Monday, February 10, 2014

Friendship



In this post I am going to bear my heart a little bit.
I have not always been good about keeping friendships alive.
I guess because I have been blessed with such a happy marriage and fulfilling role as a mom to my three children, I overlooked the importance of having healthy and happy relationships with other people in my life...even with my two brothers and my sister.
Recently, I had a phone conversation with a friend who told me that she was receiving several phone calls from some of the women whom I used to attend Bible study with last year asking her about me.
I asked her why were they calling her and not me?...I told her that my heart was hurt by this.
Jeff joked that maybe some people are afraid they might catch my cancer...Bad joke, I know...But seriously, my friends who live nearby (all but one) have avoided me like the plague!
So, I asked my friend on the phone why she thought this was happening, and together we came to the conclusion that...I always seemed like the kind of person who has it all together, has the answer and therefore, does not need anything from anyone...Wow, what a revelation! What a horrible revelation.
Especially when that is completely untrue.
I guess I have done an excellent job of wearing a mask, and fooling people into thinking that I am stronger than I really am...that I am smarter, and more capable than I really am.
I guess it comes from the way I had to grow up...I had to be independent.
Regardless where it came from...It has to end...now.
Even the friend on the phone has recently confessed that she has avoided me because she does not know what to say to me in order to bring joy and happiness into my life.
I am surprised and saddened by her confession...I thought that it was obvious that I already have joy and happiness, cancer or no cancer, and that comes from Jesus himself.
What an unbearable burden for anyone to have to carry...feeling that it was their job as a friend to make someone happy all the time!
First of all, happiness is not a state of being...It is only moments in our lives, a fleeting feeling much like anger, sadness, glee...etc.!
Only joy is everlasting...Being joyful in the Lord comes from knowing the Lord on a real personal level...regardless of our circumstances, our joy never wavers.
But, it is possible for the enemy of our souls to steal it away from us... though he cannot take it unless we allow him to.
One of the first things I realized upon the diagnosis of cancer was that things seemed clearer...priorities shifted into place rather quickly. Now being settled into it a bit longer, I have this sometimes overwhelming urgency to set things right. Get rid of the bull crap...the everyday things that take up space in our lives that have no right to that space...that valuable real estate.
The way that I see it, I have two choices here: I either re-evaluate the relationships in my life right now, whether they are really genuine or not...and then work harder at nurturing those relationships that truly are genuine, or I continue to wear the mask and pretend that I do not need friends at all...so things are just fine as they are.

Real friendship is not like that. Jesus set the example. When His good friend Lazarus died, it might have seemed at first that Jesus either did not care, or did not want to go to him when he was sick.

20 When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went out to meet him, but Mary stayed at home.

21 “Lord,” Martha said to Jesus, “if you had been here, my brother would not have died. 22 But I know that even now God will give you whatever you ask.”...

...When Mary reached the place where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet and said, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.”

33 When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled. 34 “Where have you laid him?” he asked.
“Come and see, Lord,” they replied.
35 Jesus wept.
36 Then the Jews said, “See how he loved him!”
37 But some of them said, “Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man have kept this man from dying?"  (John 11)

But Jesus, being God, had a plan for Lazarus, and for all who were to witness his death...

38 Jesus, once more deeply moved, came to the tomb. It was a cave with a stone laid across the entrance. 39 “Take away the stone,” he said.
“But, Lord,” said Martha, the sister of the dead man, “by this time there is a bad odor, for he has been there four days.”
40 Then Jesus said, “Did I not tell you that if you believe, you will see the glory of God?”
41 So they took away the stone. Then Jesus looked up and said, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me. 42 I knew that you always hear me, but I said this for the benefit of the people standing here, that they may believe that you sent me.”
43 When he had said this, Jesus called in a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!” 44 The dead man came out, his hands and feet wrapped with strips of linen, and a cloth around his face.
Jesus said to them, “Take off the grave clothes and let him go.” (John11)

Even though Jesus knew that Lazarus was not to remain dead, he was still very deeply moved when he arrived to find his friend already in the grave, and the family grieving.
We are not Jesus...Sure, we are like him the more we learn of Him and follow Him, but only Jesus can resurrect a friend from death...only Jesus can heal a broken spirit, cleanse away our sins, and bring us pure joy.
But, he expects us to do what we can for our friends...

 



 
John 15:12-15 “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you.

I have read the above verse many times, and every time I read it I am impressed by Jesus saying that we must be willing to lay down our lives for our friends...I always thought that this meant, not only a willingness to die for a friend, but also a willingness to put aside (lay down) our time, agenda, wants, and needs in our own life in order to help a friend, in order to spend time nurturing a friendship.
if that is what Jesus means, then I am guilty of not following this command...So, I must work on this before I can call myself a friend of Jesus!

