To Everything There Is A Season

A Time For Every Purpose Under Heaven

A blog about raising a young family and keeping Christ at the center of it.

The Cyrs

The Cyrs
Photo Credit: Rachel Dewhurst

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

A Time for Friendship

Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down 
his life for his friends. ~John 15:13

Friends are people I feel we should all have. Friends, if chosen well, can be such a blessing. Some people, like myself, enjoy several close friends of all shapes and sizes. Others of you prefer to keep your close friends and confidants to a minimum. Some of you may even only have one person you would call a close friend. Whatever your preference, having friends is important. Even more important than having good friends is being a good friend. Some people are gifted in knowing how to be a good friend. Others, well, they need a little encouragement in this area. Since I have an over abundance of wonderful friends who have taught me so much about what it means to be a friend, I thought I'd share what I've learned. I would like to preface this by saying that the Bible teaches us clearly about friendship...the kinds of friends to look for and avoid as well as showing us that Jesus is THE friend and our example. This post isn't a Bible study on friendship...just some practical advice from a girl who thinks friendship is important and tries hard to be a friend worth having.

The first thing I've learned is that in order to be a good friend you need to be available. Trust me I know what you are thinking, "I don't have time to be there every time my friend needs me". I get it. I have a family and I am not able to just drop everything in an instant. Being available is more than just physically being there. Distance, for instance, would prohibit even the greatest of friends from being available physically. We live in a time where technology makes it easier than ever to be available. With things like texting, FaceTime & Skype, and email it is so manageable for us to be there for our friends even when distance and time prevent us from being able to hold a hand or give a hug. Being available just means you are willing to set some time aside from your busy schedule to make a phone call, send a quick text, write an email or Skype. This is especially important when you know your friend is going through a difficult or challenging time. I can't tell you how encouraging it is when I am having a hard day and I suddenly get a text from a friend letting me know they are praying for me. Or a friend I haven't heard from in awhile will send a card or email letting me know they've been thinking of me. Another thing I've learned is you need to learn what your friend's need. Have you ever heard of the book, "The Five Love Languages"? In it the author is speaking to married couples but I think it translates into all types of relationships. The 5 love languages are:
Words of Affirmation
Acts of Service
Receiving Gifts
Quality Time
Physical Touch
Knowing the ways in which the people you are in relationships with feel loved will help you be a better friend (and wife, sister, mother, etc.). For me my love language is Acts of Service with Quality Time a close second. I feel most loved when people give me their time (which is valuable) and help me with a task. I have friends who are amazing at making me feel loved. I have one friend who is always reminding me she will come over and help if I have a project to work on. Today in fact she was here helping me core, peel, and slice A LOT of apples that were given to me. It meant so much to me that she was willing to take time out of her day to spend it here with me chatting and working on something I desperately needed to get done yet could not have by myself. When my sister was recently here visiting for the week she made me feel loved by cleaning...every time I looked she was cleaning something that I
never have time to do like the oven. Another friend ALWAYS folds my laundry when she comes to visit. She doesn't even ask anymore. She sees it and does it automatically while we are chatting. These kinds of friends are a blessing and make me feel loved because that is my love language. Not that the other things on the list are not appreciated...they are very much appreciated. Because Acts of Service is my love language it is how I most easily show love. My first thought is to bring you a meal, watch your kids or help with a project. But that might not be my friends love language so its important that I learn what is so that I can be there for
them in a way that lets them know I care and makes them feel loved.
I've learned that being a good friend requires me to be accepting of others for who they are and not expecting them to change to suit my preferences. Do all of my friends and I think alike or act alike? No. How boring would that be! I had one friend say recently, "I thank God for each of you ladies, and the way our different personalities complement each other". Differences are good and we should be willing to accept our friends and love them for who they are. I'm thankful for my friends who are patient and gracious with my imperfect self and keep me around despite my undesirable qualities that I know at times drive them crazy!
Lastly, and maybe most importantly, I have learned that my children are watching me and the kind of friend I am to others will have an impact on them. I am their first example of what a friend is. Not because I am trying to be their friend, (that's a post for a different day), but because they see how I treat my friends, how I speak to them or about them and whether or not I make time for them. I am the first person who teaches them what a friend is and what it means to be a friend. I want my kids to make wise choices when it comes to choosing friends and I want my example to be one that they can emulate. I have found the best training they can get in learning to be a good friend is with their brothers and sisters. These are their first friends and learning to be a good friend to each other will give them just the practice they need to be a good friend to others.

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