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...