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.”
I’ve tried a few times today to write this blog & found myself relatively speechless – an unusual experience for sure ,)
Obviously, something happened because I’m writing now. Actually, nothing happened, except that I remembered Job’s friends. Whenever I read this book, I’m not just a little disappointed or pt off with his buddies. Their words seem harsh, condemning & altogether insensitive. Indeed, the last verse of Job 2 seems to be the high point of their contribution to consoling Job. In this verse it says, “Then they sat down on the ground with him for seven days and seven nights with no one speaking a word to him, for they saw that his pain was very great.”
Sometimes the best thing we can do for a friend who is suffering is just to quietly be present with them. Sometimes our words can be unhelpful, particularly when we don’t know what to say. Sometimes, silence is golden 🙂
When I was growing up, I was a junkie for all books that told you how to do stuff. I loved the books that would teach you how to cook various things, how to fix stuff & I even bought the VW repair & partsmanuals for my VW rabbit & golf. I still like things that teaches me how to do various stuff – YouTube videos, diy websites, books, etc.
The longer I live however, the more I learn that I don’t know how to do stuff. I don’t know how to navigate the teen years with my kids, I struggle to get the wife thing right, I’m challenged in my job to be a better leader, I wrestle with various friendship challenges & above all, I desperately want to do well in my daily walk with God. Alas, manuals, self-help books, websites, blogs, videos etc can only help with this stuff in limited amounts. I still come to the place, more than I like, when I don’t know how to do these things well or with agility.
From a broad perspective, it’s good that I don’t know how to do this stuff as well as I want. It’s good because I’m forced to rely on the Holy Spirit to teach & guide me & that my friends is the best thing we could have in our entire existence. We don’t know how because we have the ultimate teacher living with us everyday & available to teach us how 🙂
Job 2:13, “Then they sat down on the ground with him for seven days and seven nights with no one speaking a word to him, for they saw that his pain was very great.”
These friends that sat with Job in silence for 7 days were the same friends who were not very gentle in their words to him for many chapters throughout this book. Nonetheless, it gives me great pause to think that these guys travelled for several days to be with Job at the lowest point in his life. When they saw how despondent he was, they sat with him for 7days without saying anything.
Their behavior really challenges me to consider if I’m this kind of a friend who could sit quietly with a friend in their greatest time of suffering. This is the idea of keeping company with someone even when they aren’t very pleasant or enjoyable. It begs the question, “Am I a ‘fair-weather’ friend, or am I reliable in the skinny / thin times?” Consider Matt 26:38 & Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane.
It seems to me that we aren’t very comfortable sitting with someone when they’re suffering or struggling, but sometimes, keeping company with a friend in a hardship is a tangible expression of genuine love.
I like what Mother Teresa said, ““Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love.””
A few nights ago, one of my best friends & I, with our families, enjoyed a totally fantastic dinner together. We laughed, played, talked deeply, enjoyed God’s creation & reveled in a totally euphoric evening. This friend & I have known each other for a long time & we’ve shared some bumps along the way. I’m confident that the future will also have some possible hiccups for our friendship as well, but I’m growing to appreciate a few important lessons:
Forgiveness is an essential ingredient for being close to someone
Being steady is better than being dazzling
Compassion trumps smart
To know another person & let one’s self be known is very great adventure (Gal 4:9)
Keeping Jesus as my central & core relationship keeps me healthy
Maybe I’m a social anomaly, but from time to time, I have some struggles with friendships – thankfully, the older I get the less frequent these struggles seem to be, I think. Nevertheless, it seems to me that there are a few essential ingredients for healthy friendships (as with all things, the best source for the pure, organic & untainted source for these ingredients comes from cultivating a rich, deep & surrendered relationship with the Triune God):
extract of high quality forgiveness
a robust stick of faithfulness – substituting frequency with faithfulness doesn’t work 🙂
several “ouches” of humility – ounces are too small ,)
a generous helping of humor – mostly with ourselves
a pound of patience is certainly very helpful 🙂
an infinite supply of genuine love – only available from our Heavenly Father, don’t substitute generic love as it will ruin the recipe
I’m sure I’ve missed some key ingredients, so I’d LOVE to get your input & of course, please feel free to add some spices, flavoring for sweet or savory ,)
toast needs butter & that’s an axiom like salt & pepper, peanut butter & jelly. if you’ve got too much toast & not enough butter, then the toast isn’t as tastey – at least that’s my take for the present.
this last week has had too much toast & too little butter. i flew to dallas for a quickie trip & got to hang out w some very wonderful people – teen mania folk (Emmie & Katie) & Pastor Ben (from Calvary Church). we also had some good business meetings that were exciting. while doing all of that, including a healthy amount of girl scout cookie distribution (i’ve become a dealer for all girl scout cookie junkies – i’m your fix), i’ve been thinking LOTS! these are some things i’ve been chewing on:
benji going into kindergarten in the fall & what that means (he’s my last little person not in full-time school)
getting more girlscout cookies
the trinity & its distinct persons w their interactions w me – what this is all about
birthday parties the kids have been invited to
a new book for mom
friendships & un-friendships
trying to figure out chessmaster for benji
Shelley’s dad dying
kingdom & community dynamics
Good things to think about & some very high octane reflecting. Maybe next week will be a more palitable butter & toast ratio. Benji just woke up – time to party. 😉