Tag Archives: friendships

Nothing Else in the World

I never questioned her loyalty until that day. Since the time I purchased her, Lily, my German Shepherd, had developed endearing qualities to proclaim her loyalty. One of my favorites always remains the time she and my husband, Richard, were walking through our neighborhood. Driving past them on my way home from the grocery store, I stopped for a second to call out a hello. With that accomplished, I resumed driving home until in my rearview mirror, I noticed Lily hated my departure. She was pulling my husband up the hill in attempt to catch up with me. In order to prevent Richard from having a heart attack, I stopped and waited until both were in the car.

On that day at the doggie park, Lily wasn’t showing any loyalty. It was her favorite spot on earth, and she did not want to leave. So instead of obeying my command to come, she bolted away. For over 15 minutes, I pleaded with her to obey or at least get close enough for me to grab her collar. She was so disobedient that even went I left her alone in the park, she wouldn’t come to the gate so we could go home.

I sometimes can see myself in Lily’s behavior. I have a tendency to want my own way, to be disloyal to my friends when it suits me. Which isn’t to say I’m a back-stabbing traitor. No, it means sometimes I miss out on the joys of being a reliable friend.

Lily and I have a strong bond, yet she hurt me. I wanted her close by me, to listen to what I said, to enjoy following me. That’s what friends do. You stick close by, you listen to what your friend says, you laugh when they laugh and cry when they cry. Being a loyal friend means your relationship makes you stronger than you would be without it. You love harder, laugh louder, live richer and become more together than you could ever be by yourselves.

This isn’t for the faint of heart, much like trying to train a dog – which I sadly found out that day. Life is full of twists and turns and staying in step with someone else is not easy. We struggle to be vulnerable to another especially when the way we want to go isn’t the same as our friends. We battle with ways of feeling safe, secure and significant with another all the while trying to get our own needs met. We tend to want our hurts to be addressed rather than helping others through theirs. It is so difficult to lay your heart into someone’s hands and say, “I trust you with all of this,” and have that person do the same.

There are times in our friendships when we must heed to the other person’s instructions. Lily lacked the perspective I did. A treat was awaiting her at home, along with her dinner and an evening of warm snuggles. It was time to leave the park to enjoy some of these other delights.

Proverbs 18: 24 tells us, “One who has unreliable friends soon comes to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.” Friendships never just happen – they are forged. They are knit together by leaning into each other, by staying close, by experiencing life’s bitter and sweet moments together. And it means standing by one another even when disappointment sets in.

I eventually got a leash on Lily and we went home to an enjoyable evening. Despite her unfaithfulness, I remained loyal to her, but I learned to create a fulfilling friendship, sometimes you have to work at it – sometimes you have to chase after it. It’s worth it, because being close to another human being matters like nothing else in the world.

Craving A Word

As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, my God. Psalm 42:1

Every night, we’d wait for them. Enjoying the coolness of a northern Michigan evening, my fellow campers would quiet ourselves and wait for the deer to relinquish their hiding places and come to the river for water. It was a highlight of our deer-waterday. The river shimmering in the setting sun seemed to welcome the approaching hush of the forest night. There would be slight movement, a quiet rustling and then timidly, the deer would free themselves from the lush foliage and approach the water’s edge. Once there, they would lower their heads down to the cold water and drink to their hearts content.

Their actions brought Psalm 42:1 alive for me. The deer fought back every fear of exposure to come to the river and drink their fill. How I long to crave God the same way they craved those unhurried sips of water!

God wants us to desire His presence. He won’t tell you about His dreams for your life until He knows you yearn to listen to His voice, to follow His footsteps for the rest of your days. He doesn’t want a debate. He didn’t put you on Earth just so you could say, “Let me think about it.”

No, hearing from God has got to be a necessity just like water is to the deer. You have to say, “God, let me know what You want me to do. I want to hear Your voice. I’ve got to hear it. I yearn to understand what Your vision is for me.”