Here are a few more examples, that I for one, need to study more about how to treat my friends:

Luke 6:31 And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them.

Romans 12:10 Love one another with brotherly affection. Out do one another in showing honor.

Ephesians 4:29-32 Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.

Colossians 3:12-14 Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.

I have asked the Lord for forgiveness for neglecting such an important part of life...and I now realize the sorrow of missed blessings...both given and received because of this neglect.
All I can do is to strive from this day forward to try to be a better friend, and to communicate to those whom regard me as a friend, that I will try harder to do what Jesus asks when it comes to laying down my life for them...whether in their times of trouble when I can share their tears and frustrations, or in their times of happiness when I can share in their laughter and joy!

 I am sorry if I ever made you feel that it was your job to make me happy all the time.

I already have a friend who does that... His name is Jesus!

One who has unreliable friends soon comes to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother. (Prov. 18:24)



~Blessings & Love,
and remember, we are...

~NEVER FORSAKEN~

23 comments:

  1. So very true. I love you my friend, always.

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    1. I know you know what it is like to go through this, Denise...I am always encouraged by how you remain so sweet and upbeat!
      I also know it is the Lord in you that keeps you sweet and strong too :)
      Love you too, my dear friend!

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  2. Another great post that really hit home, Lisa! Hope you are doing well!

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    1. Hi Jane,
      I am quite well...feeling great!
      How is it with you? Are you getting a lot of snow over there?
      My daughter in Pt. Huron says they have been snowed in and the kids were out of school last week...And they are all getting the flu one at a time...so they haven't been able to visit me!
      I can't wait for this weather to break, and spring to come this year so that I can see my granddaughters again!
      ((hugs))

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  3. Hi Lisa, I'm sure whatever you decide to do it will be done with great thought and sincerity....
    the people who have fallen away from you are missing out! I think you would make a true friend, not a lightweight acquaintance....so don't be too hard on yourself.
    Remember ~ your blog friends are there for you!
    xx

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    1. Hi Alex,
      I am so grateful for my blog friends!
      God is so awesome to have allowed me to meet so many sweet people...I can't imagine not knowing you now.
      I am aware that when I posted this my emotions were quite raw at the realization that so many people, including a really good friend could ever feel like they did not know what to say to me at this time...I guess it caught me by surprise...But, maybe after my treatments are over and I have regained my health, they will find encouragement through what I have gone through...and maybe they will not be so afraid of cancer, or anything that might come along in life that seems unbearable...though with the Lord it is bearable!
      Thanks for your friendship and your encouragement! ((hugs))

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  4. Hi Lisa,
    As I read I thought about Ecclesiastes 3:1 There is a time for everything, and everything on earth has its special season. There is a time for friends and true friends do understand this and will be there when you reach out. I'm sure when you do reach out to these friends of yours and let them know your need they will be there to meet you.

    Hugs my friend I think you are really sweet. :)
    <><

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    1. Hi Sweetie,
      One thing I must try to remember is even when I reach out to someone...they must be in the right place in their lives in order to be able to rise to the occasion...It is not an easy thing to reach back when you are called...not if you are heavy laden with so much turmoil in your own life...Sometimes people are just too weary, and they need help themselves before they can help anyone else!
      I have all I need...Father is a good Father, a perfect provider!
      And I do not minimize the importance of my friends like you and others whom even though we have never met face to face...I feel a kinship to! (because we ARE family)!
      I sometimes forget that I have been called to encourage others...That is my spiritual gift...and one wonderful opportunity to be able to do this is to show my brethren that it is possible to overcome something very difficult in such a way that it can only be described as supernatural...And not only survive, but thrive because of the power of Jesus and the power of prayer and faith and hope and the reality of JOY!
      I sometimes forget that this is not all about me...Please pray for the friend that I mentioned above...the one I spoke with on the phone who confessed she did not know what to say to me.
      ((hugs))...You are sweet too...that's why I call you 'Sweetie' LOL!

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    2. We both have the same spiritual gift, to encourage. I can relate to you here, and it seems on many levels.
      Your testimony is powerful, keep sharing it. Others will be encouraged by it and will grow in their walk.
      I will pray for your friend and for Father to bring the two of you into a good, deep, healing conversation.
      Lol, from one sweetie to another. :))

      Blessings,
      <><

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    3. ~LOL~
      Yes, He is already working on her...I feel confident that this was all part of His will for things to be revealed so that we can deal with them!
      Always appreciate your prayers...and your friendship...:D

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  5. Lisa, I got to thinking about Job when I was reading your post. How his friends did the best thing in the very beginning (before they opened their mouths!!). They simply came alongside Job in his misery, and sat with him.

    I hope that when my words fail, that you will know that I am still here with you, coming alongside to be with you during this journey.

    And together, we will hold on to Jesus.

    GOD BLESS!

