Saturday, September 1, 2012

How to Earn BFF Status: Authentic Friendships

"A friend loves at all times" Proverbs 17:17


If you're anything like me, those little letters inspire a blast to the past.  I remember passing notes back and forth in 5th grade, sealing them with the stamp of my multi-colored markers, boldly proclaiming BFF all over the page.

Best Friends Forever.

Life is so simple when you're in 5th grade, isn't it?  You are free to dream, free to imagine, free to live toward a future that is so easy and care-free.  Free to enter into relationships, believing with all your heart that they will last forever.

But then life happens.  And you grow up.  And you realize that real, everlasting friendships require much, much, more than passing notes after Math class and sharing a peanut butter sandwich at lunch.


I'm re-learning the art of making friends in this season of my life.  I'll be entering into the world of 30 next year, and I never thought that the topic of friendships would still be such a discovery to me at this stage.  I'm learning that sometimes friendships do, "just happen", as they did in the simplicity of 5th grade, but that most of the time- they take a lot more work.

For the first time in my life I'm starting to see authentic friendships as a calling, one that God has been whispering to me about for a while.  I'm finally starting to take the time to listen.  Just like He's called me to my family, and my career...he's also called me to certain friendships.  People he has placed in my life to show me a little more of Himself.  I'm realizing,  that there's so much of who He is that I would be missing,  if I didn't take the time to look for it in the people He has put into my life. 

I'm learning how to build authentic friendships, because I want to experience God in every possible avenue that He gives me to see a little more of Himself.  Ironically, as I've been learning about this subject, I was asked to do a talk at a nearby college on the concept of Building Authentic Friendships.  I've been brainstorming what all of this means to me.  Here's a couple things that I've come up with: 

1. Identify who you're called to:  The older I get, the more I realize that my emotional capacity is much more limited than I ever thought it was.  After spending the day with my kids, the evening with my husband, there's only so much left that I have to give.  And that's not to mention work, parents, siblings, and my much needed emotional investment in my self. I don't know about you, but I used to see friendships as anything and anyone that I seemed to have something in common with or getting a long with.  But to be honest, that made for a very long list of people to hang out with and frankly, I was never able to keep up with all the work that entailed.  But now I'm realizing that beyond similarities and interests, authentic friendships have an element that runs much deeper. 

In order to have authentic friendships, they have to be more than a luxury, but a calling.  People who God has placed in your life, and you in theirs for this specific season of time.   When God calls you to something, you don't let go of it until He lets you.  You hold on to your friends, realizing that through this friendship God is shaping you, challenging you, encouraging you, and stretching you into the person He has called you to be. Since you only have so much to give, be sure you are giving it to the people God has called you to give it to.  And then give all that you possibly can.   

2. Invest in their lives:  It's funny, because making friends is kind of like dating all over again.  It takes planning, timing, and communicating.  It's a process of giving that is made up of time, energy, and emotions.  It's a deliberate act that comes in the form of serving, talking, giving, forgiving, and encouraging.  It takes a whole lot of work, and with that work comes a whole lot of risk.  It's always hard to give to someone, when you have no idea how much, if any, they will give back.  But this is why it is so important to feel that we are called into a friendship.  Because when God calls us to give, He will give us the energy and the strength to keep on giving, even through the bumps and bruises that may come along the road of friendship.  

3. Invite them into yours: This has been the hardest part for me along the journey of friendship.  I find it easier to give, to serve, and to encourage- then to allow someone to do these things for me.  But I'm learning to accept the friendship of others in my life, and to live in the calling they feel toward me.  Inviting authentic friendship into your life means just that.  Opening your world to them.  Letting down your guard.  It requires an authentic and transparent look at who you really are, rather than who you want to be, and allowing your friends to see just that.  It calls for a genuineness that has no room for competition, jealousy, or envy- but rejoices in the prize of being real.

I'm thankful for the friends God has called me to in this season of my life.  Friends who have come along side me rejoicing with me through the highs of life, and mourning with me through it's lows.  I want to learn to live authentically and to give whole-heartedly, because in this kind of relationship I catch a beautiful glimpse of the heart of Jesus.

A Friend who loves fiercely, and gives sacrificially.  Lord, help me to be this kind of friend.       


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