Monday, June 23, 2014

Discardable.


There was a time in my life, before I met Jesus, when I could simply discard a relationship as quickly as I had made it. It was easy.

I didn't trust people in the first place so I never gave my true self to anyone relationship-wise. My relationships were shallow ... superficial.

If I could keep them that way, then it was so easy to kick those people to the curb when they did something I didn't like or I disapproved of or when they wore out their welcome in my life.

When you keep people at arms length, you can take a step back easily. But, when you embrace people, it's much harder to let go.

Once I met Jesus, it was difficult to continue my view of people and relationships as being temporary and discardable. I had a hard time coming to grips with the fact that God wanted me to have relationships with people. And, not just relationships, but real friendships.

Now, as a woman, that can get tricky and hard because, as we all know, women are complicated. In one moment, you can celebrate friendship and relationship, but in the next question if you're even friends anymore. Drama.

I didn't even have a desire for lots of friendships in my life, even after I became a Christ-follower. So, I didn't. I was fine with it. I mean ... I could barely come up with four friends to be bridesmaids in my wedding. I had a couple ... two that were good friends from the get-go, and one that backed out, causing me to find a fill-in, and then there was a groomsman's wife. Yeah. Pitiful.

So, no joke. I just didn't have a whole lot of friends nor the desire to have more than the two I had. Then, I got busy. I got married, moved away, was in college, and started having babies anyway.

I also had a couple of difficult friendships, which then turned me off to the whole idea. And, these friendships caused me to revert back to the arms-length friendship idea.

But ... God began to work in my life in this area and my eyes were opened to the importance of friendship, not only in my life, but that my friendship could also be important in the life of someone else. I began to think that if I was feeling this way, there must be some other girls who felt the same.

About eight years ago, God impressed on me the need for friendship in my life. Real friendship. Not superficial junk. Ain't nobody got time for that!

So, I prayed.

But, I didn't stop there. I put a plan into action. I invited girls to a Bible study.

That's it.

The group changed over the years. Girls left the group and new girls came into the group.

But, one thing remained: Friendship.

One of the saddest parts about leaving my job months ago was realizing that this group that started so many years ago would not continue. It was something I'd have to leave behind and then just hope that our friendship would remain strong.

I've come to realize that these relationships are too important and I've invested too much to just discard them. So, what do we do? We try to make it work. We set up lunches, dinners, movie nights, birthday celebrations, whatever we can.

For true friendship to last the long haul, you have to be intentional about it.

Our pastor preached a great message this past weekend about this very subject. He said, "The greatest form of discipleship is friendship." It hit me hard. So true!

Who else will we share our lives, thoughts, struggles, fears, happiness with other than those whom we have real relationships with? Our friends are the ones who are and should be there for us throughout life's seasons, good and bad.

Sometimes we feel like we're going to burden a friend by letting them in on the fact that we're having a hard time. How ridiculous is this! {insert Dionne Warwick song lyric here .... That's what friends are for ...}

There's no point in having friends if we're not going to share ourselves and lives with them. Then they ARE those shallow, superficial relationships. No thanks.

If I'm going to invest all my years in a relationship, it needs to be for real. I mean ... come on ... life is too busy and time-consuming to waste energy on that.

Once I prayed that prayer so many years ago, not only has God given me some really, close, fantastic friendships within that Bible study group, but He's gone above and beyond ... like He typically does ... and has blessed me with three times that amount of friendships.

And, when I say friendships ... I mean real, true friends ... more than I can imagine.

My desire is to be more intentional in these relationships. Trust me ... I know it's hard. I work a full-time job. I have a family who I spend lots of time with. I am super-involved in church. And ... the biggest roadblock .. yes, here it is ... I'M TIRED.

Yes, it's hard. Finding time to spend with anyone is hard, but I will be more intentional in these relationships that are so important to me. The alternative is walking away, letting them go and letting them die. This is not what God desires for any of us.

I thank God that He's blessed me with so many good friends. I'm thankful for the different roles that these friends play in my life. My desire is to be a better friend and for my relationships to go even deeper.

And, if God desires to bring more friends into my life, I will be open to it, and not believe that I have enough friends. What a dumb idea! There's no such thing as having enough friends. Who said that, anyway? Duh.

God desires for us to influence the world. We can't do that when we put a halt to the amount of relationships we're open to.

I encourage you to be open to ALL that God has for you, including more relationships, more friendships. And, most of all, not to discard those that you've invested so much in. Work it out. Life is messy, but some things are easily cleaned up.

Words of wisdom from Winnie the Pooh ...

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