Purposeful Faith

Tag - friendship

What it Looks Like to Be a Good Friend

The checkout counter lady turned to me, right there next to my shopping cart and said, “Can I hug you?”

I wasn’t expecting it. I hadn’t done much to warrant it. I hadn’t ushered in world peace to the foundations of her life or dropped all my shopping goods to figure out her life plan or answered her every heart question. All I did was approach her in an authentic way.

When I came up to check out at Trader Joe’s (which I super-love, by the way!), she asked, “How’s your day? You sure bought a lot…” It was an understatement. My cart was so high the stuff was nearly toppling over on one side.

“I am trying to do a better job at taking care of the family. This is my attempt at it.”

She looked at the stuff and at me. Then she opened up about her stuff. I encouraged her and said a couple little things like, “I understand,” “I get that” and “It’s worth taking a risk. Risks you don’t regret, but regret, you do. ”

It wasn’t much. Not real brainiac stuff, but it was real. And this was the point, I suppose.

A couple days later, I met with another friend. She kind of shocked me when she did exactly the same. We were just hanging out and all of a sudden, she turned towards me, out of the blue, and hugged me. “Kelly, I’ve been through so much. It has just been one thing on top of another falling. Thank you for being here.”

I was taken aback.

Why are these people hugging me out of nowhere? I am doing nothing except being here with them.

With the checkout counter lady, I was with her as she talked about her future education, her fear and her boyfriend.

With my friend, I was with her as she explained how hard of a time it has been for her.

With.

Sometimes, the most impactful thing we can ever be is – with.

Not with – and giving advice.

Not with – and saying, “Oh you know, that once happened to me.”

Not with – and counting up what you’ll say next.

Not with – and thinking of other things.

Not with – and internally over their issues.

Just – with.

With…and understanding, feeling compassion, seeking to know, truly engaging, asking questions, responding generously, giving our true and painful story when led by God. Something I don’t do often, but I guess I did on those days.

The irony is that when you are with someone, you get touched back. God does it one way or another. People reach into your space and give you something you didn’t know you needed, but you desperately wanted. They cling to you and through authenticity, you realize you need them as much as they need you. They look at you in a way that lets you know your humility is shifting something in their life.

And one day, it’ll be you in their shoes – just needing to vent. It creates a security in your heart. Things will be okay.

“A friend loves at all times.” Prov. 17:17

 

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Beating Shame to The Ground

beating shame

I took down the pillars of protection to share my heart – and she trampled it.
She said, you really need to get over that feeling, you have to fix that.

It was a “What’s wrong with you?” comeback, to an “I already feel terrible” confession.

It hurt.

Was she right that I needed to change? Of course.
But did it make me want to? No way.

It made me want to add more and more pillars so that no person, no way, no how could knock the walls of my heart down again.

But should I?

Does it benefit me to become just as wrapped up
as a present heading off to some distant land?

Wont this kind of approach keep me just that – distant?

I am tired of distance. I long for closeness. I long for unity. I long to see beyond name brands of clothes and schedules of kids and discussions on traffic. I long to know someone deeply, so deeply that they can speak in to my heart and that I may speak into theirs – empowered by God’s truth laser focused into deep needs.

I long for this and God does too. He tells me to be truthful.

But what do I do when the responses of others
want to shut me up as tight as a submarine in 800-foot waters?

Truthful lips endure forever, but a lying tongue is but for a moment. Prov. 12:19

A moment is pretty much a waste – a momentary smile, a momentary cheer, a momentary friend.

I want what lasts, what counts, what heals, what works, what transforms. The answer is always Jesus.  And Jesus was never so concerned with buttoning up his vest to hide that he missed all the opportunities to love.

Because of that, his love is always available to me…
As others batter me.
When the world comes against.
When I feel like running away.

His resurrection power awaits, when I feel body slammed to the ground of shamefulness.

Perhaps the greater lesson in sharing is learning that
my heart is not set on the ups-and-downs of others words,
but on the solid-rock of Christ.

