It’s nice to have friends & acquaintances with various strengths. And there’s downsides to everyone, including you & me! Some of the downsides to being my friend is that I’m quirky & sometimes unreliable.I can also be quiet & unconventional.
But with Jesus, there’s no downside, except that our flesh doesn’t appreciate some of the divine input Jesus has for our lives. Ultimately, our flesh is a downside in any relationship & Jesus is always not just the upside, but even better, the upgrade for doing all of our relationships!Let’s allow Jesus to be part of all of our lives!
I think we all have friends that fit into one of these categories. The “poof friends” seem to vanish when there’s work, adversity or discomfort. When everything is smoothy groovy, these poof friends are easily found, but they go “poof” when things get shaky. The “puff friends” are the ones that talk a lot, but lack substance, don’t follow through & neglect to keep their word. They huff & puff, but there’s little, of anything tangible to their puff.
The best friends are the proof friends. These are the ones who prove, with regularity, that they’re in the trenches with you, even in the muck & they don’t evaporate.
We all have people in our lives who are poof, puff & proof friends. But the real issue is what kind of friend are you? When I was growing up, the friend advice my parents always gave me was to be the kind of friend whom I wanted. So let’s endeavor to be the proof friend & not the puff. Or poof friend 🙂
And let’s keep Proverbs 18:24 front & center in our thinking: “There are “friends” who destroy each other,
but a real friend sticks closer than a brother.”
This morning, I had the most wonderful breakfast with a friend I’ve known for many years. We haven’t been able to catch up & have a deep conversation so this morning afforded the time & place for us to do just that. We shared with vulnerability about our struggles & weaknesses along with how Jesus has helped us along the journey. It’s been a long time since I’ve had such a rewarding conversation & this was absolutely a gift from God. This time was all the more beautiful because it came on the heels of a very busy & demanding weekend for me.
I’m very grateful that God supplies what we need, when we need it – even in ways that we don’t expect!!
“Time to get up,” I whispered gently to my very tired daughter this morning. Mornings tend to be a weakspot for her. So helping her to get moving & be strong in the morning is an ongoing challenge.
With that said, strength is the antidote to weakness, so how we can be strong is important for all of us, no matter our age, situation or season in life. Here’s a good example for for getting strong: David
Friends help us to be strong: in 1 Sam 23:16, it says that Jonathon encouraged / strengthened David in the Lord. Let’s remember to encourage our friends & let them encourage us! This helps us to be strong:)
Strengthen ourselves: in 1 Sam 30:6, it says that David strengthened himself in the Lord. In this chapter, David was really squashed to the wall & very discouraged, but he chose to find his strength & encouragement in the Lord.
Let’s lean into the Holy Spirit to gain strength & be encouraged :)Getting
Today, I was driving and having a God chat. We talked about some of my concerns and frustrations and I tried to not do all of the talking, but this is a tricky balance. Conversations that facilitate a deepening relationship go both ways – both parties listen and both talk, hopefully not at the same time. To get to know the other person in a relationship, we need to be present, attentive and available. In the same way, for the other person to get to know us, we need to be present, sincere and forthcoming.
We all have relationships where we play our cards really close to the vest – we don’t openly share about painful areas, hotspots or vulnerabilities. But if we are going to have a deepening relationship with God, then we need to put our cards on the table and equally listen, pay attention and value the feedback and input that God gives us, not only to solve problems but moreso for the purpose of connecting and attaching. God talk is a two-way street 🙂
Over the last few weeks, I have had some interesting conversations with various friends about different ways to improve relationships One such way is by doing things together – so today, my husband & I are going to buy a dishwasher. Of course we have different ways of approaching this project, but the point is that we work together to get something that will be reliable & helpful to our family for a reasonable price. I’ll keep you posted on how this adventure turns out ,)
Some other ways to help a relationship grow include:
trust: not only do we want to be able to trust the other person, but we, ourselves, must also be trustworthy
forgiveness – the deeper the friendship, the greater the quantity & deeper the quality of forgiveness; shallow friendships can often reflect limited forgiveness
time: listening, doing things together and other things / ways that require time
sacrifice: preferring the other person’s desires & needs over our own is a good way to not only grow a relationship, but to also grow as an individual
communication: honesty & diversity (through lots of different ways – written, non-verbal, dialogues, to name a few ideas)
affirmation: looking for creative ways to say, “you is kind, you is wise & you is important” is always important to grow relationships
common purpose: it’s important to understand that different relationships have different purposes (friendships can be for a reason, a season but only a few are for a lifetime)
Ultimately, I see my relationships as a means to express genuine love – letting God love through me. This is the goal in which I want to always be improving.
I was having coffee w a friend the other day & this lady walked into the coffee shop w some very loud shoes – her shoes were the 1st thing to catch anyone’s attention. Right away my friend commended to this lady on her super cool shoes, encouraging her that she looked cool wearing those shoes. I was really proud of my friend for being so encouraging & made a mental note to myself that I want to be that way, even if something isn’t my personal style or preference.
Here’s my line of thinking: our planet needs some encouragement because it seems to me that we are living in a time when there’s a fair amount of negativity. With this in mind, a great way to counter-act any general negativity is to be encouraging to people & even creatively encouraging. So here are just a few ideas you might consider & please feel free to leave more suggestions so we can all help each other 🙂
consider telling a co-worker that you think they’re an incredible person, without the intent of trying to get something from them ,)
wave & smile at your neighbor when you drive by them
look at the cashier & ask them if they’re having a nice day, with sincere interest
send a kind email to someone & thank them for who they are as a person (consider telling them what characteristic you like the most about them)
tell your mate that you think they’re great
let a friend, neighbor or co-worker know that you appreciate them with a quick text message
drop a note in the mail (snail mail) to let someone know that they are special to you
Those are just a few ideas, but the principle of being encouraging is super powerful, even though it may seem rather small 🙂