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Melissa Presser reflects on how a godly friendship taught her the unconditional love of Christ.

Being a Jewish girl who converted to the Catholic faith is not easy. In fact, it sometimes feels impossible. Not impossible to love Jesus or impossible to embrace the faith, but impossible to find someone who understands your story. And while I have met so many beautiful friends since I became Catholic, there is one in particular who feels like home.

Jen and I grew up worlds and customs and miles apart. She grew up in a large Catholic family in Indiana with her father as a deacon in the Church. I grew up in the hustle and bustle of Miami as a Jewish girl in a family where it was only my sister and me.

She grew up with seasons and I grew up with none. She knew who Jesus was, while I assumed that Jesus was only the God of the Gentiles. Our styles, upbringing and religious backgrounds did not make us perfect candidates for friends. But in 2016, Jesus thought otherwise.

I only knew of her through friends of friends at our church. We crossed in between one another but never directly—that was until she decided that she too had to meet the Jewish girl, and sat next to our family one Sunday at Mass.

After the music ended, she slid across the pew and asked if my family wanted to come over for dinner. Surely, she was not talking to me: she didn’t even know me! I knew she’d have to forgive me, as we South Floridians are not known for inviting complete strangers over to our house for dinner. She must have read the look on my face when she asked me, because her twinge of hesitancy to approach me showed.

I decided to say yes to dinner. I don’t know if it was because it was so unexpected or because it was so out of character in the South Florida landscape, but her genuineness to get to know us really intrigued me. We headed home and my husband told me how shocked he was that I had accepted a complete stranger’s invitation. It was so completely out of character for me to say yes to a person I barely knew. But then again, I said yes to Christ, and I hadn’t known Him at all.

That night, my whole family jumped in the car and headed over to our newfound friend’s house to break bread. We had nothing special planned, just a time for our families to get to know one another. We headed to the dining room for prayer and food, and soon the conversation began to flow and quickly turned to our conversion.


2 women eating dinner at a counter in the kitchen


Jen was fascinated to hear our family’s story. She and her husband listened intently as we talked about our journey to Christ and our lives as a Jewish couple prior to meeting Jesus. They had lots of questions and we were glad to share our answers. We were there for hours just talking and laughing and genuinely enjoying one another’s company. Suddenly our worlds did not seem so far apart.

This is because at the heart of who we were was the love of Christ, and this is what brought us together.

I’ve had many friendships in my life and I am grateful for every one of them, but before I became a Catholic, I had never had a friendship whose foundation was built on God. This solid foundation in our Lord would prove to be the steady ground that I needed, the friendship that I was praying for.


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At the heart of who we were was the love of Christ, and this is what brought us together. #catholicmom

It has been several years since our first meeting in the pews, and since then our friendship has withstood the many storms that life brings. Jen became the anchor I needed to hold on to my faith when the waters got rough, and I vowed to also stand in the gap for her when she needed me the most. There was no time where I ever questioned where her heart was in giving me advice, and we prayed for one another daily and sometimes hourly when life got rough.

So, when God told me it was time for Jen to move back home, my heart sank. What was I going to do? How could I be without her here? But it was soon thereafter that I knew she was needed over there, and I rested in knowing that God had great plans for her.


friends cooking together


It’s only been a week and I miss her terribly. But I know that it’s all part of the journey. My peace comes through Christ that abides in our friendship whether we are right next to one another or a million miles apart. It is in fact the preparation for eternity.

Copyright 2022 Melissa Presser
Images: Canva Pro