One thing fellowship is all about is relationships. But what does it mean to be a good friend? We know a lot about the relationship of marriage…or at least we think we do. Over the life of our marriages however, we seem to learn more and more about that relationship!
We can learn about marriage from books up to a point, but in reality each marriage is unique. Because the two people that make up your marriage are unique, each marriage will look different. Of course, there are some things that are to be expected in any marriage, but there is also a lot of variation from one marriage to another because of the differences in the two people who make it up.
INTENTIONAL FRIENDSHIPS: A WAY TO ENCOURAGE
When it comes to friendships, they seem so “easy.” We tend to fall into them with people with whom we have a lot in common. They tend to be with people of the same sex…so we don’t have the sexual difference.
But what about intentional friendships? Friendships with someone with whom we want to minister love? Friendship with an older/younger woman with whom we aren’t sure we have a lot in common at first? Friendships with a person we see who seems new and lonely?
INTENTIONAL FRIENDSHIPS: A WAY TO REACH BEYOND YOURSELF
I can tell you from experience, that these will be some of the best friendships of your life! Why? I can’t give you a comprehensive list, but I can give you some reasons. One of the main reasons is that the friendship is not all about you! That sounds counterintuitive, but it is true. It takes the pressure off of you…to be cute, to be accepted, to fit in…whatever. Because with this friendship you are reaching out to someone else because of their need. But in the process, you will find other areas of commonality. You will find other interests that you might never have known about.
You are trying to make them comfortable. You are spending your energy helping them get comfortable and meet other people. You are trying to get to know them and what makes them special so you can help them get to know others with whom they will be comfortable as well, others that have similar interests and common life experiences.
In the process, you will find that you will be getting to know each other well and will often become good friends. Sometimes they will become friends with other people you introduced them to, but it won’t be because they don’t like you. They just found others with whom they fit better. They will appreciate the part you played in their life.
REACHING ACROSS AGE BARRIERS
When it comes to making friends outside of your age group, your life will be enriched. One aspect of doing that will include getting to know a new generation and their perspective. Whether they are younger or older it can only add texture to your life.
I have found that getting to know younger women has given me an appreciation of some of the challenges their generation faces. It reminds me of the days when my family was young. I remember the panic some days, the chaos (often) and craziness of life! Some days I wasn’t sure if I would make it to the end of the day with my wits about me.
But I didn’t have to contend with all the electronic devices they have to deal with. I deal with them now, now that my family is grown. But I’m not certain I would have been as good a mother as I was…and I wasn’t stunning, with all those distractions. While it’s true we didn’t have cell phones or smart phones, to say nothing of personal computers, we also didn’t have those distractions with information constantly coming at us. The overload would have done me in on top of the overload from the noise, questions and demands of the kids. Truly, I don’t know how you all do it!
MY RECENT VISIT TO A YOUNGER MOM FRIEND
I was reminded of that recently when I went down to Mississippi to help a friend paint some of her rooms. She has 4 kids aged 4-9! Her husband was going to be out of town for the week. I had 2 days of painting to give + travel time.
We painted like crazy women for 2 days. We got a LOT done. Not as much as we had hoped, but a LOT! She cared for the interruptions of the kids while I focused on painting with the roller. She did the cutting in. Of course, we talked and talked…and TALKED!
The children have grown since I last knew them so it was fun to see how their personalities have grown too.
We have been good friends for awhile…since we both lived in Texas. We have shared our lives since then. We caught up on recent developments as well. She asked a lot of questions as usual. I answered. Often with follow-up answers the next day. I think it was enriching for both of us.
FRIENDSHIP AMONG YOUNGER WOMEN IS OFTEN CONSIDERED A LUXURY
The interesting thing was the reaction of her friends. She is active in a large, wonderful church there. Her friends were so surprised that she had a friend who would travel that far to help her paint her house and to use her words, “speak into her life.” One friend said, “I don’t have a friend like that.”
I think that is so sad. These are Christian women who are active in a wonderful church.
- Some reasons can be overinvolvement in programs rather than with people.
- An appearance that I have it all “together” when I don’t have any friends or that I don’t need anyone and may even rebuff attempts others make to befriend me when I truly need help.
- An unwillingness to reach out to others in friendship especially if it means altering my “to do” list for the day. The feeling that in order to be a good Christian, I must have it all together!
- Forgetting that people are always more important than things, including to do lists…always!
- But sometimes, it is just inexperience. When a person has never known this kind of friendship, how can they know what they are missing?
This list isn’t exhaustive, but you may find yourself here.
What kind of friend are you?
Certainly not a perfect one. I have failed often in this department myself this past year. I have let friends down. This is a place where we will fail plenty. But we need to continue to move in the direction that GOD calls us to: relationship with Him that shows itself in giving relationships with others.
How can you show the love of Christ to your friends, Christian or not, around you?
What do you need to do to accept the help offered to you by those who see you need it? I have had times when I had to swallow my pride and accept the help offered as GOD’s provision.
I don’t know what the problem is for you.
photo 1: I left the photo in with lipstick on my teeth since there wasn’t time for Dominique to put on her makeup. Is that a fair trade? This was after 2 days of painting…just before I went home!
photo 2: These are Dominique’s kids. They particularly wanted to get a photo of themselves with their goofy look:)