It seems to me that we all need friends in lots of different ways. Thankfully, I’m experiencing God’s provisions in this area, well beyond what I deserve. One of the things I’ve been noticing lately is that God provides all different kinds of friends – friends who help me in areas where I’m very inadequate, friends who receive from God through our relationship, friends who keep things lite ( because I can tend to get too intense), friends who help me to be practical & I help them to be less practical ,) and lots more.
So here’s my thinking: it seems to me that God wants us to experience fellowship with God in LOTS of different ways, particularly through our various relationships & friendships. With this in mind, here are a few essential ingredients for some rich fellowship with God through our various friendships:
*be opulent with forgiveness, understanding that we experience God’s forgiveness toward us far more than we realize 🙂
*be gentle & patient: relationships grow & flourish well in an atmosphere of patience & gentleness
*listen & be present: answers & advice can often be less important than presence
*genuine love: the purest context to experience & get to know God
On the whole, I believe that God has designed us to be social & for people to be important in our lives. And in my life, I see that God has put lots of different kinds of friends & people in my life. For me, its important to have a diversity of friends & not just try to have everything wrapped up into one person or only a few. Here are a few of the diverse friendships that I have:
- friends with whom I share recipes,
- friends that I see movies with,
- friends with whom I talk about good books,
- friends where our kids have similar ages so we hang out when our kids play together
- friends with whom we share about God at very deep & transparent levels
- friends that enjoy travel adventures
- friends that challenge my political thoughts, even though I have very few ,)
Let’s be sure to celebrate & honor the various friendships in our lives & let God unfold their purposes over time. Being & having friends is important! 😀
I have some really fun friends in my life & enjoy them lots & lots! Truly, I’m thankful for the various friendships that I have in lots of different contexts. But something that’s important to me is that I want to be sure that I add value to the various relationships that I have. I don’t want them to be one-way streets, where I’m always receiving & not reciprocating.
This morning I was thinking about this idea of reciprocity as it relates to God & I was thinking about how I could be value added to God in my relationship with Him. After some reflection, it seems to me that one of the best ways that I can add value to my relationship w God is by loving others well, being concerned about what’s important to Him & by looking for ways to improve the situations that break His heart. For me, this is one of the reasons I’m so devoted to saving Moses 🙂
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’ve been thinking a lot, lately about wisdom. In fact, I’ve been trying out that “Read a Proverb a Day” plan (since there are 31 chapters in Proverbs, it makes it easy) & I’m really liking it! I’m getting ready to start my 3rd time around & its been really helpful. Here are a few quickie take-aways that seem to be sticking to my ribs of late:
- timing reveals a lot about a person’s level of wisdom or foolishness
- doing the “right thing”, while not easy, is wise
- anger can sabotage wisdom
- wise friends can also be scratchy but can also make us more sharp
- wisdom listens more than it talks
- wisdom is priceless
When I was growing up, I used to complain to my parents about not having any friends – it was partly true, because I wasn’t a very friendly person. Nevertheless, my parents would always encourage me that I had lots of friends & they were always very affirming on this topic. Here are some other pearls of wisdom they taught me in relation to friendships:
- diversity is good – its good to have lots of different kinds of friends: smart, funny, healthy, beautiful, chubby, witty, deep, seasonal, insightful, superficial, . . . . . Diversity is the spice of life!
- in order to have friends, we must be friendly: smile, be forgiving, generous, seeking to understand
- be more concerned about being interested rather than interesting: listening can be a timeless gift
- a friendship isn’t merely about what you can get out of the relationship, but also what you can give
- don’t be disappointed because someone is unable to give something you want in a friendship – maybe they don’t have that skill set or ability, just like you also have some shortcomings
- give the benefit of the doubt: don’t assign malicious intent
- no one person can be your everything in life – this expectation is unhealthy & ultimately idolatrous
- be the friend you would like to have 🙂
- forgive, forgive, forgive & be prepared to continue forgiving
The attraction distraction is a fun play on words & my mind can go all kinds of fanciful directions with these words. Nonetheless, I’m thinking about these 2 words as they relate to people in our lives & connecting with Jesus. If I’m gut level honest with you about myself, you’ll discover that I’m keenly passionate about knowing Christ. For me, knowing Christ is the central “attraction” throughout my life, in all of its different contexts. With this in mind, the relationships that go through my life (some permanent & others being more temporary) can be a distraction or an enhancement to this attraction. Likewise, I can either distract people from Jesus or possibly make Jesus attractive by my interactions with others.
To attract or distract all depends on your goal. What are you trying to achieve? When you are clear about the goals in your life, then you can figure out the attraction & distraction challenges. May God give you the wisdom & focus you need for this day 🙂
Here’s a quickie thought about our relationships – be gentle. I’m reminded to be gentle on many occasions – most frequently when someone says something to me that is sharp or insensitive. When this happens, I find that it’s most helpful to give others the benefit of the doubt & not automatically assume that they’re trying to hurt me or have malicious intents. I honestly think that if others understood some of our sensitivities, they probably wouldn’t say some of the things that we find to be hurtful. So with this in mind, I want to be a gentle person & tread lightly. I figure that if I’ll be gentle, others won’t find the need to forgive me as frequently and perhaps this is a practical way to express Jesus’ love.
I’m also reminded that Jesus wants me to be gentle with myself – to intentionally lose the lists of failures, shame & shortcomings, since these items have already received His forgiveness. I can also be gentle with myself by being less impatient with my maturation.
Gentle words, gentle actions, gentle thoughts, . . . . . be gentle 🙂
i awakened this morning to have a rich experience w God’s love. He expresses His love to us in many different ways & forms – consider the beauty of a sunrise, the glories of Spring & new life, the crisp morning air that wakens your senses (ears, nose, eyes) to His abundant creation – all expressions of His love for you. How about this – God expresses the variations of His love for you in the contexts of various relationships you have: friendships, family, kids, parents, spouse, etc. Even more cool than that, if you are missing any of these contexts (spouse, parent, etc), He still invites you to experience His love in this context through His Word & presence in your life. I’m simply astounded by the immensity & intensity of God’s love. I pray that you would experience just a small taste of His love for you through this blog to entice you to be still for more. 🙂