Tag Archives: friendship

Better Than a New Car

Standard

Friends are like little gifts from God. Or not.

“Little gift” implies something small, inconsequential. A pack of stationary, a bracelet that is just your style, a $5 gift card to Starbucks – just enough for a pumpkin spiced latte. mmmm… Okay, maybe not entirely inconsequential. Little gifts are delightful, we’ll all agree.

But I’m talking about great big, knock-your-socks-off, here’s-a-key-go-look-in-the-driveway sized gifts. Presents with gigantic red bows!

When God created us to have relationships, he didn’t just mean man-and-wife or mother-and-baby, he gave us FRIENDS. Seriously, this was His idea! Oh so beautifully.

Your friends are beside you to laugh, cry, scream, tell you to change your shirt because you wear too many stripes, beg you not to leave because there is a snake in front of your house and you cannot move, send you a message to ask after your child. Those seemingly small, inconsequential acts that all add up. That’s friendship. That’s love.

Friendships are a reflection of the love we pour into others. You are drawn toward self-sacrificial acts for another just because she matters to you. It’s easy to pick up the phone and call a friend to ask if her interview went well, to make dinner for a friend when she isn’t feeling well and her husband is traveling, to drive hours just to share a meal with a friend. We do this, not out of obligation, but because we want to. We are created to love, created to have friendships.

And what a magnificent lesson our friendships are for us! We do for others, without thinking, only asking for their love in return. We don’t expect to be compensated in act. We pour out because our friends’ hearts matter to us. This act comes so naturally to us because we are made in the likeness of the perfect example: Jesus. He called you “friend” then laid down His life in sacrifice. He doesn’t guilt us into returning any favor or want us to write notes of thanks, just as we wouldn’t ask so much of a friend. He merely wants us to remain as close to Him as our hearts allow, to open our deepest wounds to His loving touch. And He is there. No guilt, no shame, not even a mention of the lettuce stuck between your teeth.

True friendship is non-judgmental, always cheering from the sidelines, making me laugh until my guts hurt, bringing me cups of nourishment and joy, enjoying sunny days and walking close in rainstorms, reminding me I am beautiful even when I’ve put on a few pounds, challenging me to live better because I deserve it, hugging holding cherishing uplifting on the darkest days. Each of my friends, my better-than-a-new-car friends, gives this to me. But none so much as my Truest Friend.

Thank you, good and gracious Lord for the gifts you have given. Friendships modeled after your unconditional LOVE for us and our desire to return the same to one another. You are so good. And so creative!

My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.
Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.
You are my friends if you do what I command. I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.
John 15:12-15

Advertisements

Routine of Togetherness

Standard

Summer is in full swing! Time to shake off those burdensome, tight schedules. Put on our bright, loose-fitting agenda-free days. School is out, kids’ activities are wrapping up for the season, obligations and meetings will finally give us that much needed break. Hooray, right?

As each last day arrived this year, I found myself feeling drained rather than rejuvenated. Not exhausted-drained. More like my cup was being emptied, like I was no longer able to replenish myself.

The first agenda item to go was my weekly Bible study. It started in September and ran throughout the school year. For two hours each week, I was able to fellowship with other women, pour into the scriptures, and make new, lasting friendships. Together we studied the book of John and learned more about the ministry and legacy of Jesus. The nursery attendants watched my little one grow from a itty baby into a mobile, playful toddler. Most Tuesdays this year, I was blessed to study alongside my sister-in-law, an extra treat before she moves overseas for two years.

In short order, Wednesday evenings also became free when our church children’s choir finished for the summer. On the drive home that fateful Wednesday, my daughter cried, sad that this weekly ritual ended too soon. When I reassured her we could connect with our friends all summer, she responded that she wouldn’t miss the socializing, group dinners, or play time so much. It was the opportunity to be with her friends, singing to God.

Next, the small prayer group from my daughter’s school held its last meeting. Whether I attended or not each month, I had relied on these mothers meeting regularly, powerfully praying over our children, their teachers, and one another’s families. The local chapter of MOPs (Mothers of Preschoolers) wrapped up the same week. Soon thereafter, we said goodbye to church Sunday School classes, our daughter’s weekly Bible class (AWANA), and other obligations.

Finally! We were free! Our schedule was clear and the summer lay before us open, wide open. Almost desolate. Very quickly I found myself longing for something more. I missed my friends, my Sisters, and the inspiration I drew from them.

