Saturday, May 5, 2012

Talking to College Girls on Friendship.

I was honored when Becca Jane aka Bex (I think that is too funny!) asked me to speak at the OCF retreat this year.  I knew I was going to talk on friendship as ya''ll know it's the area God has really challenged me in.

I also didn't want to go there sounding super spiritual and "better than though".  I really wanted to reach these girls and let them know, I struggle in many of the things they struggle with.

I also took a craft for us to do!  How fun is that?!  Well, I thought it was fun...

 Friendship bracelets anyone?!

The girls only saw the strands that had color and picked a few they liked and then sat down.  Here is what I had to ware!  I may have cussed a wee bit ;)

I am a friend.  You are a friend.  I have friends.  You have friends.  Let’s talk about that. 

Over the past year or so, God has been speaking to me about the relationships in my life, specifically my friendships.  It started about a year ago and although I didn’t realize it then, I can look back and see areas in my life I needed an overdose of God’s grace through wisdom on how I ‘could be’ and ‘needed to be’ a better friend.
The funny thing about God pouring wisdom in our lives is that once we stop fighting it or quiet our lives enough to hear it, we then have to apply the wisdom.  Ugh.  Really?  God, just stop right there.  This is too hard. 

For me, the hard part was as I finally caught on to God (6 months later) and I realized he wasn’t telling all my friends these same things.  It made me feel like throwing a massive pitty party and inviting all of my friends so I could tell them how difficult they're making my life by not being as good as I am being told by God I have to be.  'Can’t you see where you SUUUUCK in our friendship?'  'I can’t really tell you because I am supposed to be looking at my own life but I’m too busy looking at how much you SUUUCK in our friendship.'
Have you been there?  Done that? 

OR another area God ‘oh so graciously’ highlighted sin in my life was when I went to have a quiet time, by myself and read God’s word like a good little pastor’s wife should,  I caught myself highlighted verses while pointing fingers at different people in my life (or in my FB life) and wanted to Tweet them so certain people in my FB world would read them and be convicted.  This is recently, girls.  I am not going to pretend this was a couple of years ago…I’m still.learning!  

I’m going to ask you, no I am going to beg you to let God speak to YOU tonight.  I know you have people in your life who are at fault.  But today, God is sending me to speak to you.  Not to them.  So just listen.  Let’s invite the Spirit to move in our own hearts today so we can learn to be the best friends with the time we are given.


Girls, we can be, as my husband oh so perfectly calls it, crazy-psycho-bitches.  *crickets* I do not care if you are known as the nicest girl in the crowd because I was known for that, too.  Now I’m just known for being the loudest and most honest. ;)  Not always a good thing.

Anyway, girls are catty!  We get jealous which God calls a sin.  We ASSume the worst.  We are rarely ‘for” each other.  OH!  And instead of talking about our hurts with each other, we just get all passive aggressive hoping you’ll catch on but when you don’t, it’s straight to the phone to text about it to your other friend and gossip sets in.

Don’t worry girls.  It gets better when you get married and become a mom.  We don’t deal with silly things like this.  Our stuff is way more important.  Like on a play date when her kid took something from my kid.  It goes down like this.

 “Hey Jan!  Um, isn’t it so cute how our kids are playing over there?”  My pits start to sweat and my heart is practically beating out of my chest and I’m praying a full moon isn’t coming because I may just start howling. “I be-leeeve my Johnny had the ball first.  But it’s okay!  Oh, your Jacob is just so STINKING CUTE!  I CANT STAND IT!”

Sorry ladies, it’s a woman thing and until you ask God to take a good look at your heart in the friendship department, all this stuff carries right on into being married and having kids.  Having kids just brings out the momma bear in you.

Alright.  Let’s talk about the two kinds of friends you should not be.  Won’t this be fun?! ;)

The Suspicious Friend.  This is the girl in your life who you never know what she is thinking because she doesn’t open up.  You feel like you have to walk on eggshells around her never knowing when she’ll crack!  It may seem she's holding on to every word and ready to medicate you with why you do what you do.  So.Annoying.  There's no freedom there.

Feel me? 

The Bitchy Friend.  I said the B word again but honestly, you can’t talk about women, to a bunch of women without throwing it out there at least a few times ;) No one wants to be around this friend because all they do is make everyone around them feel bad and inferior.

Both of these types of friends are trying to exhort power.  One is, aggressive-aggressive and the other is passive aggressive.   

Ladies, lets vow to not be either.  We all struggle sometimes but if you catch yourself acting like either of these two types of friends, call yourself out and move on. 

So, how can we avoid being these two types of friends?  How can we be a good friend? 

In order to be a good friend I’ve come up with five charactoristics that are easily found anywhere in the bible when looking up how to be Christ-like.   I would like you to think about each one and how God does these same things for you in your relationship with him.

1. Perseverance-  Friendships are so much fun at first!  Perseverance is necessary when some kind of bump comes along.  You know what I’m talking about.  Miscommunication, hurt feelings, life takes one friend down the path you wanted so badly for yourself, etc.  When you choose to persevere through the hard times, I promise, you’ll reap amazing benefits on the other end.  Don’t give up and move on to the next honeymoon phase with someone new or you’ll never know the sweetness on the other side.

