May 30, 2012
The Treasure of Friendship
Ecclesiastes 4:12 (NIV) “Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.”
Friend to Friend
Friendship is the springboard to every other love and the foundation for every healthy relationship. It is a proven fact that lonely people live shorter lives than those who have healthy friendships. Even Jesus needed friends when He walked this earth as a man. In fact, He placed great value on relationships. The Bible tells us Jesus spent much of His time deepening the relationships with a few – not the crowd.
I love the story of an ingenious teenager who was tired of reading bedtime stories to his little sister. He decided to record several of her favorite stories on tape. When he presented the tape player and tape to his sister, he explained, “Now you can hear your stories any time you want. Isn't that great?” The little girl took one look at the machine, frowned and then replied, “No! It is not great! That thing does not have a lap!”
God created us to need each other. That truth is never more evident than when we are in pain or struggling with some crisis in life. One of the main factors leading to a two-year battle with clinical depression in my life was the absence of replenishing friendships. As I think back to that time, I am sure many women would have counted themselves as my friend when, in reality, they were simply acquaintances because that was all I would allow them to be. My pride kept me from admitting I wasn’t Superwoman and that I did need the help of others. My insecurity held me back from reaching out to new friends and cultivating old ones.
To admit my need of a friend seemed like a weakness instead of the precious gift God created it to be. I refused to take the risk of being hurt, rejected or misunderstood. I did not have time to invest in building intimate friendships and was too busy doing the work of God to be a friend. As a result, when the darkness hit, I felt isolated and alone. Friendship took on an entirely different meaning in my life from that point on. In fact, friends are a great source of strength and encouragement in my life today. Friends fast and pray for me, holding me accountable and confronting me when they see my priorities lining up in the wrong way. Friends make me stop and take time for fun. Friends have taught me to be transparent.
Have I been hurt along the way? Yes.
Have I been misunderstood? Yes.
Have the friendships been worth the price? Absolutely!
Roses are beautiful flowers. People who know me are aware of the fact that I can kill any plant known to mankind. I once had a neighbor who grew roses in every shade of pink, yellow and red. I often watched Joan work in her garden and eventually realized she never handled the roses without wearing long sleeves and thick gloves. The roses were beautiful, but their thorns were not and could certainly inflict a lot of pain. In fact, my neighbor always seemed to have cuts and scrapes on her hands and arms even with the long sleeves and gloves she wore. I once asked Joan why she continued to grow roses and jokingly suggested she might want to consider raising a less dangerous kind of flower. I will never forget her answer and the profound truth it held, “The beauty of the rose is worth the occasional wound it gives. I have learned to handle the roses with respect and in such a way that my wounds are few.” The same truth can be said of friendships.
The words of Jesus found in John 13:34-35, portray the perfect backdrop for God’s love. "And so I am giving a new commandment to you now--love each other just as much as I love you. Your strong love for each other will prove to the world that you are my disciples." Does the world know we are His disciples by the way we love and relate to each other?
Chad was a shy, quiet little boy. One day he came home and told his mother he'd like to make a valentine for everyone in his class. Her heart sank. "I wish he wouldn't do that!" she thought. She had watched the children when they walked home from school. Her Chad was always behind them. They laughed and hung on to each other and talked to each other, but Chad was never included. Still, she decided to go along with her son’s plan. She purchased the paper, glue and crayons, and for three whole weeks, night after night, Chad painstakingly made thirty-five valentines. Valentine's Day dawned, and Chad was frantic with excitement! He carefully placed the valentines in a bag, and bolted out the door.
His mom decided to bake his favorite cookies because she knew he would be disappointed when he came home from school. It hurt her to think he wouldn't get many valentines -- maybe none at all. That afternoon she had the cookies and milk on the table. Finally, when she heard their voices, she looked out the window to see the children laughing and having the best time. As usual, there was Chad in the rear but walking a little faster than usual.
She fully expected him to burst into tears as soon as he got inside. His arms were empty and when the door opened, she choked back tears as she said, "Honey, I have some warm cookies and milk for you” but he hardly heard her words. He just marched right on by, his face glowing, and all he could say was: "Not a one -- not a one." The mother’s heart sank. Then he added, "I didn't forget a one, not a single one!" When God is in control of our friendships and when we trust Him with those friendships, we will be a better friend, and we will have more true friends.
Lord, I praise You for the gift of friendship. Today I commit to investing more time in deepening the friendships You have given me. I want others to see You in the way I relate to my friends. I am willing to risk being hurt in order to be a better friend. I will look for needs that I can meet in the lives of my friends and be transparent in sharing my needs with them. Today, I choose to honor You in every friendship and trust You with each one.
In Jesus’ name,
Now it’s Your Turn
1 Peter 4:8 (NLT)“Most important of all, continue to show deep love for each other, for love covers a multitude of sins.”
"A friend is one who strengthens you with prayers, blesses you with love and encourages you with hope." Anonymous
More from the Girlfriends
Check out Mary’s E-Bible Study: I Need a Friend for ways to be a better friend and learn how to develop healthy friendships.
Need help learning how to live a life of power and purpose? Check out Mary’s weekly online Bible Study, How to Dress for Success and learn how to live a life of victory. Connect with Mary on Facebook or through email.
Click here to learn more about hosting a Girlfriends in God conference in your area or having one of the GiGs speak at your next women's event.
Originally published Wednesday, 30 May 2012.