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Friends

Six Questions to Diagnose Subtle Gossip

Six Questions to Diagnose Subtle Gossip

I was moving fast when my friend texted me her grievances against another. Company was due to arrive within the hour, and everything seemed to be happening at once. Between combining the liquid mixture for the corn muffins and texting my hubby about what I needed him to pick up from the store, I texted some hard truth to my friend in response to her message.

Then, with messy hands, I forwarded my response to three people who were aware of the situation and who were praying for my friend. I wrote, “Just sent this to our friend. Please pray. Her heart is so hard.” More

Dear College Grad . . .

Dear College Grad . . .

Congrats College Grad. You’ve worked so hard, and now commencement is over. I was cheering big as you walked across the stage, and I’m praying for you as you make this transition out of college. I remember well the conflicting emotions: mourning all the goodbyes, anticipating all the adventures just ahead.

Speaking of adventures just ahead, let’s talk about that, because if your experience is anything like mine, reality won’t quite meet your expectations. More

4 Unlikely Places to Find a Great Friend

4 Unlikely Places to Find a Great Friend

Where can you find good, wise friends when the pickins’ are slim?

After reading “Cool Friends . . . or Fool Friends?” last week, maybe you wondered, But if I’m choosy and don’t become besties with the “cool fool friends,” where will I find any good friends?

I’m so glad you asked. Here are four unlikely places to find a great friend:

That brother or sister of yours is handcrafted by God and, believe it or not, will one day probably be one of your best friends.

1) At home. I can hear you groaning, “But I hate my brother. He’s so annoying.” Trust me, I get it. Check out “My Annoying Younger Sister . . . and the Evil Ogre Sister” post for more on the hateful ways I treated my sister when we were growing up.

Here’s the thing, though. That brother or sister of yours is handcrafted by God and, believe it or not, will one day probably be one of your best friends.

In fact, did you know that the Bible says, “A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity” (Prov. 17:17)? Part of the reason God gave you siblings is so that you would have someone to walk through the peaks and valleys of life with.

High school and college friends will move far away, but you’ll keep seeing your family on birthdays and holidays. Why not begin to not just survive in the same house without killing them, but actually befriend them? (By the way, this applies to your parents as well as your siblings.)

2) At church. So they’re different from you, those people you sit next to Sunday after Sunday. Fact is, you’ll be spending a lot more than holidays and birthdays with them—you’ll be living with them forever. In Christ they’re family now—a tighter bond even than your own flesh-and-blood relatives.

Forever is a long time. Why not learn how to get along with them now? I wish I’d understood years ago that friends don’t have to be your age. Read “An Unlikely Friendship” to hear about a dear friend of mine who is thirty (yes, thirty) years older than me.

PS: Did you know you should seek out friends who are older than you to learn from (Titus 2:3–5)? Also, don’t forget that you’re an “older woman” to someone. Do you have any younger friends who can learn from your example?

3) In the Book. Proverbs 7:4 tells us to “Say to wisdom, ‘You are my sister,’ and call insight your intimate friend.” The Word of Truth (another name for the Bible) is chock full of wisdom. Consider it your dear friend, and it will lead you well. Are you spending time with and listening to this friend?

4) In God. Did you know that God has friends?! He called Abraham His friend (2 Chron. 20:7; Isa. 41:8), and He talked with Moses face to face, the way good friends talk (Ex. 33:11). Abraham and Moses weren’t His only friends. You can be His friend, too!

Believe in the One who sacrificed more at the cross for you than any friend ever will, and you will find Him to be the best friend you’ll ever know.

Psalm 25:14 says, “The friendship of the LORD is for those who fear him, and he makes known to them his covenant.” Jesus says, “You are my friends if you do what I command you” (John 15:14). And what does He command?

The secret is found in James 2:23: “‘Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness’—and he was called a friend of God.” Believe in the One who sacrificed more at the cross for you than any friend ever will, and you will find Him to be the best friend you’ll ever know. He will never leave you, never let you down, never stop loving you.

I’d love to hear from you. Which of these four friends are friends of yours?

4 Unlikely Places to Find a Great Friend” was originally posted on LiesYoungWomenBelieve.com

Are You Friends with a Fool?

Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm (Prov. 13:20).

I’ll never forget the fifth grade talent show. Samantha Gilman offered to turn the pages while I played a difficult classical piano piece. But I was ashamed to sit next to her. She was a Christian; she was a friend. But she wasn’t cool, and she didn’t fit in at school.

