Growing up my Mom used to tell me that I used the words “sorry” and “love” to the point they had no meaning. I truly didn’t understand how that was possible, or really what she meant. My Mom was not the best communicator, especially for being a woman. Sorry, men, no offense, but women do tend to be a little better at communication (not all but the averages are in our favor). Now as an adult I can understand how I overused the word “sorry” but still I am at a loss on the “love”. Maybe that is because I want to be loved so badly that every person I run into I feel an ample, and real, amount of love for them. It is the boundaries within this emotion that I must temper, refrain, control.
Much like the words “hate” and “friend”. My little Zachy, all of three, looks at a person and instantly he says, “She/he is my friend. Can I say hi to my friend?” We were in Carol Stream for a cross country race yesterday and there was a group of boys playing near the lake. The oldest was about 7 while the youngest was about 3. Instantly Zach started jumping up and down like a kangaroo being tickled, “Mom! Mom! Mom! There’s my friend! Can I go see my friend? Please?!” Oh the insistence of his nature touches my heart profoundly, but then I stop and realize that the situation was not right for him to go to three total strangers, so close to a lake, with my attention on the runners to allow him this little adventure into making friends. He did try to inchworm his way to where the boys were standing but the steel trap of a Mom’s senses stopped him cold. Though he is precocious he also knows the “Mom” look and when to not push the envelope.
It begs me to ask of myself, for Zach’s benefit, is he overusing the word “friend”. My older two boys mock him and say, “He thinks everyone is his friend.” And that is true. He does. What is so wrong about looking at a person, a complete stranger, and calling them friend?
I have scoured bible verses only to find that there is no “right” time to call a person a friend, only a time to walk away from one who will be the enemy of God. I like this verse:
“A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.”
A friend loves at all times does not say that you love only those that have earned your friendship. Here’s another one:
“This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you.”
“That you love one another as I have loved you” does not say to love only those that you have known and have earned your love. Though it goes on to say “you are my friends if you do what I command you” I interpret this to say that we will share the same values, the same morals, the same belief in God, and we will learn together, grow together; not that one will be subservient to the other as it clearly states “no longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you.”
Today Pastor Bill discusses Ecclesiastes 4:8-12:
8 There was a man all alone;
he had neither son nor brother.
There was no end to his toil,
yet his eyes were not content with his wealth.
“For whom am I toiling,” he asked,
“and why am I depriving myself of enjoyment?”
This too is meaningless—
a miserable business!
9. Two are better than one,
because they have a good return for their labor:
10 If either of them falls down,
one can help the other up.
But pity anyone who falls
and has no one to help them up.
11 Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm.
But how can one keep warm alone?
12 Though one may be overpowered,
two can defend themselves.
A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.
Wealth. That word, for me, and what I am teaching my boys, has a much different meaning than “rich”. Here the man’s eyes were not content with his wealth. That leads the student to understand this wealth is something that can be seen such as money and that it brings him little enjoyment. He works yet has nobody to share his work with, he is alone. For me this is not a rich man. Rich would bring that equation to a full circle for one must have value behind the wealth, someone or person’s to share such a gift with, to do good by his prosperity. Rich is the spirit with which he is living his life not the wealth defining his place in society.
Too many people today live for the “wealth” and skip the “richness” God would bring to you through honorable friends – “one falls down, one can help the other up,” “two lie down together, they will keep warm,” and “one may be overpowered two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.”
Friendship should be given fully, with immediate trust and honor. If the other turns their back on you, dishonors you, than they have proven to not be a worthy friend but the enemy disguised as a friend. There will be pain, but to let that pain be your guide as you walk into the next friendship will cause you to be less than a friend thus dishonoring your own values, dishonoring God.
Yea, mine own familiar friend, in whom I trusted, which did eat of my bread, hath lifted up his heel against me.
That is not to say that friends will always agree, nor that your closest of friends and you will not fight.
A friend loveth at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.
In the years I have grown to understand, or maybe accept, that a friend can be as close as a “brother” (or a sister), sometimes even closer. Thus we can have adversity within any close relationship but that adversity should not define the relationship as it should make it stronger, help us grow closer. To agree all the time would be to live as one person and then there is no growth, no challenge. To open your heart, as Jesus did with Judas, to share of your values, your morals, and your experiences, without prejudice, brings you closer to the life God has asked you to live. You cannot control how others will chose to live their lives, change the choices they make that can cause hurt to you or others, but you can offer forgiveness, understanding, patience, and love.
Being a good friend can be a challenge sometimes too. There is this part in all of us that does not want to be alone. We are considered a “pack animal” by design. And when we find friendships hard to come by we tend to hold tightly to the ones that are offered up. Sometimes to our own determent, questioning our own values or even at times leaving all our values to pass in order to fulfill this place in our hearts.
Then there are times that we are hurt so deeply by a friendship that was not honorable we reject others. We put ourselves into a glass bubble with no door and no oxygen. And in this bubble we pray it will not shatter because we do not want to feel the sting of betrayal again. This too will make God sad for it does not honor the gift he has given us, the gift of tending to others, caring for and about others, for in that we gain so much. Hence the saying, “give and take.” Both of which must be done with nobility and honor of intention to please God and live as a true friend, brother, and sister.
I have found that currently I am not necessarily living to what God would want. My pain runs deeply right now, and though I know I desire friendships and acceptance, that I desire to give of my knowledge and life, to share, I am unwilling to open up as I once had to others. I withhold. I say I am doing it to protect my children, and there is truth in that action, honor, as they are my dearest of friends, I also know that there is an element of solitude I seek to stop from any more pain infiltrating my life. Is this forever that I will opt to focus my friendship and energy within the walls of my home? Is this to say that I would not offer up love and compassion to others? I will reach outside my walls, daily, and willingly. I will give up empathy, compassion, the love with which God would instruct a friend to give to a friend. I will do it from within my glass bubble allowing only little glimpses of my more personal life.
So a friendship is offered. The restrictions are on me. Does this make me a good friend? I don’t know anymore. I think that the idea God has given of having friends and being a friend is in a place of hyperspace for me right now. Maybe, with time, I’ll revert to the gentle hearted, openly trusting person I once was. Regardless, if I can help guide my children to a place that would honor God’s teachings of friendship than I’ll believe I have done well.
My middle son, Eli, has felt the sting of Judas in his life. I watch, pained, as he pushes potentially good friends away for fear (in his own words) of being hurt again. At the tender age of 8 this should not be the tune of his march and I pray daily to God to give me the power, the strength, the words, and the encouragement to help lift him from this path for one that will serve better. That is my challenge as I myself walk this path with Eli. Maybe here is where my lesson lies. Maybe this is where my own pain will lend to prosperity and guidance for my sweetest son. And maybe in my pain a friendship of compassion will grow more deeply bonded with Eli. One that will guide him to a more enlightened place, with deeper, truer friendships both in giving and receiving.
So many lessons to be learned. I suppose that is why the bible is in chapters, as a life. I suppose that is why it wasn’t written in a day but through the course of a life taken much to soon.
May your friendships be blessed as your life is filled with hope, richness, and love.