If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.
Read that again. It packs a lot of power in 16 rather simple words, doesn’t it? How often though do we find ourselves trying to go it alone. Trying to be strong. Trying to look like we have it all figured out. Or have it all together. Or know what the heck we’re doing. Or we tell ourselves we should have it all figured out or know what the heck we’re doing, because after all, we reason, we must be really messed up if we don’t have it all figured out or can’t go it alone or can’t put on the image of being strong.
Proverbs 17:17 says: A friend is always loyal, and a brother is born to help in time of need.
As I thought about this verse and others I found when searching God’s Word for what He has to say about friends and friendship, I concluded that a large issue with my misunderstanding of what friendship truly means was founded in my attempt to relegate it to a specific formula or method. This just doesn’t work though as life is all about seasons, it ebbs and it flows, we face mountaintops and valleys, and ultimately, we walk down many different paths and come to crossroads that shape who we are and lead us to different people on the way who are facing their own ebbs and flows, mountaintops and valleys and paths and crossroads as they walk this life out.
I truly believe if we’re in tune with God’s heart, we will see Him indeed direct our steps, and He ALLOWS us to cross paths with others for His GREATER GLORY. Rather than thinking of my friends with the titles I referenced in the first post, I began to reflect on their actions and how those truly reflected their heart and their care, concern and compassion for me. And I began to realize I don’t want to miss this! I don’t want to relegate these people to a specific title and miss out on the blessing of their friendship. It doesn’t really matter in the grand scheme how our paths crossed and in what context we met, because if God is directing our steps and we trust His sovereignty, then isn’t that where we want to be?
Regarding actions of my friends, I think of that text where my friend and I are PRAISING JESUS for HIS WORK in our connected lives. I can think of two very recent examples where God’s providence was revealed in ways that were impossible to assign to anything BUT GOD. It was that apparent. Words like confirmation, huge, blessing, validating, amazing, cherished, treasure were exchanged and God IS glorified. GOD IS GLORIFIED. GOD IS REFLECTED in us and through us. THAT IS BIG STUFF, FRIENDS.
Then I thought of a conversation not too long ago where a friend affirmed for me that my musings about being unequally yoked in terms of a friend isn’t always a bad thing, because after all God’s Word tells us to be IN the world and not of it. She gave me some wise advice as I proceed in that friendship and she shared about how she cultivates those friendships in a Christlike way that ultimately lets her light shine and reflects God at the same time.
Then I thought of a recent outing where I had a certain type of friend in mind when I put out a plea on FB, but as it turns out one of my friends that I had originally assigned a different title has the same heart cry I do for orphans and adoption. Not only did we both get to see a documentary we really longed to see, but we also spent some one-on-one time together. We had been trying to carve out a time together sans children, though we thoroughly enjoy a play date, amidst being stay-at-home Mommas to 9 beautiful children between us.
So as I have reflected on this and really allowed it to soak in my mind and more importantly my heart, I am choosing to NOT see people as titles or with labels attached. Rather, I am choosing to call them simply friend.
So no longer will I think of my friends as Bible study friend, my child’s therapist friend, homeschool tutorial friend, childhood friend, sorority sister friend, neighbor friend, church small-group friend, adoption agency friend, local adoptive moms group friend, older child adoption friend … rather I think simply MY FRIEND.
If I am doing and being what God’s Word says, then godly friendships will evolve over time if they are within His will. And if they’re not within His will, even if my heart breaks to think of that, how can I not still be joyful?
I asked myself these questions as I reflected and put pen to paper for this follow-up blog post:
- Who stops me at tutorial and says how are you doing in a way that says they really mean it and really want to know?
- Who sends that text when a loved one is dying, my children are about to undergo major surgeries, or I’ve posted that one of them is sick on FB?
- Who stood close by my side without judgment or any expectation of return through a trial facing my family that left me feeling utterly and helplessly alone and completely questioning if God even existed? And who still stands by my side knowing all she knows that has befallen our family and still without an ounce of judgement?
- Who loves me in spite of my actions, words or deeds that have hurt them before? Who has forgiven me for those actions, words, or deeds?
- Who tells me regularly “I’m praying for you” or something similar like “I am praying. How can I pray specifically?” (LORD, that is GOOD, godly stuff! Oh my heart!)
- Who is the one I feel led to send an email, FB PM, or text to or pick up the phone and call to share a heart cry and prayer request that exposes a deep desire and heart cry that makes no sense in earthly terms?
- Who encourages me, my children, and/or my family with their words or deeds?
- Who supports me when I’m most in need of that support for whatever the season or circumstance?
- Who LOVES my children without condition and shows that love in terms that are immeasurable in earthly measures? Who loves my children with her whole heart? (This one was so important as I delved deeper in this quest, because aside from God my family is my world.)
- Who loves me for WHO I AM not who they think I ought to be or maybe thought I was before they saw a whole lot more of the real me? Who sees through to my heart and loves the person on the inside rather than the image I might portray when I’m tucked safely inside my shell?
I could list more questions, but these are the ones I focused on most as I sorted this all out in my mind and heart over these last few weeks.
Really, it isn’t all that complicated. It doesn’t require an over-thinking. It doesn’t require dissecting the past. It doesn’t require harboring negative feelings that only harm and hinder. It doesn’t require a particular regimen of relationship. In other words, maybe we don’t see each other that often for the purpose of spending time together. Or maybe we can’t wait to see each other each week at tutorial and the hugs aren’t even thought out, because they are so natural and the conversation picks up right where we left off the week before. Or maybe we do find time on occasion to get out together for dinner, a movie or just to chat. Maybe those play dates aren’t just about our kids spending time together, but are also about us Mommas cultivating the seeds God has planted in our hearts for one another to walk this out together.
My point is there isn’t a secret formula. Or a prescription. Or a scientific process. There isn’t a RIGHT or necessarily a wrong way. What works with one friendship might not work for another. What works in this season of our mutual lives might not work a year from now. Only God knows and that really IS enough. Our Father, Who made us all, Who loves us all, Who leads those of us Who call Him Lord, Who sees our hearts, He is the One to lead us to cross paths with other Christ-followers for His greater purpose and His greater glory. Why would I want to miss that?!?!
So I will take one step at a time, and if, unfortunately, one step at a time requires a pause and then a restart, I will do that too. Since I follow the Lord and choose to believe He will direct my steps as He promises He would, I trust He knows my needs better than I know them myself. I love this verse I will end with below, because what a PROMISE this is from God! If we believe this promise truly, then how can we, how can I, not cherish the relationships the Lord has placed in my life and also trust He will grow them, nurture them, cultivate them in such a way that He is glorified, that He is manifested, that He is revealed, that He is worshipped, that He is proclaimed, that He is reflected out of that friendship.