Friend of the Friendless | by Julie

friends

I have no friends! Sure there are the moms at school that I chat with at our kids sporting events, the beautiful ladies I meet with at church for weekly Bible study and, of course, the virtual friends in the Facebook realm, but while I probably refer to most of these women as my “friends”, in all reality they are really just glorified acquaintances. I’ll see ya when I see ya people. Out of sight, out of mind people. You get the idea. If I suddenly vanished nobody would probably even notice, and if they did, it would probably be because they needed a babysitter or were soliciting for a fundraiser. I’m pretty sure none of my “friends” would be sending out a search party. . . lol . . . I’ll laugh to deflect the sheer patheticness of that statement.

Since childhood I’ve been aware of the God-placed space in my heart for companionship. Ecclesiastes 4:9 says, “Two are better than one.” Bible verse after Bible verse stresses the importance and power of fellowship with one another.

Not money, not food, not success, nor good looks can replace or compare to the gift of sharing your life with other people.

As a shy child, making friends never came easy for me and I kind of flitted around from group to group. I would pray for friends (still do) until I finally came into my own around my junior year in high school and began developing real, satisfying friendships on through college. But like most childhood friendships do, most of those relationships have long grown cold due to distance, marriage and time.

As a married mother of two I have ushered in a new season of my life. There are no more high school football games, youth group outings or college parties busting at the seams with single people connecting and sharing life in their abundance of free time. There are new responsibilities – work, parenting, managing a home – that leave little time to connect with and make friends.

As a young mom with young children it still seemed fairly easy to connect with other women. Moms were always looking for friends to have playdates with, and groups like MOPS and Mommy & Me abounded to provide moms a place to find support and friendship. And God blessed me; heard my prayers. During this period in my life I found myself surrounded by the best friends I have ever had. I finally felt completely fulfilled in my relationships with other women and it brought an invaluable richness and meaningfulness to my life. End of story, right? Wrong!

After developing, nurturing and enjoying these friendships for a few years, God had other plans. We moved. Three hours away. And like in my youth, although I still feel very connected to this group of ladies in my heart and love them dearly, geographical distance has taken its toll, and these friendships have fallen into that group of acquaintances, albeit my most prized acquaintances.

I was hopeful, though, excited, to add even more beautiful women to my circle. I jumped in with both feet, striking up conversations with the other moms at school, joining church small groups, local mom groups, etc. Fast forward six years, after a couple of dysfunctional, failed attempts, I still have no true friends.

Making new friends as a mom of school-age children has proven much more difficult. By this stage in life, it seems most women have an established group of friends and there aren’t any vacancies they’re looking to fill.

Maybe they just don’t have time. Maybe they just don’t have the energy to get someone new up to speed on their life. Maybe. . .Maybe. . .I don’t know. Even at church, bridging the gap between acquaintance and actual friend seems like an insurmountable task. I put forth the effort suggested to connect – joining groups, attending functions, volunteering, but still no dice.

Remember that episode of I Love Lucy where she thinks everyone has forgotten her birthday and feels like she hasn’t a friend in the world? She wanders off into the park and comes across the Friends of the Friendless and they immediately embrace her and rescue her from her aloneness. Not because she’s pretty. Not because she’s got a great sense of humor. Not because she has money. But simply because she needs a friend.

One of the members says, “I would like to tell you of something that happened to me. And the lesson I learned, and the meaning of true friendship. I didn’t have a friend in the world. I was just a bit of flotsam in the sea of life. A pitiful outcast, shunned by my fellow man. I was a mess. And then, one day they came along, these good people. . .unasked. The Friends of the Friendless. And they put their arm around my waist and they said, ‘We will be your friend, because you are friendless, and we are the Friends of the Friendless. And if you accept our friendship you will never again be friendless, for we are the Friends of the Friendless, and you will have friends.’ To this day I have never been friendless. I have friends. Friends in the time of joy; friends in the time of sorrow. Real friends. True friends. Friends.”

Wow! I want a friend like that. And then it dawned on me. I’m not friendless. I have a friend like that. We all have a friend like that.

Jesus came to be a friend of the friendless.

