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Friendship begins with my attitude

Last night our family of six rolled into our new town.  We packed up our house in Georgia, said goodbye to friends and familiarity, and now we’re living out of suitcases and a hotel room for the next week while we wait for our home to be ready for move-in.

Moving is always an adventure.  Some might say it’s a logistical nightmare, others won’t even consider moving because of the hassle that entails.  We’re a military family, so it’s just what we do.  I guess I’ve gotten used to boxing up our stuff, finding my way around new places, and learning new layouts of grocery stores {why is every Target and Wal-Mart different??}.

One thing that I haven’t gotten used to is friendships.

Maintaining friendships with people where we’ve formerly lived is challenging.  Pushing myself to make friends in new places is scary.

Oh, sure, I have hundreds of friends on Facebook, a few connections on Instagram, and you, my blog readers.  And, I certainly value each of these.

I think we were made for more than just liking each others’ pictures and commenting on statuses and such. Friendships need to take place away from our screens, face-to-face, on the phone talking, sharing the messy parts, not just our post-worthy pictures and witty statuses.

My two oldest girls were playing on the swing at my sister’s house the other day.  Laughing, taking turns pushing each other, sometimes swinging alone.  Their interactions reminded me of how easy it was to make friends when I was a kid.  Sometimes I just needed someone to push me on the swing.  After a few turns, we would switch places, without even saying anything.  Before long, we’d be playing tag, going over to play at each other’s house, and whispering secrets at slumber parties.

Without even knowing it, we were inviting, receiving, sharing and growing.

Why has it become so difficult as adults?

I’m sure there are many people who could answer that question and unearth lots of psychological issues that I am quite unqualified to understand, let alone explain.  For me, I think it boils down to my selfishness.

Friendship, good friendship, begins with my attitude.  I have to stop thinking about myself.

So simple, really, but over and over God shows me just how selfish I am.  With my time, my house, my stuff, my family.

1 Peter 3:8 says, “Finally, all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind.”

I had never read this with the idea of friendship in mind, but this past week, it struck me:  each of these commands are others-focused and sort of summarize how to be a good friend.

Unity of  mind.  In the body of Christ we are one, and we hold to the truth which should be fleshed out in harmony with one another.

Sympathy.  I have to feel with others, come alongside them and weep or rejoice, whichever they are doing at any given moment.

It seems pretty obvious here that if I am to sympathize with others then I need to know what’s happening in their life.  I have to ask questions and spend time with them.  Most people will not divulge their deepest challenges without the foundation of a solid relationship, and that takes time spent together.

Even people who don’t know the Lord need our sympathy.  Often times, through the challenges of life, we’re given more opportunities to openly share about our hope in Jesus.  What greater truth can we give to someone who is hurting than the truth of the gospel!

Brotherly love.  Love those who are near to me.  True love will result in service.  Giving my time to listen or drink a cup of coffee together, opening my home to share a meal, helping out when people are in need.  These are practical evidences of love.

Tender heart.  This is much like sympathy, only a little bit deeper.  John MacArthur, in his commentary on 1 Peter says, “Much like sympathetic, the expression calls for being so affected by the pain of others as to feel it deeply, following the kind of tenderhearted compassion God, through His Son, has for sinners” (188).

This means that I also need to be willing to share my own heart.  Openness can’t just be one-sided.  And, if we’re supposed to feel with one another, then we need to make ourselves vulnerable, allowing others to walk through life with us, even if it means that they see what a mess we are.

Humble mind.  The  most challenging thing for me.  Always regarding others before myself, just as Jesus did, is tough.  But, we’re instructed to (Philippians 2:3); it’s not optional.

Most likely in friendship there will be giving and receiving.  Sometimes the only receiving may be joy in knowing that you are serving and loving.  Either way, a humble mind is essential.

…………………………………………………………………………………………

Next Thursday I will open the door to a new home, in a new community, surrounded by new people.

My prayer is that God will continue to teach me how to be a purposeful friend.  That He will help me to open up my door and let people in, open my heart and allow people to be known and to know me, and love people in true friendship.



How do you strive to be a purposeful friend?

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4 Comments

  • Reply Karen Brown

    Lauren, I loved this post! Your writing is articulate and full of creative imagery. Thanks for sharing your gift! And isn’t it amazing how kids have no walls? Always ready to pour themselves out for one another? We can learn a lot from watching them…away from our screens. Amen to that.
    Oh. And those pictures…gorgeous!
    I’m so glad I found you on the linkup!

    June 20, 2014 at 7:55 pm
  • Reply Tara Ulrich

    I totally get you! I moved to a new community about six months ago and felt like it was so hard to make friends! Yet God has blessed me with some amazing friendships here! I hope you are blessed by amazing friendships too!!

    June 20, 2014 at 8:14 pm
  • Reply Tara Ulrich

    Hi! I moved to a new community about six months and totally get where you are coming from. I feared having to create new friendships but in the midst of it all, God blessed me with some of the most amazing friendships. I hope you are as blessed as I am with friends as you begin a new start in a new community!

    June 20, 2014 at 10:43 pm
  • Reply waymel

    Mostly I stalk people on social media. 🙂 Kidding! I have often wished I could go up to someone who seems nice, like my kids do, and ask, “Do you wanna be my friend?” That works so well for kids. It’s definitely harder for adults. Everyone is so busy, and even people who are friendly don’t always make time for new friendships. But I hope we’ll be friends! We’d love to have y’all over for dinner — I know eating out can get old during transition. I think Kim gave you my number? Oh and the church question…we go to First Baptist because our kids really like it there. If you’re looking for a PCA church, both Pinewoods and McIlwain are great churches, but of course it depends what you’re looking for in a church.

    June 20, 2014 at 11:33 pm
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