Friday, March 28, 2014

Friendship Part 2- Keepin' It Real

I recently read a story about a woman who was in charge of a Sunday school program at a small, rural church. She had been in the position for several years and under her direction, the Sunday school had grown a great deal. This woman drove a big truck and piled as many kids in it as she could every Sunday morning. One Sunday evening her truck was parked in the parking lot of the church and one of the church deacons walked past the truck and smelled something really off. He stopped at her truck and began to look around thinking something might be leaking. What he saw in the bed of the truck shocked him! Empty beer cans, and lots of them! He couldn’t believe what he saw there and went immediately to the pastor and said she must be removed from her position as she was obviously an alcoholic. When in fact she had been collecting cans for the Sunday school fund raiser. She had asked the local bar owners if they would be willing to save their cans so they could turn them in for money.

So far we have been talking about judging women in a negative way.

But what about the women who we judge to "have it all together"? Women who look like they have it all together, but are falling apart on the inside? Often, those women believe that if people really knew who they were, they would not be liked or accepted. There are many women who are hiding behind the I’ve Got It All Together mask at all times.

What is the IGIAT mask? The mask we hide behind so that we do not have to reveal anything about ourselves. Don’t get me wrong—it is okay to walk in a positive light and with a positive attitude. God wants us there. I’m talking about being afraid to let people in, to let them know that we need prayer, have issues with our children or our marriage jobs, etc.
Hiding behind this mask is harmful to us, but it is also very harmful to others. When other women see us and assume that all is perfect, they may feel inferior.
Women need women!
You may have heard the saying "Friends for a season, friends for a reason, friends for a lifetime". Over the past year, I have been contemplating the meaning of this statement. If you are like me, you’d like to keep all of your friends as friends….forever. But that isn’t the life cycle of friendship.

Some friends are here for a season…when our children are toddlers, in grade school, in college or when we become empty nesters. Some friends are here for a reason…to encourage, support, listen, or to help us through the tough times. Some friends are here for a lifetime.If we are very, very lucky we will have friends who are friendships that span our lifetime. Those are the women who are like family. They stand by us through all of life’s twists and turns, and we do the same for them. We may lose touch with them for a time, but then we simply pick up where we left off in our relationship.

The lifecycle of friendship begins because we have common interests and goals. Over time, it deepens and we find ourselves confiding our dreams, disappointments, and challenges. Sharing fun times and making memories is a part of this stage.
Friendships end for all kinds of reasons. A friendship can end abruptly if there is a major disagreement or argument. I find the more common reason is they simply fizzle out. This can be because life takes us in different directions, or more often, a friendship ends because we don’t nurture it.

So what does it mean to nurture a friendship? It means that we reach out and make an effort to stay connected. Social media is great, but Facebook isn’t enough to keep a friendship strong! Making time for the other person is what will solidify your relationship. Sharing a cup of coffee, going to lunch, or exercising together are just a few ways to connect. Get creative! What will work for both of you in your current season of life?

By placing an importance on your friendships, and putting out the effort to keep them alive, you may find more friends for a lifetime than you ever imagined. God does not want us to go through this life without friends as John 15:12-15 states: "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."
We all need friends and these women from my example may be longing for a loyal, non-judgmental woman friend who will be there for them. A woman they can share their challenges and victories with. A woman who will pray for them.

Ladies …we need each other!
Someone asked Jesus, "Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?" Jesus answered that the law and the prophets hang on two commandments: loving God and loving your neighbor.
What does relationship look like in 2014?
Let’s talk about social media and communication. I am all for the internet! God called me to base my ministry through the internet. I teach 3 times per week on the internet, I counsel on the internet, I proclaim my faith on the internet and I make friends through the internet.

BUT, we were meant for more than just virtual friendships. Technology is great, and necessary, but electronic communication is a poor substitute for true face-to-face relationships. Although technology can make our lives more convenient, counterfeit connections are one-dimensional. We can have "friends" on Facebook, email pen pals, chat room buddies, and text messaging conversations—but none of it is real communication. The words are there, but the deeper meaning and intimacy are lost. It really is just an exchange of information.

Jesus was all about connecting with real people. I recently read this:

What if Jesus would have "Facebooked" the Woman at the Well? She'd have checked her email and found: "Woman at the Well: Jesus has written on your wall." Her wall might say, "Heard you were at the well today. If you ask me, I will give you living water." It kind of loses its meaning. When we read the story in John 4, it was clear that a big part of Jesus' impact was the fact that he was sitting in public talking to: (1) a woman, and (2) a Samaritan. He was risking being seen with her, and he was taking time from his busy life to sit and talk with her. Jesus' life was about people—up close and personal—genuine connection, not counterfeit connection. Technology is a great thing, but overusing it can rob us of real relationships!


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