Thursday, April 26, 2012

Reflections - Friendship

"Because friends are friends forever, if the Lord's the Lord of them..."

This song has been cycling through my head on repeat this week as I prepared for this post, and so I just had to annoy bless you with it, too.  I loved this song more than I can tell you back in middle school!

But anyhoo... this week's topic is- you guessed it- friends!  The topic comes from this blog post by Lisa TerKeurst, so you might want to check that out before you read on.  I easily get sucked into blogs and I have definitely added this one to my favorites list.  If you did not read it, the cliff's notes version of it is that during a conversation with her middle-school daughter, she was in awe of the child's wisdom when she said that all friends are a package deal and you just have to take the good with the bad.  So true, right?  So how does this apply to my life?

This topic is perfect this week, because we're going through a series called "Baggage" this week at TurningPoint Church.  This week's topic is emotional baggage, and quite frankly, most of the time it is people that become our emotional baggage.  Friends can either elevate us to become better people, but they can also drag us down with them.  And sometimes, when we get to a healthy place in our own lives, we end up dragging this friend behind us, like a heavy load of baggage, because we just can't sever ties.  And sometimes doing just that is necessary.

When I started this post, I really thought that I was going to end up focusing on the positive side of friendship, but as I reflected on my thoughts, it went the other way.  You see, I feel like there is a season for most friendships... not every friendship since several stand the test of time and will always be in your life (love those, don't you?), but others are there during a particular time in your life and come to an end.  They are there to teach you something (good or bad), celebrate something with you, or get you through something.  But then, as hard as it may be, that season ends and you move on.  Or they do.  Sometimes it's mutual and sometimes it's not, but it's a completely natural and healthy process.  In this day and age we generally do end up "keeping in touch" by peeking into one another's lives via Facebook or some other social media, but we don't have a relationship.  I can think back on my life and think of several of these instances, but one in particular reminds me of this:

When Josh and I first met we went through a bit of a rough patch within our circle of friends.  I'm not going to delve the details, but it was a time of transition for both of us and a lot of circumstances in our lives were changing, completely beyond our control.  And during this time, it caused a bit of a divide amongst our friends and people basically picked sides.  Some people really proved their love for us by being willing to hear both sides of the story and even though they did not fully agree with one or the other, they stuck by us.  They were willing to tell us that seeing us through the situation was more important than fully understanding the whole story.  Others, well, didn't even give us the time of day.  I am the type of person who truly values relationships, hanging onto them for far too long sometimes (even to an unhealthy level) and I really struggled with this.  I so desperately like to be liked, which is a dangerous character trait sometimes, and any time a friendship ends I mourn the loss, even if it's better that I let it go.  In this case, we did lose a friend over this because we felt like he or she turned their back on us, and some of the group that stayed in tact urged us to make up.  What many people did not understand is while we had forgiven this person, we were not in a place to be in relationship anymore.  There was too much hurt and we ended up realizing that some of our values did not line up.  I'm not saying that my values are the end-all-be-all of what is right, but at that time, we felt like this person would end up being our baggage, and we had enough to deal with in this mess on our own.  The Bible teaches a lot on forgiveness, but nowhere in there will you hear "Forgive and Forget."  Nope, that's made up.  And quite frankly, it's impossible.  Only God can "Forgive and Forget."  Ask Him for forgiveness and we're washed white as snow.  But with people?  Yeah, we always remember, and in this case we decided as a couple that it was best to forgive and move on.  It does not make the fun times we had together any less fun now.  It does not make us appreciate that season of our friendship any less.  But there were things we felt that needed to change in that individual's life, and we were not in the place to help make that happen.  I think in this case, there was too much baggage on both sides, and we would have dragged each other down... it would have been unhealthy for both of us and that season came to an end.

Like I said, through it all, some of our friends stuck with us and our friendships even grew stronger (and still continue to grow) through it all.  They were willing to take our package deal- our good with our bad. And as we grew in relationship, we refined one another, always trying to make each other better.   Now that's true friendship, and a friend that I hope you have.  I hope you have someone who can look you in the face and tell you when they think you're screwing up.  It's not going to be fun to hear, but they're saying it because they love you.  And I hope that you can be that friend to someone else.  God made us to be messy... he did not make any of us perfect... but my hope is that you can discern which ones are truly worth keeping and which ones might be in your life for a season.

The Bible is chalk-full on wisdom about friendship (the good and the bad), and here are a few of my favorites worth knowing:

"If anyone causes one of these little ones—those who believe in me—to stumble, it would be better for them to have a large millstone hung around their neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea." -Matthew 18:6 (NIV)
Kim's Translation: Do not lead others astray or away from what is good and right in God's eyes.  On the flip side, do not allow others to lead you away from His teachings either.  

"Let love and faithfulness never leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart". -Proverbs 3:3 (NIV)
Kim's Translation: Keep those you love and who love you close to you.  Surround yourself with a protective wall of people who will always support you.

"As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another." -Proverbs 27:17 (NIV)
Kim's Translation: Be the iron for your friends.  Help one another "sharpen" each other, always making them better than how you found them.  True friends build each other up and grow together.

"Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces." -Matthew 7:6 (NIV)
Kim's Translation: Who we surround ourselves with is who we will slowly become.  Make sure your "tribe" is one worth being a part of.

I hope this all made sense today... my brain is elsewhere (as you can read about in yesterday's post) this week and my thoughts are all a jumbled mess.  Regardless, my challenge to you is to evaluate the friendships in your lives and really come to understand who those lifelong package-deal friends are and how you can continue to refine each other.  If a friendship is in a rocky place, evaluate whether or not it's worth continuing or if that particular season is over.  But most importantly, love everyone, no matter what their story.  This is the greatest commandment.

I love you all and I love YOUR stories.  Please share with us today... you can read Brittany's post here or link up below.  Next week's topic is below the link-up:

Risk... that's this week's topic (first Fearless and now Risk... what is God trying to tell me lately?  Sheesh!).  Let's read the story of Rahab together this week.  She might possibly be my favorite woman in the Bible and of all things, she was a prostitute!  Say what???  But her story is, well, amazing really.  God used her in BIG ways... a woman whom you'd least expect.  Her story is not elaborated as much as I would have liked, but can be found sprinkled throughout the first 6 chapters of Joshua in the Bible.  If you want to go one step further, I highly recommend downloading and reading Unashamed by Francine Rivers (although you don't have to... but it can be found here) or there is a pretty good free article that can be found here.  Her story is such a good one and shows that God can use anyone, regardless of their past or current situation, to do BIG things.  And then I want you to share what BIG things God is (or can) do through YOU!

And by the way, if you do have baggage you are dealing with, you should check out our current sermon series, which is posted online and can be found here.  It tackles addiction, depression, and all things that weigh us down.  My hubs has really been telling it like it is and blessing my socks off with this one, so I just wanted to share!

1 comment:

  1. I really enjoyed this post. I, too, have a hard time letting friendships go, even when they begin to feel like more "work" than "pleasure," if that makes sense. Thank you for the scripture. I need to revisit those! Love you.