The Four Myths of Friendship

I once believed in the lie of Disney channel friendship.

I looked around me as a middle schooler, a teen, a college student, and then a young mom praying over my life, asking God to send me the friend that everyone else seemed to have. I wanted real friendship, real investment.

Then I found myself praying the same thing over my heartsick nine-year-old daughter, who also longed for this mysterious friendship.

God did answer my prayers, but not in the way I expected. Instead, he removed the scales and opened my eyes.

We all long for a good friend. We are all crafted as different individuals. We have different needs and different personalities. Some of us search for companionship and intimacy more than others, but friendship is a deep human need. Between practicing therapy and life in the church I have found a flaw in Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. Most people I have met would take a good friend over food any day. Survival is significant, but connection is part of that survival, not a secondary system.

Still, friendship is hard and complicated and the lies of friendship prevail, swirling around us. I talk to teens and adults all the time that express a desire to have one of these things in a friend:

One really good friend, preferably who lives next door and occasionally brings you chocolate or wine for no good reason

A friend you don’t have to tell your backstory to, someone that just “gets” you and instinctively “knows”

A friend who never makes you feel bad by bringing up your flaws

or a friend that calls first, that magical unicorn of an individual who picks up the phone and reaches out instead of you having to do it all the time

This is our cultural idea of friendship.

This is often how we define “besties”, “mates”, or “bff’s” whether we are eight or forty-eight. We may not struggle with friendship the way we did when we were 13, but somewhere inside of us, most of us will continue to struggle with unrealistic ideas about friendship our whole lives, because life is a journey of learning, not a destination of knowing. We will always be walking this journey of trying to understand relationships until heaven meets us here on earth. The moment we stop learning about relationship is the moment our relationships suffer. They will lack what is real, what is honest.

We would be fooling ourselves if we didn’t recognize there is at least a little bit of a spiritual battle in there somewhere sorting through friendship. To love well, to love often, to love first, to love more – these are the things of God, of course the devil would like to destroy them, mangle them, or rearrange them.

I say this as one warrior on this journey to another – the cultural lies of friendship are keeping us from real friendship.

Today we call out four myths of friendship so we can claim real friendship:

The myth of one best friend – this is awesome, but exceedingly rare, and tv makes it look as common place as tomatoes in salsa. Most of us adults, either set the idea of a best friend aside for a few really awesome friendships because we refuse to compare apples and oranges much less the people we love. Or we have an amazing friend that we confide all our hopes and dreams in but they likely live three states away, so we have to be creative and use Facetime a lot and it’s just still not all slumber parties and clay face masks.

The myth of a friend who just “knows” – this is as destructive as expecting our spouse to read our minds. No one reads minds, except for Jesus, and the Bible tells us He’s a friend like no other, so that makes sense. Friendship is about knowing, deep intimate knowing, and it’s really awesome when your friend sends you Star Wars undergarments because she “knows,” but she didn’t read your mind. Instead, you had conversations and shared details and listened and took notes. It takes time to build friendship, and effort, and more sacrifice than reward. It takes hard stuff happening like loss and transition and life change to get to the good stuff and they still won’t just magically know. This is a hard realization.

The myth of the friend who calls so you don’t have to – it’s nice to get a phone call. (Or if you’re like me, a text, because all my friend’s know I don’t answer my phone.) It’s nice to be invited places, but so many of us miss out on genuine friendship because we are waiting to be invited. When you look around you and long for a friend, I have found that God’s answer is usually “lean in.” By this I mean, we have to be willing to call, to text, to invite, and to ask in, because most other people are waiting to be asked in as well. If we stand around and wait, we may be standing around a very long and lonely time. It’s nice to be invited, yes, but it’s better to friend, to reach out, because that’s where the good stuff is, the worthwhile, and God works there with an authenticity we would miss otherwise.

Last, the myth of a friend who never points out your flaws. Lord, at 38-years-old I do not want this person in my life. I want friends who tell me I’m beautiful, friends who tell me “well done,” but I also want friends who say, “I forgive you” because that means we’ve been our real selves going through real stuff together. I don’t want harsh friends, hurtful friends, or mean girls in my life, but I do want to give my friends permission to be awkward by being a little awkward myself, permission to mess up by messing up myself, and friends who are full of grace which means I have to give them a reason to share grace in this life.