My daughter, with her 6-year old wisdom, had understood early what would take me several weeks to grasp. When we no longer fellowship with one another, spend time in community, study God’s Word, or pray out loud, we become drained. Dry. Our souls become parched, a place weeds choke out the flowers of truth and living water stops flowing.

Without those school-year routines, how can you and I make time to be together? To encourage one another, like we do the other nine months of the year? To study, learn, and grow through each other’s wisdom? To pray for one another, pour out God’s blessings, speak His promises into each other’s lives?

Can we maintain the routine of togetherness, despite the lack of routine? Can we retain our community without being physically present?

I believe we can! If you’d like to join me, please let me know. I long for communion with you, my friends, my Family.
If you’re local to me, let’s get together a few times this summer to talk about what God has shown us this year, how He is moving in our lives. Let’s pray with one another. How about my house, Sunday evenings at 5:00?
If you’re not local, distance will not keep us apart! Perhaps we’ll read a book of the Bible together? We can email, talk, text, FaceTime, message, whatever.

Let’s find time to be together without the pressure of schedule, agenda, or obligation. Because no amount of summertime freedom is as liberating as simply being together in Christ’s love.

Our Bathing Suit Selves

Standard

Summer is here, the pool is open. Time to unveil our pasty-white skin and stand before one another in our public underwear and bras (a.k.a. bathing suits). Perfect time to make new friends, don’t ya think?

First weekend back, I bumped into a friend, a pool-friend. We haven’t yet crossed that line from being friends-at-a-place to being friends-who-get-together. First base friends. For the past few summers, I’ve observed this confident, graceful mother of four, introduced myself and chatted when the opportunity arose, all the while hoping we might become friends. More than pool-friends. Real friends.

You know the type. The Good Friend. A friend who shares more than kid-stories, a friend who gives honest opinions and tells you when something is stuck in your teeth, a friend who challenges you to be a better person. Once in a while, you meet someone and just know you were meant to be good friends. So you find opportunities be around her, tossing out the occasional lure for deeper conversation, asking questions about her children, her life, trying to find that connection, the link.

We stood by the edge of the pool, keeping tabs on our littles and feeling exposed in our tankinis and swim skirts. I glanced jealously at her long, lean legs and flat belly, wishing for all the world I had stuck to my diet better this year. Do I cross my arms to hide my post-baby belly (Little One is a year now; can I even blame it on her anymore?) or hang my arms limply at the side, hoping to elongate my pear? Ugh. This time I didn’t have much choice. With one arm in a sling following shoulder surgery, I tried to look as svelte as possible by keeping my legs very still, willing them not to jiggle.

She asked, in a concerned voice, what happened to my arm. I explained the short answer, said it’ll heal soon enough, and put on my best life-is-good smile. Then she asked something completely unexpected: “How are you really feeling?” Wait, what? Did she just start a Real Conversation? These don’t happen everyday, not with pool-friends! I dipped my toe in very cautiously and shared some of my recent struggles. Oh so bravely, she dove right in. With a smile on her face that belied the true hurt, she talked about this difficult past year with a child who doesn’t sleep and her own health concerns. I was crushed. I am so shallow. All the envy I felt towards her had been misdirected. No wonder she is so trim – her health dictates it. And perhaps a house with four children isn’t as full of joy, laughter, and ease as my jealous eyes believed.

I reached out my hand to her, just as she reached out to me. We talked about how perfect we all seem on the outside, our “Facebook lives.” (No, my real life skin does NOT look like my profile picture!) She mentioned her envy at the perfect children with perfect dresses and perfect hairbows sitting in the church pews. How defeated we become by everyone else’s apparent perfection. We thanked one another for being real and promised to catch up more. (Okay, truth. First I apologized for whining about my arm and sharing too much.) But my true self, my somewhat broken self wasn’t a burden to her; she appreciated my honesty, my sincerity. And I realized that’s the very quality that drew me to her (and likely to you, friend): sincerity.

If we would all shed our perfect veneers, let the wrinkles and scars show a bit, we would find connection, build real relationships based on our truest selves. Friendships to last a lifetime because they are imperfect, not photo-album-ready. Don’t worry, that doesn’t mean I’m going to cry in your coffee next time I see you or call you with every ache and pain (only my mom suffers that honor). But I do encourage beg you to answer honestly when I ask “How are you?” Because, unlike the expectation in our status-updating, bathing-suit-coverup world, I want to know how you are really doing, friend.

And in return, I promise not to hug you while wearing my damp tankini and sweaty sling, though that’s just what I wanted to do to my new Friend.