A Matter of Friendship

When I get back to my post on the how and the why of this blogging thing I do, one of the things I plan to address a little more is why some posts just don't get published when I plan.  Part of that is that there are just times...like today...when I had planned a specific post, but my brain just won't compose it.  Brain fog, exhaustion, maybe just plain old writer's block, I don't know...but there are just times when I can't seem to push through on a certain post.

I had really hoped that I'd be able to finish either the story of how Billy and I met or the blogging post tonight.  But it just isn't happening.  So I began to dig through the drafts folder to see what might be almost-ready to post.

I saved these links a long time ago. Apparently a couple of years ago, since they all seem to be from late June or early July of 2011! I had planned a blog post of my own to go along with them.

Maybe I'll still get to that post someday.  But this is one of those posts that has rather taken on a mind of its own today...where thoughts spill out unplanned and with very little effort.  Today I'll just share those tumbled-out thoughts and the links that have been waiting patiently all this time to go with them. :)

I have been more and more convinced in recent years of the vital importance of Christian friendships.  Yes, there are those God calls into situations in remote places with little contact with other Christians, but they are the exception rather than the rule.

This list of links caught my eye today especially because of a comment made at VBS this morning that took me a bit by surprise.  The comment was, "I can tell you and K. spend a lot of time together.  You have similar mannerisms and speech patterns and you use a lot of the same expressions."  (That's not an exact quote...it's the closest my VBS-fried brain can get at the moment! But you get the idea. :))

I was surprised because although K. has been one of my closest friends since we used to take our oldest kids to lunch in carseat carriers, we tend to think we're pretty opposite in many ways.  I love to craft; crafting gives her hives.  She's a numbers person; I'm very much a pictures and words kind of gal.  I make her crazy when I read a book series out of sequence, and her insistence on reading everything in order makes me laugh.

But...she's one of a very few heart friends who knows me inside and out.  We've been through the kind of hard stuff nightmares are made of together.  She's an iron-sharpens-iron friend.  I'm blessed to have several, and I'm thankful beyond words for them.

K. and I try to get to lunch at least once a month or so.   We started out going to Western Sizzlin with two kids and one on the way...we've both added to that number since then, and now we do most of our lunches at McDonalds with a total of six.  Our lunches consist of laughter, deep conversation (even some of Bro. Kent's "deep waters" theology!), sometimes tears, and always lots of interruptions and fun from our kids. :)

I realized after that comment today that while we don't see ourselves as terribly "alike" in many ways, in the ways that matter, we are way more alike than we sometimes realize.  And she's not the only friend I tend to resemble at times. :)

That reminded me that as we often tell our children, it matters who our friends are.  Those we spend a great deal of time with, those we become closest to, will influence us in ways we may never realize.

Yes, we need to reach out to the world.  Yes, we need to sweet fellowship with our part of the Body of Christ as a whole.  But we also need those deep, heart-close friendships.  Those deep friendships need to be with those who will sharpen and encourage and comfort and sometimes even admonish us.  And we need to invest in those relationships to do the same with them.

Those relationships take work.  But they are so worth it.  And as Christians, we need to make a priority of fellowship with the larger body of Christ and of those close "iron sharpens iron" friendships.

I guess maybe I wrote that blog post I'd planned so long ago after all...at least part of it! :)  I've also re-read these linked articles again...and they are so very worth the time it takes to click over and read them.  (And if you don't have time now, print or save them to read later!)

A Thousand Times Over ~ Eye opening post by Courtney at Growing is Beautiful ~ We must not rob others of the chance to love us! 

"When we shield others from the full weight of who we are, we rob them of the chance to love us."  

"And I see it now, how I've spent a whole life believing that it's my job to protect the world from all of me.  From my pain and all the broken places.  From my thoughts and my hopes and all the million things that make me who I am.

Because being a burden to people means they'll get tired of carrying me.  And when they do, they'll leave me on the side of the road for someone else to find.  But I learned it young that maybe I wouldn't have to be left if I just carried all this weight alone."
Oh, how Satan wants us to think this way!  Read Courtney's post, and as I friend of mine would say..."Get over it!"  (along with "It's not a burden...that's what friends are for!")

Don't Be a Lone Ranger Christian ~ Sally Clarkson on the importance of friendships ~ This is oh, so good!  If you don't have time to read it now, print or save it and read it later!
"Satan has crafted this idea of fierce independence and lone ranger mentality. We even tend to value the one who 'did it his way.' We admire the tough independent. We think we can stand alone in our trials and battles. We go to large churches where we are not accountable. We do not know our neighbors. This has never been God’s way and it has never been Biblical."

"We need people to rally us to our best, to hold us accountable, to talk us out of compromise, to pray for miracles and expectation before God together."

Hanging Out with the Right Crowd? ~ More from Sally Clarkson ~ Her PS on this one clarifies so much so well.  
”Invest time with friends who build you up in all the areas of your ideals as often as possible. Cultivate them, affirm them, love them, invest in them."

An Appetizer for the Feast ~ Excellent post on friendship by Noel Piper ~ So, so good, especially for those who don't think they "need friends", from the heart of a true introvert.
"Jesus said, 'I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you' (John 15:15). He is the one I most want as a friend. I don’t want ever to be totally alone, without Jesus. I thank God for friends who have shown me Jesus’ kind of love. They have been an appetizer for the feast of Jesus’ friendship."

On Being Thoughtful ~ Good reminder from Aimee at Living, Learning, and Loving Simply ~ This one has convicted me all over again tonight.  I am so blessed with friends who are so good at this...but it doesn't often come naturally to me.  Oh, I think about it!  But I so often let the mundane and the urgent get in the way, and I just never get around to those good intentions.  Praying that God will move me to do those small acts through which He shines big and beautifully!
"Never underestimate the power of small acts of love... for in those, Jesus shines big and beautifully."

The Gift of Friendship and the Godliness of Good Friends ~ Part 1 of a thought-provoking and convicting series by Kevin DeYoung ~ 

"It’s surprising we don’t talk more about friendship in the church. Depending on how you define friendship, the Bible may have more to say about the friend relationship than it does about marriage and parenting. Further, I bet church “satisfaction” is largely based on two things. If you find happy churchgoers I wager you’ll find these two items present, and where church members are unhappy, I can almost guarantee these two things are missing: quality teaching and quality relationships. No doubt, there are many other important aspects of church life. But for most folks these are the two that matter most. People want a church that teaches them well (which includes sermons, songs, classes, and Bible studies) and a church where they can make friends."

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(Sorry for the weird sizing and spacing on this post.  Blogger's being difficult this evening, and I'm too tired to fight with it. Maybe I can fix it tomorrow. :))

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