Monday, November 18, 2013

a little bird told me ... {about friendship}

My apologies for not posting this on Saturday - technological difficulties and busy conference schedule. Thank you for grace.

Dear Robyn,
What makes for a great friend? I want to be a great friend, not just friendly. How do you choose friends for yourself? What is good to give and take? 

Dear Not Just Friendly,

What great questions! First of all, I want to say your desires are so valid - we all want to be givers in relationships, and not just takers. And choosing your friends is one of the most important decisions you can make. Let's take them one at a time, and see where we get, alright? {I'm writing mostly about friends of the feminine variety here, but just about all of the principles are valid across the board to guys too.}

Great friends are true and unconditional.  
   "A friend is always loyal" -Proverbs 17:17 (NLT)
They are brave enough to say it like it is - but gently. 
   "we will speak the truth in love" -Ephesians 4:15 (NLT)
They make promises of selfless love to one another, and keep them. 
   "And Jonathan made David reaffirm his vow of friendship again, for Jonathan loved David as he loved himself." - 1 Samuel 20:17 (NLT)
They speak good of each other, and never bad. 
   "They have told the church here of your loving friendship." -3 John 1:6 (NLT)
They pour good into each other and refuse to gossip or listen to gossip. This is how they honor God and each other's dignity.
   "Lord, who may enter your Holy Tent? Who may live on your holy mountain?  Only those who are innocent   and who do what is right. Such people speak the truth from their hearts and do not tell lies about others. They do no wrong to their neighbor and do not gossip." -Psalm 15:1-3 (NCV)
They accept one another's troubles and baggage, and make a safe place for each other's pain. 
   "By helping each other with your troubles, you truly obey the law of Christ."- Galatians 6:2 (NCV)
They refuse to let insecurity and comparison make fools and enemies of each other. 
   "She is clothed with strength and dignity" - Proverbs 31:25a (NIV)
They laugh at themselves and each other, and don't take one another too seriously. 
   "she can laugh at the days to come." -Proverbs 31:25b (NIV)

When I choose my friends I have learned (the hard way) to look for a few key signals:
1. Does she help me keep my priorities, or is she trying to take the place of my God, my husband, or my family? If she can be comfortable with her place and role in my life, I can begin to let her into my heart.
2. Does she talk about others negatively to me? If a friend is willing to gossip to you, she'll be willing to gossip about you
3. Does she point me back to Jesus and back to my husband when I'm discouraged? If someone tries too hard to carry too much of my load, or expect the reverse of me, I know that can never work. We can help each other without killing each other. 

As far as give and take, each relationship is unique, but overall I believe we can always aim to err on the side of love and grace. A little humility goes a long way. Lead with your ears and learn to be a good listener - this skill only comes in the practicing. Be generous with forgiveness, and know you'll need to receive healthy portions of it too. Hope is often the best gift, and joy is always better when shared. Give verses of encouragement from God's Word, and pray for each other fervently. Give your tears and your shoulder, and open your hands to the special ways your friend loves you. Find common interests and celebrate each other's differences. 

I love these verses when it comes to friendships:

So, chosen by God for this new life of love, dress in the wardrobe God picked out for you: compassion, kindness, humility, quiet strength, discipline. Be even-tempered, content with second place, quick to forgive an offense. Forgive as quickly and completely as the Master forgave you. And regardless of what else you put on, wear love. It’s your basic, all-purpose garment. Never be without it. Let the peace of Christ keep you in tune with each other, in step with each other. None of this going off and doing your own thing. And cultivate thankfulness. Let the Word of Christ—the Message—have the run of the house. Give it plenty of room in your lives. Instruct and direct one another using good common sense. And sing, sing your hearts out to God! Let every detail in your lives—words, actions, whatever—be done in the name of the Master, Jesus, thanking God the Father every step of the way." - Colossians 3:12-17 (Msg)

I hope that helps, and I pray that Jesus will bless you with many beautiful friendships. 

Thank you for asking,


1 comment: