Our friends may be like us or they may be totally different than us. When I look at my close friends today, none of our relationships are the same. Some need nurturing; some need to nurture me. Some give me advice; some I give advice to them. Some like to eat at Mexican restaurants; some like to chat in their homes. Some like to talk politics; some do not know a thing about politics. Some friends are around for a season; some are around for a lifetime. Diversity reigns in friendships – and it’s so much fun.
Over the years, I have had many different kinds of friends. Some have been there to laugh with me; others have been there to encourage me; and others have been there to pull me out of a pit! My friends are valued treasures. They each have had a purpose in my life even if only for a season. Each friendship has been distinctive and productive.My daughter is VERY social. I think she has around 1,800+ Facebook friends. When she had her third baby, I looked at her Facebook page and she had over 500 congratulations within 12 hours after the birth. That is incredible to me. I can tell you that she did NOT get her social energy from me. I am one of those people who usually have only a handful or two of good, solid friends at a time. I really can’t handle much more than that and be the type of friend I want to be (or should I say the type of friend God made me to be.)
Friends can be the biggest blessing ever. They are treasures to be valued. But, they can also be a huge disappointment if they stab you in the back or if they don’t fulfill their promises to you. But today, I want to talk about the kind of friends that love, nourish, and influence us for the better. Those are the friends I am most grateful for and those friends are whom I want to honor today in this blog.A question I hear expressed over and over again is, “How should friends treat each other?” I want my friends to be gut-wrenching honest and respectful with me. I want my close circle of friends to cheer me up, to minister to me, to build me up, and to accept me for who I am – the good, bad, and the ugly. I, in turn, hope I can be that same kind of friend to them. The most hurtful thing I have experienced with friends, or should I say ‘so-called-friends’ is when I have found out they have betrayed a confidence and/or gossiped about me. Some of you know how painful that can be. It’s not nice.
On Pinterest, I found this quote by Ed Cunningham. On the post he says, “Friends are those rare people who ask how we are and then wait to hear the answer.” How true is that? With casual acquaintances we expect to say, “Hi, how are you?” anticipating the common answer as "I'm fine.” But, with our friends, we want more than the “I’m fine” response. We enjoy listening to them, learning about their life, and loving them.Our friends shape our lives. They help us make the right choices. They will pray for us. They will support us in our anguish. And they know when to give us breathing room. Social media friends are nice for a little chat every once in a while, but face-to-face communication is best for deep friendships. I love my ‘SHOW AND TELL’ friends. Those are my friends I can stuff my purse with grandchildren pictures, my newest lipstick, my ‘not so good’ sewing attempt, and just share them. It is through this sharing that they will learn what made me who I am today. And, I love it when my friends turn around and share their “deep moments” with me, like perusing their wedding album, showing me their garden, or taking me to their favorite hangout.
The Bible talks of many friendships. God and Abraham were friends. Abraham trusted God to lead him in the right direction. Jonathan and David had a deep friendship that started in their youth. Even though they had parted due to necessity, their love for each other and their immediate family remained strong until death and even after. Ruth and Naomi were brought together through Naomi’s marriage to Ruth’s son. When Naomi’s husband died, their friendship continued and their friendship brought peace, joy, and contentment to each other. Then, there is Peter and Jesus. Peter stood by Jesus until his death. Even though Peter had denied Jesus, their relationship reconciled and continued. You might find yourself in the midst of one of these kinds of friendships right now. If so, be grateful - they are God's gift to you.Unfortunately, some people do not have many or any friends. This type of loneliness is tragic. Many times loneliness engulfs someone while they are living or working around multitudes of people. When I first moved from St. Louis to Houston, I struggled with loneliness. Sure, I met people at work, but they were casual acquaintances. I remember for years not having even one person that I knew well enough to call up on the phone to talk to. Even being a church member was not meeting my “friendship quota.” Friends take time and between working a full time job and having a body that tired that I required a daily nap, I could not make friends. I just was doing all I could to get through the day juggling my job, the kid’s school activities, and my much needed daily siestas. Occasionally, a nice long phone call or a random chat would meet my need, but it was not too long until, I was feeling lonely again craving what I could not give, but still I longed to have.
In 2012, I retired from my job. I suddenly found myself with time to make some friends. I knew that close friendships take time to cultivate. I started praying for the Lord to show me who would meet my “friend need.” I realized I had to create time and be the initiator of “friend time” – sort of like how young moms plan play dates for their children. I needed to make adult play dates. I decided to invite people out to lunch just so we could chat and get to know each other. Unbelievably, I now have the reputation of having a "LUNCH MINISTRY" meaning I go out to lunch and get to know people. While I can’t say that everyone I reached out to reached back, but those who did usually became my good friends. I have not obtained thousands of friends, but I do have some very close friends that are there for me no matter what. But, it took time and effort on my part.As I have mentioned, my relationships with my friends are all different. Most of these friends and I have a spiritual connection; we talk about God and spiritual matters also.
Below is the first word that came to mind when I was thinking of my friends. Their names have been changed, but just look for their diversity.
Gail – What fun we have laughing!Penelope – A good political discussion gets our minds moving.
Sheila – Oh boy, we share pictures of our kids and grandchildren when we are together.
Kris – In the old days, ice-skating together was cool.
Betty – When I need encouragement, Betty is always there.
Bobbie – I listen. Bobbie listens. We learn from each other.
Debra – A deep chat on books, publishers, and business can nourish us both.
Jolie – Crazy. Oh crazy Jolie. We are so different but we can act crazy together.
Andrea – Fashion, purses, shoes, shopping – that is our link.
Wilemenia – It never fails. We go and eat Mexican Food! We love it.
If you find yourself lacking in friendship, you most likely will have to make the first step. Invite someone to breakfast, lunch, dinner, or anywhere that suits your fancy - somewhere where you can converse and get to know one another! Understand that not everyone you desire to be your friend will want to be yours. They may be overloaded with other responsibilities or life issues, so do not allow your feelings to be hurt. Each attempt to cultivate a friendship is one step closer than you were before. I have been in positions where I have inwardly though that I could never be friends with so-and-so. And guess what God did? He made some of them my very best friends. Show yourself friendly, be interested in those you encounter, and keep praying.
My friendship ramblings could go on, but I will stop now so you can spend a little time meditating about friends you have had, friends you have now, and friends you will have in the future. Sometimes you end up with a weed (a bad choice of a friend) and you need to walk away. Other times you may end up with a big ‘ol pink Gerber daisy type friend to laugh and share your life journey with. Best wishes all!Bible Verses:
And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them.
Luke 6:31 ESV
Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor.Romans 12:10 ESV
A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.Proverbs 17:17
Prayer:Lord, thank you so much for the friendships you have allowed me to have and those I have right now. Allow me to be the kind of friend that will honor you and your Word. Let me recognize and reach out to people who need a friend. Let me love others as I honor You and Your Word. In Jesus’ Name. Amen
Comments are welcome.
Awaken Me: A Devotional Prayer Journal (ISBN 978-1-4627-2578-6)
God, It's Me: 181 Days for Young Adults to Become Passionate about Prayer and Bible Study (ISBN 978-1-4627-3821-2)