He was a friend to the sinful woman who washed his feet with her tears and dried them with her hair. He was a friend to Zacchaeus, the corrupt tax collector. He was a friend to the promiscuous woman at the well. He was a friend to Thomas, the doubter, and Judas, the betrayer. He is a friend to all of us. He shares in our grief. He rejoices in our happiness. He loves us unconditionally for who we are, just because. He is the ultimate bestie. And because of Him we will never be alone. We will never be friendless.

Still, even God said in Genesis, “It is not good for man to be alone,” on this earth. I miss and desire friends to laugh with, friends to cry with, friends to support and encourage me on bad days and celebrate with me on good ones. . .So I’ll continue my quest for true friendship resting in the contentment and peace that I find in my Savior. Wouldn’t it be so much easier, though, if there was an e-Harmony or Christian Mingle for platonic friendships?!

MWF seeks loyal BFF. Enjoys chit chat, lunch dates and the occasional girl’s night out.
Must love laughing and be able to finish off a gallon of ice cream in one sitting.
Remembering my birthday is a plus!

So if you’re in the market for a best friend, I’m accepting applications!

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Moving and Growing | by Lesley

received_10205393124854555We just moved. It’s a good thing – bigger house, bigger backyard with a POOL, nice neighborhood, only a short distance to our old home and old neighbors that we love. We are so grateful and in disbelief that this home is where we get to live. But no matter how you slice it, moving is hard. And stressful. We hadn’t moved in 13 years, and in those 13 years we added four children and all that goes along with that (um, lots of stuff). We also thought it would be fun to GUT our new kitchen and remodel it, because being without a kitchen was a needed challenge in my life. Or the opposite.

There have been some really good lessons and reminders for me in this move.  I am a recovering perfectionist, so these are lessons that might seem “duh” to some people but are really a challenge for me. I’m thinking some people can relate:

#1. Relationships are ALWAYS more important than the to-do list. I struggle with this so much. I am extremely task oriented and thrive on efficiency. Last week I had a day with lots to do (just another day really), and I made a difficult (for me) decision to put that aside and spend some time counseling someone. I secretly wished she would cancel, but she didn’t.  And I am so glad – cause it turns out *I* needed it as much as she did, maybe more. We are designed to be in relationship with others and when we prioritize people it fills us, and we are then better prepared for the task list.

#2. Patience – um, yeah.  Not my strong suit by a long shot.  And you know what? When you do any remodeling, it always takes longer than you think (or they say). Every.single.time. So I am resigned right now to have a camping kitchen for a while. And whenever I start to feel a little bit sorry for myself, I remind myself that the majority of people in this world … this country … this city … do not have the luxury of having a working kitchen, let alone remodeling one. Pity party = done.

#3. Priorities have to constantly be evaluated. I am always asking myself, what needs to get done this week … today … this moment? I try to focus on those tasks and put blinders on so I don’t see the rest. This allows me to get done what absolutely needs to get done and still be nice. Because if I look around at all that needs to be done, I will go into a corner and roll in a ball and cry. I am easily distracted and have a difficult time focusing on one thing.  This is still a process for me, but I am getting better.

#4. Rest is important. Like really important. It’s tough to do, because it seems there is always something more to accomplish. Somehow our culture has lured us into thinking we must always be busy and doing something. But, God COMMANDED rest, a day of it in fact every week. I’ve found when I do rest, I am better prepared for what is to come. If I go non-stop, nothing gets done well and I usually end up getting sick, and grumpy.  My husband and I had an opportunity to go away overnight (without kids!) just a couple of days before moving. It was hard to leave – we had lots of packing left and construction to manage.  But we did it.  We relaxed, talked without interruption, and just hung out together.  I think we slept till 7:30 am!  And wow, it truly made the week ahead much easier to handle.

There are likely many more lessons for me as we continue remodeling and unpacking, and I’m sure I will continue working on the above every day. At the moment, I am feeling really grateful for the opportunity to grow. I don’t feel that way every moment, but the big picture reminds me to keep striving to grow closer in line with God’s characteristics, not mine.

Oh, and a side note: we have TOO MUCH STUFF. It seems to have multiplied in our garage and I can’t wait to get rid of most of it. Garage sale pending. And also, we are never, ever moving again. Ever.