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    1. Hi Sharon,
      I forgot about Job...I usually try not to think about him too much, as it is scary to even contemplate ever having to endure all that Job did in order to test his faith!

      But, you are right. And Jesus was abandoned by friends also...It all boils down to fear.
      Cancer is scary.
      people do not know what to say, even when I tell them that I am in perfect peace...I am joyful and happy to have been given a second chance at life!
      I forget, that people have lost people to this terrible disease, and the fear of it might be overwhelming to them no matter what I tell them...no matter the truth of my own particular situation!
      I guess I need to just concentrate on getting through the treatments and show people that not only is this doable...and wwe can survive...But we can also thrive even in the midst of difficulty...Only when we have hope and trust in Jesus...holding on to him and holding on to each other makes a stronghold that can and will endure anything!
      Thanks for the encouragement, my friend!

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  6. Lisa, how I can relate to "friends" that can hurt; it seems the older I get, I find there are fewer friends I can really count on to share hurts, reveal feelings, confess failures, admit fears, acknowledge weaknesses, and ask for help and prayer. I have always believed that authentic friendship is not superficial! It is a genuine, heart-to-heart, and sharing relationship that happens when people get honest about who they are and what is happening in their lives. I am so thankful to God for helping me through hurt feelings and showing me how to be content and how to cherish the few very close relationships I do have! :)

    You are such a blessing to me and many others, and your true friends and loving family will always be beside you!

    Bunches of hugs sister!
    Denise

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    1. Hi Denise,
      It seems that the last couple times when I have visited and commented on your blog...I end up making a post here relating to it!
      I am learning more and more the value of being honest about my feelings and what is going on in life.
      It is so very easy to write about the cheerful stuff in life...and that is OK some of the time...as it does encourage and uplift...But to be honest, we are all human trying to be more Christ like, and it takes work! And we do fall and get some scrapes and bruises along the way.
      It is not easy when we get our hearts hurt by people whom we love...But, there might be more going on behind the scenes in their lives right now that make them unaware of how hurtful their actions or words might be to us...Life is so very complex!
      ~((HUGS))~

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  7. Hi Lisa,
    this is a lovely, open post relating how you genuinely feel, and this is how I believe we draw closer together - by being honest and open with one another because many of us share the same ways in our lives and can relate to one another's feelings.
    God bless you

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    1. Hi Brenda,
      Honesty about our feelings does make us better able to relate to each other. Wearing a mask when things get uncomfortable might seem easier, but in the long run...just as Scripture teaches us...all things will be revealed...The truth is always the truth whether we try to hide it or not...and it is the truth that sets us free. Jesus is working on our lives...each one of us, and we must be willing to show how He is working through even the messy stuff.
      Blessings and love~

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  8. Hi Lisa, this was a beautiful post today. Friendship is a precious gift. One of the important things, I have learned, from my own personal experience over the years: is that good people and good friends often have misunderstandings. It is especially important to try and avoid making quick decisions about our friends, and assuming we understand why they say or do the things they do, until we have a chance to really communicate one on one.

    My best friend of 35 years and I have had many times when we have not been able to understand the stage of life the other is in, because we have not got there yet. We have both said things to each other, meaning and wanting only the best: only later to find that we inadvertently touched upon the other's sore wound. But as the scriptures say, "love bears all things and believes all things". True friends, believe the best motives in one another. Doing so brings us such peace of heart. There are always things we can do to be better friends, but it seems like there are a lot of people who love you a great deal Lisa, and who pray for you, so rest well tonight dear one and know that you are a treasured person. With Love, Delisa :)

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    1. Hi Delisa,
      I am grateful for your comment. I did not really think about the possibility that she maybe cannot understand this particular life challenge that I am experiencing...That would explain a lot!
      I guess I need to talk with her about this matter further.
      As for the other friends who have avoided me, they never really were the kind of friends who called much anyway...Like I mentioned in my post, Jeff and I have lived our lives centered around one another and our children, so friendships were always quite casual throughout our lives...I do however, worry like a mother hen about the few friends that I have...and this post is a result of failed attempts at being able to communicate with them about my concern.
      Cancer scares people...I have to admit that I might react the same way if I were in their shoes. I would hope not though.
      Perfect scripture! Thank you so much for reminding me that love bears all things...So very true!
      You are a treasured friend as well, Dear one~

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  9. **I have to send two comment messages. -ugh, so long it said that I exceeding the space!

    As you know I have been writing about friendship a little bit about my blog. You got me thinking some more. I hope it’s okay to open my heart here with you about it…

    For a long time, I felt hurt about it, I felt abandoned.
    It hurts. It just really hurts.
    In fact it really does hurt that it makes me tear up right now.


    The strangest thing about it all is that I was the one who always wanted to abandon myself from social settings. So why would I let myself get caught up about something like this after all?