**How does God persevere for you?

2. Grace- You and your friend are not the perfect match.  I may say Andy is perfect FOR me and he IS but together, we are not perfect.  Sorry, no two people are.  It doesn’t exist.  Your friend is going to let you down because they are human and you have and will let your friends down, too.  You’ve got to be willing to show Grace with each other and be okay with the beautiful differences you have.

**How is God showing you grace today?

3. Honesty.  This could also be labeled as Courage.  Are you being upfront and honest with your friends about how they have hurt you?  Maybe it’s about a struggle you are dealing with and need prayer? 

**There was a time I just kind of let things go but they ended up coming out one way or another.  Usually through anger and talking behind my friends’ back.  Not good.  Not okay.  Not of God.  Not Christ-like. 

This was the first way God opened my eyes to an area I needed work on.  So of course, I went all out…I went from keeping it in only to let it explode to telling my friends and family the areas that they were hurting me…I had very "little editing down" which isn't good, either. 

**How is God courageous for you?

4. Forgiveness.  As a friend, you must have room in your heart to forgive.  It doesn’t have to be right away.  But it does have to be genuine.  So if needed, take a few hours or no more than a day and pray and ask God to get you to a place where you can truly forgive your friend.

**God is ready to forgive.  Have you asked him?

5. Humility (a characteristic of God and one that ties all of these together)~  You can’t say you're sorry if you are not willing to see where you are at fault.  You cannot be willing apologize when you have all the reasons in the world why you do the things you do.  You can’t be willing to forgive if you are full of pride.  Humility is the opposite of pride and God calls us to it.

My point is, being a good friend isn’t a huge mystery!  The hardest part is to get over yourself and quit pointing your fingers at everyone else so you can let God lovingly tell you how you can be more Christ-like in your friendships!

I would love to go over all the areas God has opened my eyes to but we do not have enough time.  We have our craft to do!  *Please pass out white strands*

As the white strands are being passed out, I want to quickly touch on a few other areas that can be extremely vital in your current relationships and those who God is challenging you to reach out to…

1.Get to know what the real differences are between an introvert and extrovert.  Learn who you are and get to know who your friends and maybe even future friends are .  This will help you to understand how to better give your friends space when needed or how to better pursue your friends to make them feel loved.  It’s extremely important to know where they get their energy from and what sucks energy out of them.

2. Find out what it means to be an internal processor and an external processor.  What are you?  Apply the same effort in figuring out people in your life and give the opposite type of processor that you are, extra grace.  You may not like someone just because they process differently than you and that’s just plain silly.

***How are you processing life with God?  Both are accepted!  Just be real with him!

3. Love Language.  How do you receive love most.  How do your friends?
*They can change over time!  I used to be quality time when I was first married but now I need words of affirmation.  Like a lot.  Since we have discovered this, I am feeling a lot. 

***Read up on how God loves you, because he most definitely does!

4. Learn to communicate well in conflict.  Here is an exercise Andy and I were taught in premarital counseling and it's completely genius.  (I will blog more on this later) There is the issue (what ACTUALLY happened) and then there are feelings (what we REALLY FEEL!).  Be willing to talk on the feeling level first.  Share your feelings and listen to the others without addressing what actually happened.  Even if feelings seem wrong or ridiculous, their feelings or yours are very real.  Once both parties feel like they have been heard, move on to what actually happened in the issue level.  It’s a beautiful thing to come out of conflict well. 

Along these same lines, graciously talk about the things that need to be talked about.  On the counter, do not go to your friend with every little thing.  Yes, your friends ARE allowed to hang out with someone else without you.  It’s okay! You do not need to tell them every little hurt you have because most of the time, if they are really your friend, they are not trying to intentionally hurt you. 

I know I believe that lie far too much and so this is my most recent challenge from God which is “Humbly forget the things that do not need to be talked about.”  You do not want to become exhausting in the friendship instead of a breath of fresh air to your friend.  But, if everything they do is questioned by you, you indeed will.

**God, through His word, Jesus’ death and the Holy Spirit is constantly communicating with you.  Are you listening?

You have chosen for yourself a few strands of the pretty colors of friendship strands.  These colors that you chose represent the friends in your life that are easy to be around.  They represent those who you love to hang out with and do life with often.  But let me challenge you today.  Take this white strand which represents people in your life you are not willing to get to know because they either fail to fit your high standards in a friend, they are not cool enough, trendy enough, make you laugh enough...Maybe something about them makes you jealous.  As you create your friendship bracelet with ALL of the strands, you can see that even adding a strand that doesn’t jump out at you right away, it will still come together beautifully. 

God wants to use you and when you are willing to come along side those who are easy to be with AND those who cause you to work a little harder or dig a little deeper, you will accomplish more than you could ever dream for The Kingdom.  You really can be a warrior as a women, with the other women in your life.

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