King David wrote in the book of Psalms, “My God I want to do what you want” and “What I want most of all and at all times is to honor your laws” (Psalm 40:8, Psalm 199:20).

David was passionate in his declaration that what he wanted most was to honor God. It was the deepest desire of his heart. He used words for seeking the presence of God like, “I long for it, “ “I crave it,” “I hunger for it.” And my favorite, as you already know, “I’m like a deer panting for water.”

When you still yourself much like my fellow campers did to watch the deer in the glooming, you are going to hear from God.

That’s because while many people talk to God, but they never hear from God. They make prayer a monologue. You can’t have a relationship with God when it is so one-sided. Relationship only happens through conversation. You talk, then you listen. Just as important as talking to God in prayer is listening to God. You have to still yourself to heard His words. And in order to do that, you’ve got to want it so badly your heart pants for a word from Him.

Peace is a Matter of Perspective

When a mind is stayed on the Lord, peace is ours. That’s what the topic of the panel discussion was at Leadership Training that morning. Let me be perfectly frank: I’m not a big fan of panel discussions. I’ve been to many conventions and conferences. It is extremely rare I come away with great insight from a panel discussion. Whenever one is on the agenda, I tend to hit the snooze button. This one was different.

It wasn’t so much of a discussion as it was 5-minute talks by 5 different women explaining on how they found peace in their lives. They each had a unique story to tell and that’s what caught my attention. Good stories have the ability to transform hearts, stimulate imagination and inspire people. Stories ask questions and inspire conversations. Stories entertain us and make us laugh. More importantly stories open our minds to ideas that might be unfamiliar to us.

But there was one woman whose story grabbed me so much I want to share her wisdom.

Each of us has over 50,000 automatic thoughts each day. If we let negativity creep into those automatic thoughts, we’ll never have peace. So, we must be careful our thoughts uplift and encourage us. She had a simple, daily 5-step process to accomplish this. The steps are hers, the verbiage is mine.

  1. Each morning say a quick surrender prayer to God. Do this before sunriseyou even get out of bed or kneel beside your bed as soon as you get out of it. Lift up the day to God, surrendering all you will do to Him. Remind yourself of God’s promises to protect you, to use you for His glory and to always be with you as you move throughout your day. Every great victory begins with prayer.
  2. Write down gratitudes every day. Researchers have found if you scan for positive things in your life, your brain trains itself to see even more.  Sometimes we get entangled in bad habits, destructive behaviors and fear. But if we turn into God with an attitude of gratitude, He can wash away our wounds.
  3. Journal right. Many of my friends are not into journaling. I love it because it helps me experience the freedom and healing that only comes from being reconciled to God. Make it easy: just expand on your gratitudes. When I quiet myself to write down what makes me thankful, I turn to God, who is reaching out to heal me. Jesus is the One who give us strength. Don’t ever get caught in the trap of turning away from God. If you aren’t the type to put pen to paper, spend time every day thinking and meditating on all the wonderful ways God showed you His love.
  4. Complete a daily act of kindness. We can assure a brighter future by practicing profound kindness. There are times, often in the face of no easy solutions, when we restore each other with the strength of our kindness. This act need not be large or daunting; it can be just a simple as sending out a short text complimenting a friend. Start practicing: say ‘thank you’ to as many people as you can today, hand out as many compliments as you can, maybe even wave at as many truck drivers you see today.
  5. Movement – Each day, get your body into motion. It will enliven your spirit and replenish your heart. It could be taking a walk to soak in the beauty of nature or something even smaller like hugging someone who wouldn’t expect it.

Peace grows in our hearts when we share our love with others with our eyes locked on Jesus. The world may be divisive and seek to destroy our peace, but what changes our world is sharing and giving away His amazing grace. We get more peace when we spread it through our love.

The world can wear you down, even on good days. Yet, peace is not only possible, it is available in abundance through Christ. Learn to be so intimate with Christ, people will want to imitate you.  Peace only comes when a mind stays focused on God.