She could hear the weariness and desperation in her friend’s voice and knew she needed more than a phone conversation so she extended an invitation to come over for the afternoon. Within a short time, her friend arrived and as she walked inside the house she was enveloped by the warm and inviting aroma of fresh cinnamon buns baking in the oven. The tension slowly began to subside as she received a comforting hug from her host. As they made their way to the kitchen she saw several large piles of laundry that were waiting to be done. Suddenly she turned to her friend with a look of embarrassment and said, “Oh no, this is your laundry day isn’t it?” Her friend simply smiled and said, “I can do laundry any day, but you needed a friend today”.
So much truth packed into such a simple story, maybe this why I remembered it all these years later. This post is, in some ways, a follow up to the one I wrote two weeks ago, entitled, “Fishing and Friendship” While that post discussed how we need to open up in order to have friends and put forth the effort, this one will take a little deeper journey on how to be a friend and what it requires from us.
Friendship does not happen, it takes work in order for a relationship to form and requires us to invest ourselves personally. Friendship cannot succeed if it is one-sided, where only one is giving and the other merely taking. Here are a few things I believe are necessary to being a successful friend.
Time ~ limited supply
If something is limited it tends to have a greater value. Time is something that comes in limited supply, we are given a mere 24 hours a day to accomplish so much. When you minus the five to eight hours we spend sleeping and another eight to ten hours working a job we are left between eight to ten hours to do everything else we need. That is not a lot of time to get things done around the house and prepare for the next day not to mention spending time with your family. Because of this, it is understandable that we tend to hoard what we want to do with the small amount remaining. Everyone needs some time to themselves but there will be moments when a decision has to be made. One that requires us to put our own wants aside in order to do what is needful. The lady in the story understood what was important and her actions illustrate this point beautifully. Even though her laundry was something that was necessary for her household she realized that her friend had a greater need. Something like laundry can be done at any time but an opportunity to be a blessing and needed encouragement to a friend, someone God sent your way, may only happen once. Because time is limited, it is valuable, which means that whatever we choose to spend it on reveals what we value. If we choose to spend the majority of our time on us and our own wants we could be guilty of selfishness. I feel that it is important for me to say that we all need a little time away, a time where we can collect our thoughts, regroup and recharge ourselves. I came across this interesting statement, “caring without wearing”. Meaning that there comes a point when we need to spend time recharging ourselves and immersing in the word of God so that we can continue to minister to others. Jesus spent the majority of his life caring for the needs of the people but there were moments when he stepped away from the crowd in order to recharge Himself with His Father. So yes, I do believe in some “me” time but it should not be all the time.
Love, our foundation
A true friend cares deeply for others, they are willing to go the extra mile and be with you, they bear your burdens as if they were their own. We are commanded to bear one another’s burdens so it is not an option. Yet so often we don’t want to learn about someone else load because that means we are responsible to help in some way but that goes back to having a selfish attitude. I know that life can be overwhelming and you feel that you have enough to bear yourself but would our own burden be so heavy if we all helped each other bear their burdens?
There is an old saying that I stumbled upon that goes “a joy shared is a joy doubled, a sorrow shared is a sorrow halved. I loved this saying so much. When we share our joy it is indeed doubled but when we share a sorrow it is halved because it is no longer ours alone to bear. To love is to care enough to do something. Love is the foundation of our faith, without it we are nothing. Paul said in 1 Corinthians 13:1-3, “Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing.” To love our God is the greatest command but the second is like unto it, to love our neighbor as ourselves, in fact, it is how others know that we belong to God. “By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another” John 13:35. If we do not show love to each other how can we reach a lost world with the love of God? We make a difference when we love those that God has brought into our lives especially those we choose to call our friend.
Effort ~ are we willing?
Someone once said that there are several types of friends. There are some that walk with you in your journey, some that stand alongside and cheer you on. Yet there are those that not only walk with you, cheer you on, but they also remove the obstacles from your path. I believe that this is what is meant when we are to encourage one another. We should look for opportunities to help another out especially our friends. A true friend is one who lays aside their own needs to help someone else. We are called to walk with one another, to help each other reach their best but that requires an effort on our part. It means that we take the time to learn about our friends so that we are aware of how we can help them. It means that we go outside of our comfort zone to show that we care. Sending someone an encouraging text or mailing a card that says our friend was on our mind can make more difference than we ever know. Are we willing to lay aside ourselves and put another first, like the lady in the story who waited another day to do her laundry in order to listen to her friend's need. As I mentioned before in my previous article, anything that is worth having requires effort and friendship is no different. The question is are we willing to put the effort into it that is required?
The eternal investment
In short, to be a friend is not a side job, it compels us to be sensitive to the needs of those God has placed in our care. To be a friend is to be present, to take the time to listen to their sorrows and share in their joys. It means we lay aside our own wants and desires to care for someone else. We will always put the effort and time into what we love so why not pour it into something eternal, into what God does?
I have a friend who did this for me. My mom and I found a kitten and were not sure what to do with it. I called my friend and she came after work, helped me wrangle the kitten into a carrier and drove with me to the vet’s office. She stayed with me throughout the visit then drove back home with me to make sure everything was okay. She also fostered my cat because I was not allowed to have pets in my rental. She was a true friend, at a time when I needed one. People are eternal and what we pour into them is never wasted. Taking the time to care could mean the difference in someone’s life and be the encouragement they desperately needed. May we always be willing to lay aside our laundry baskets, bake some cinnamon buns and be a blessing to those who need us the most, it could make more of a difference then we will ever know.
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I am just an ordinary girl who is loved by an extraordinary God and I seek to love others the same way. I love to bake, read, do puzzles, watch Hallmark movies, and go shopping with my mom! This blog was created as a place where I could share some thoughts that the Lord has shown me and to be an encouragement to others who desire to know Him in a deeper way. My prayer is to learn to sit still and trust God with my future.