Truth was, I wasn’t all that cool, so I didn’t want to be associated with her. I wanted to become more cool, not less! So I told Samantha no, I’d be just fine.

And fine I was—for a few measures. But then, just as I was turning the page, my book crashed down on the keys, interrupting my performance with a jarring bang. So much for my cool factor.

The notes swam as I finished the rest of the piece through my tears. Why oh why hadn’t I gratefully accepted Samantha’s help? Oh yeah . . . I was concerned about how she would make me look.

Instead of girls like Samantha, I wanted the “cool” kids as friends. Only problem was, the “cool” kids were also what the Bible calls . . . “fools.” They didn’t fear God, and they weren’t looking out for my best interests.

One “friend” convinced me to date a non-Christian guy behind my parents’ backs. Another “cool fool” sneaked a pair of short shorts to school for me to wear without my parents knowing about it.

How to Spot a Cool Fool

Here are just a few ways you can spot a “cool fool.”

A cool fool:

Choosing Your Direction

Whether you realize it or not, your friends are taking you somewhere. They’re either leading you closer to God or further away from Him. So which direction are you headed? What do you look for in your friends?

Take it from me: Don’t think more highly of yourself than you should. Receive help from the “Samanthas” in your life, and steer clear of the cool fools.

 

Cool Friends . . . or Fool Friends?” was originally posted on LiesYoungWomenBelieve.com

Confessions of a Crummy Friend

Confessions of a Crummy Friend

I’m a crummy friend. I didn’t even realize it until last Friday, when Revive Our Hearts asked their employees to spend four hours on an exercise called the Personal Vitality Plan. We were to look at twelve areas of our life and evaluate what’s been going well, what’s been being neglected, and what some achievable steps are to replenish that area.

It didn’t take long to realize what was anemic. My relationships. Specifically, my friendships.

Until now, my idea of a good friend has been one whom I don’t have to spend a lot of time with, but when I do, we pick up right where we left off. But now I wonder if my definition of friendship has simply been a sorry excuse for neglect and selfishness on my part.

Oh, I haven’t painted it that way. I’ve chosen the busyness of “ministry” above friendships, investing more time in those who are “needy” while my iron-sharpening-iron friendships have simmered on the back burner.

As spiritual as that has seemed, I wonder if it has had more to do with pride and fear than love and compassion. There’s something self-inflating about being the one people always look to for help and answers. But since when are friendships one-sided?

When I look at Scripture I see friendship described with words like:

  • talking face to face (Ex. 33:11)
  • your friend who is as your own soul (Deut. 13:6)
  • loyalty (2 Sam 16:16)
  • kindness (Job 6:14)
  • trust (Ps. 41:9)
  • celebrating together (Luke 15:29)
  • grieving together (Ps. 35:14)

Now I see that I’ve been treating my closest friends as if they’re optional. But Jesus tells me in John 15:12–17 that friendship isn’t optional (and in the process, He calls me His friend!):

“This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you. . . . These things I command you, so that you will love one another.”

It took me less than the allotted four hours to realize that I was a crummy friend, so I spent the remaining time sending emails and setting up specific plans.

I asked one friend if she’d be willing to spend time together regularly. I don’t want to get spread so thin maintaining all kinds of relationships that no one really knows what’s going on deep in my heart. I asked her to meet with me regularly for several reasons:

  • She loves and cares about me.
  • She already knows me well and runs in my circles.
  • She’s not afraid to ask me hard questions. You know, the kind that make you squirm.

Once that was taken care of, I began making plans to choose people over pixels: scheduling a party for artists in April, inviting neighbors over to roast marshmallows in the fireplace before spring arrives in full vigor, exploring the possibility of a getaway with two other about-to-turn-thirty-year-olds.

Since Friday, I’ve attended a birthday party, two movie nights, and am headed to the Art Institute in Chicago with the girls in my family this Saturday. Oh, and I’m asking God to teach me how to be a good friend. To learn to love . . . and be loved.

How about you? What do you tend to value more than friendship? What’s your excuse for letting your friendships simmer on the back burner? And if you’re the one feeling undervalued in a friendship, how can you continue to extend grace and reach out to that busy friend?

Confessions of a Crummy Friend” was originally posted on TrueWoman.com.