her in a way words never could.

      October 8, 2016 at 6:58 am
  22. Nena

    Oh wow! I loved your entries today about the mud puddle and the buddy bench! They gave me the wonderful idea of putting a “buddy bench” in my front yard. I appreciate the fact that Proverbs 31 offers these giveaways too. I haven’t “won” the free gift yet, but would like to. In the meantime, I’m sure each one receiving it is the one who God chose to receive that blessing. Thanks 🙂

    October 7, 2016 at 10:54 am
  23. Faye Howard

    I’d love to give this gift to a young lady named Ashley that is in the small group book study that I’m part of at our church. She’s a young 20-something that is a recovering addict and is really, really working hard at getting her life back on track with the help of God our Father. She’s a single-mom to a 15 month old son, has a heart for Jesus and a bright future ahead of her.

    October 7, 2016 at 11:23 am
  24. Courtney

    Considering, as you stated above, God is already, & forever, on our buddy bench, the person that I would most want sitting there with me would be my husband. He is my best, & probably my only true, friend! It seems like he has turned his back to my bench, in the last year or so, & I would love, & need, to have him back, watching & waiting, for whenever I need him to come sit with me.

    October 7, 2016 at 11:45 am
    1. Courtney,

      I’m praying he comes back to you. Praying right now.

      October 8, 2016 at 7:00 am
  25. I would invite my friend Lynn to the Buddy Bench. She has a lot going on right now in her life, taking in a three year old foster child and trying to stay tuned to what God is telling her is best for this little blessing that ha’s been temporarily placed in her cate to love and nurture.

    October 7, 2016 at 3:04 pm
  26. Tatina

    My friend Terrell needs to visit the buddy bench. I met her through teaching her daughter in school. Her daughter and I bonded instantly giving me small moments to spread light into her life. She shared with me her mother practiced the Wiccan religion. While many people would be offended, I became a Christian when I was 25. I understood the pull and curiosity of the occult when I was searching for the truth. My student invited me to an art showing, giving me the opportunity to really talk with her mom. From then on her mom trusted me with her daughter’s well-being. Recently, my mom passed away from cancer and a week later, she lost her grandfather who raised her. I invited her daughter to church with me (she’s no longer my student). She accepted and mentioned when she returned from the funeral. Her mother gave her permission to go with us. After they returned, her mother sat with my husband and I at a football game. She shared her religious background and was happy her daughter was going to church. She shared her rough life and how now she no longer runs in those circles. I know God wants me to embrace this family and help bring them to Him. Please pray for His strength to fall upon me and the Holy Spirit to speak through me for their salvation.

    October 7, 2016 at 3:56 pm
  27. Twyla

    I have been on that buddy bench when my dear friend, Faye, came and sat with me. This has been a crazy summer and we haven’t shared time on the buddy bench recently. She’s been caring for her mother who has cancer. I’m thankful to have her as a friend. She has prayed for me often.

    October 7, 2016 at 8:21 pm
  28. Heidi Tort

    I would like to invite my friend Marje to the buddy bench. After a struggle to get pregnant her and her husband finally had a baby boy. One year later her husband passed away suddenly of cancer. Her son was diagnosed w autism. Her family all live in Sweden. She is an awesome mother and very good friend of mine. I would love for her to get to know God on a deeper level and feel God’s peace and love surround her.

    October 7, 2016 at 9:31 pm
  29. I think I’m on the bench. I do have friends, but we recently lost our 14 month old granddaughter. And grief seems to be a solitary journey. I’m so glad that when we feel alone, God gently reminds us that he is there. And my heart goes out to those who do not know him. For he promised he would never leave those of us who know him. And he never breaks his promises. Never.

    October 8, 2016 at 7:05 am
  30. Monica

    My friend Michelle us who I would bring to the buddy bench. I believe God’s got a blessing in store for her. We encourage each other.

    October 8, 2016 at 12:27 pm
  31. Rita

    I would desperately want to invite my husband. He is fearful & cynical due to the many previous hurts & betrayals & does not open up and share. I have been on this bench for a very long time & I am healing & desire to help others as Jesus heals the loved ones in my circle and those He puts in my path. I continually & fervently for my dear husband, that the Holy Spirit would fill him to overflowing and reveal his Holy presence and divine purpose for his aching soul, mind & body.

    Blessings to you for your ministry; I am grateful.

    October 8, 2016 at 12:59 pm
  32. Anna Medina

    I could invite my two daughters. They are each going through their own journeys, I would just love to sit on the buddy bench with them. They both live away from home.

    October 11, 2016 at 2:59 pm
  33. This devotion is a reminder to something I just went THROUGH with my cousin. She is 46 diagnose with breast cancer, when she found out she called her close friends and they all cried and prayed together.. I thought if something like that happen to me who would I call. I don’t think I have had enough time to be a friend. I have been so busy living a VERY life that didn’t or haven’t nourished a friendship. I mean a real close friendship. After going thru all this with my cousin it made me realize what is important in life. Not being a workaholic and putting my priorities in order. I am letting go of my business and trying to be a friend. I would win this for my best friend (she don’t have many friends ) I don’t get to see but are planning a date with. Janet Wilson. I long for her friendship. Didn’t judge me when I was going thru a very bitter and rough time. she was there for me.. but as I took on responsibilities and worked 3 plus jobs our friendship wavered.
    But trying to gain it back again.

    October 13, 2016 at 12:50 pm
  34. Jen patmos

    Can I be Added to the overflow email ?

    December 1, 2016 at 9:25 pm

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