Then I can follow through on God’s calling, which is to:

1. Encourage each other.
We feel most encouraged as we share and others see the real person God created us to be.
Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing. 1 Thess. 5:11

2. Confess to one another.
Sharing is the starting point to confession.
Therefore confess your sins to each other… Ja. 5:16

3. Pray over healing.
You can’t heal what you don’t know about.
…pray for each other so that you may be healed. Ja. 5:16

To breathe in the power of God, we must exhale the truth of our heart. As our spiritual hunger surfaces, his healing, love and power will seep into our deepest reaching infections.

Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces. Mt. 7:6

Certainly, there is wisdom in this great unveiling. We share with those who understand the delicate nature of pearls. With people, who don’t reside in stinky places that want to make our stuff stink too. 

May we have the wisdom to know the difference. May we see their dwelling places (trough or temple?), as we share the dwelling place of our heart.

We won’t always be protected from shame, but we will know God has us all the same.

And, perhaps we will see that:

The leap of spiritual growth is well worth the moment of vulnerable uncertainty and insanity.
Although we may feel naked, God sees us as we are – and loves us anyway.
Intimacy is the greatest way into the heart of God.

Deeper love. Deeper pursuit of God’s hole-filling abilities and a more powerful pursuit of Christ – this is all ours as we take down our pillars of protection to see through God’s eyes.

In a way – we can’t lose. 

Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. Gal 6:2

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Acts of Kindness Matter

Acts of Kindness Matter

There is power in the unseen acts of a friend.

Not so long ago, I had been delivered soul-crushing news.
News that gave me a new revelation of the past.
News that made me wonder if I was still good, worthy and valuable.

It made me see myself in a new light. It was I-don’t-know-if-I-can-handle-it type news.

I knew God says, “They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” (Lam. 3:23)

But, did God really have faithfulness stored in this?

It seemed this news, this turmoil, and this trouble now excluded me from His promises.

Attempting to push past feelings, I called out to God with all my heart, saying, “Come Lord. Save me in this situation. Heal me and help me.”

Shockingly, as I drove up my driveway later that morning, something caught my eye. A white as snow gift-wrapped box leaned against my garage door.

I couldn’t find a name, but when I opened it and was awe-struck with its contents. What it contained inside changed my entire perspective.

It was as if the very heart of God was delivered to me in a box. It was as if a giant hug and a note of his faithfulness was sent.

Inside lay a picture frame with the words, “The LORD will fight for you; you need only to be still.” (Ex. 14:14)

These words were the exact message that I needed; they healed my heart and spoke to the depths of my pain.  I was touched by God, but I was so deeply touched by the love poured out by a friend.

She had been used as an angel of God that day.
She never sought recognition or acclaim.
She had no idea of my pain, but did a nice act all the same.

What she probably doesn’t know is that this act meant all the difference. It changed my vision. 

It wasn’t about her recognition or acclaim. She had no knowledge regarding my issue – but, all the same, she offered a gesture of love. Love that was sacrificial, that took her time, that used her money, but that healed a heart.

I was brought to my knees. I was touched. I felt so loved.

I don’t know who this woman is. I may never know. But, what I do know is that God has special rewards for her in heaven. I also know that she taught me a lesson in friendship that day.

She makes me wonder:

Do I go out of my way to make small acts of love?
Do I give my time and money intentionally?
Do I see the friend who is likely hurting?
Do I shower them with advice or do I love them under the radar?

This friend inspires me to love through the power of God. Because friends are often the messengers of God’s faithfulness. I want to deliver Jesus’ messages.

Small acts of kindness do matter and love does conquers all. Friends are the best vehicles for his love, mercy and grace. They drive his truth home in our hearts.

Small acts of kindness matter; they completely transform lives.

“Friendship is unnecessary, like philosophy, like art… It has no survival value; rather it is one of those things that give value to survival.” – C.S. Lewis

“The next best thing to being wise oneself is to live in a circle of those who are.” – C.S. Lewis

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