    God has since taught me that it is not the depression that I am to blame (we know how depression so easily causes a person to step back from the whole social scenes) but, He taught me that there is nothing to blame unless I wanted to blame Him for the way He made me. For the way He made me when it comes to socializing and the friendship style I was created to be.


    But who am I kidding? I don’t know if I would really want for all of those people to be dropping in and out so often. I’m not sure if I would be up for often phone, sadly only because I would be expecting them. *Sounds so harsh when I say that.
    I’m talking about those same people who know me quite well and my family too, and I know them back the same way, and we all like each other quite nicely.
    I had to let go of the ‘what if’s’ …I would question myself if things would be different if I didn’t have depression. Yet, God draws me back to this: it just isn’t the way God was leading our friendships in the first place regardless of the masks I wore -they were never meant to go further. It’s not about them and it is not about me. …I don’t know if I really would want for them to be dropping in so often, I’m not sure if I would be up to often phone calls after all.


    Once I had to start sorting out ‘friends and friendships’ (And I have to say that I still find myself falling in traps of how “I” think things should be, of getting my feelings hurt, and even me becoming angry with someone) …It is hard for me to accept “me” as who I am but when I started to it released me from having to wear the mask, what a relief! Now the few friendships that I do have ALL know about my illness. These ARE the people that I know I wouldn’t become uneasy about when they wanted to drop in and out while I am sick, or to get on the phone with to chat about me and about them when I am sick.
    And when I am well not one of them feels awkward or tip-toeing around me, or tries to change me, and they are not to nervous or afraid to ‘get in my business’ when I become down for to long. And they are not even hurt when I do need the quiet- when they realize that a short visit, or no phone call for ‘now’ is what I actually need from them. ((the friendships I value today are not the perfect friendships in the world and certainly not to be the only how-to-be friends model))

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    1. I never dreamed that I would have down-to-earth friends like this. I never dreamed that it wouldn’t be until I was in my mid-thirties that I would actually start to begin to understand what a real friend is, *notice the word ‘begin’. I never dreamed that they would be older than me. I never imagined that friends don’t have to call one another every single day- and especially if a week had gone by if we haven’t talked- Take away the phrase ‘’True friends are the ones that can go so long without talking and it seems as only yesterday that you just talked,” …no, in my world view of friends (that was wrong) I believed it this way “You have to worry if so-and-so is still my friend because I haven’t heard from her in two whole weeks. And I have to worry if so-and-so still likes me because life has been happening and I haven’t been able to call her in two weeks now!”
      So glad the Lord busted my world view of friendship!! That was way too much responsibility that was never mine, nor a friend of mine to have to carry in order to make sure we stay friends. The things I appreciate about these friends of mine is that there is no worry about such things- these are friendships that accept not only each other but each others lives as well.

      ***Ugh, I’m sorry, I probably just sounded all about ME!!!
      I don’t claim to say I understand every single thing that you write about in this post. But, maybe even if only one thing will add to something good for you to hear- well, I hope that might happen.

      I am still keeping you in my prayers, Lisa.
      Even though we are only bloggy friends I want with all of my heart for the Lord to heal you up soon and very soon.
      With Love, Deanna
      PS- I just got ta’ typing away….so long!!!!

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    2. OH MY Gracious....
      I forgot something ...
      Amen about Joy.
      I believe it the same way :)

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    3. I appreciate your full explanation of what a friend means to you...What I took from everything you just wrote was that there is not one 'model' of friendship..but God, who made us who we are, has fashioned for us the type of friends that we need...each of us unique.
      No, I would not be able to handle someone coming by everyday or the phone ringing off the hook...and neither would Jeff...In fact, the way we have lived our lives has made our friendships what they are today.
      I am just worried about this one friend in particular who is avoiding me now...She struggles with clinical depression, and I am afraid she thinks she will possibly lose me to this disease even though I have tried to reassure her that my prognosis is good...besides, any one of us could be called home at any time even if we are healthy...we can't live life avoiding people we love because we are afraid we might lose them...But this is something I must discuss with her.
      I am so blessed with my bloggy friends as well as my other best friend who lives in Ohio who even though we had not talked for years...when we talked recently, we both marveled at how we picked up right where we left off...we both said how we have always thought about one another every single day, and our love had never diminished even though our communication did...So, I do have that kind of friend...And she is also my niece (her mom is Jeff's sister!) She is only 11 months younger than me and we went to high school together...and she introduced me to Jeff! Cool huh?
      Love you, my friend...
      P.S: You are wise for being in your mid thirties :)

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  10. haha, well thanks for that compliment as I am in my mid-thirties:)
    What a very best friend indeed that she introduced you to the love of your life!!
    I will keep your friend with the depression in my thoughts for prayer:)
    Bless you!!!! Love you, Deanna

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