Real friendship, this is the goal. It isn’t easy. It isn’t simple. It doesn’t happen overnight, but it can happen and it starts with His love, tucked inside of you.

(Learn more about real friendship, real relationship, and what is really beautiful in both in Altogether Beautiful.)

Written in Iron Ink: Tending Marriage

Recently I was reading a book that cited this staggering statistic:

Couples, on average, spend a total of twelve minutes a week in meaningful conversation.

12 minutes

There aren’t enough emojis with bulging surprise eyes in the world for me to put in the space after I share this stat.

12 minutes may be skewed and you may be different.

However, it’s time to care about marriage, not just our own, but one another’s.

For too long we have existed on privacy island and it’s not working. We need one another. Your marriage, your neighbor’s marriage, my marriage needs you to care. We need accountability, encouragement, reality checks, free babysitting, someone to laugh with, someone to tell you when it’s time to apologize, someone to hug you and send you back in.

We are our best married selves, when we tend in this life.

We were meant to tend our own marriages but also to tend one another’s.

Our God tends to us. He came to earth for us. His Spirit resides in us. The Word is open to us. A God who tends does not leave us to our own devices. He gives us unique community far and wide to be real with, to open our hearts to, and to cheer on. Because our God tends, we can tend.

In today’s podcast, join in a fun and feisty chat about tending, with myself and Leah Heffner from Life Around the Coffee Cup. She doesn’t have easy answers, which I think we all appreciate. She does have loads of usable ideas and resources to keep the conversation going.

This podcast is more than twelve minutes…because we can spend more than twelve minutes on marriage today. We can do it!

There isn’t a checklist to relationships.

There isn’t an instruction manual for our spouse.

There isn’t a do-it-yourself guide for helping your friend love when it’s hard and when to tighten the boundary lines.

There is Jesus. There is the Word. There is the Church, community, and connection.

Let us tend…together.

Share ideas! How do you tend in your marriage or help tend a marriage around you?

PS- the book I was reading was What the Most Successful People Do Before Breakfast

 

So Good, I Think I’ll Keep It to Myself (My Redeemer Lives 7:4)

When you live in a large family, you hide your chocolate.

You hide your Doritos, your raspberries, your Oreos, and maybe even your steak too, but you definitely hide your chocolate, because it matters most.

What do you love enough to hide…mostly from your children, maybe from your roommate, maybe from your labradoodle? What do you tuck away because it’s so good you really want to save it for yourself?

Sometimes I wonder if the Gospel is just so good, that we tend toward the same line of thinking.

It’s so good, we think we might just save it for ourselves.

I’m not saying that we are consciously thinking, “Self, don’t share the Gospel,” but I wonder how much of the devil’s tiny mind tricks play on our subconscious. There are probably many and various things keeping us from sharing Truth in Love with our neighbor, but maybe there’s even a tiny, tiny piece of us deep down that wonders if we share it, whether there will be enough. Will the grace run out? Will the specialness that God sees me with run out? And the more transparent questions —

What if I take it and do it wrong? What if I mess up the Gospel?

Will I run out of all that is good in me, if I open myself up to another person?

In Mark 16:5-8 we find out that the women who went to take spices to Jesus’ tomb might have had similar feelings

And entering the tomb, they saw a young man sitting on the right side, dressed in a white robe, and they were alarmed. And he said to them, “Do not be alarmed. You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has risen; he is not here. See the place where they laid him. But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going before you to Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.” And they went out and fled from the tomb, for trembling and astonishment had seized them, and they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid.

They were afraid. Fear does crazy things to us. We aren’t going to tackle the concept of fear today; instead, we’re going to look at how God treats fear, where He is in all our questions and our concerns of “not enough,” and try to move past holding all the good stuff close to us and instead spreading it out like wildfire.

Do you think the Gospel writer Mark put Mark 16:8 in there to shame the women, to let them know how they had failed? I don’t see that in keeping with the rest of the book and the honor brought to these women by sharing their stories of that first Easter morning at the empty tomb. Rather, the Holy Spirit decides what details are penned through the personalities and the particular witness of each Gospel writer.

What does 2 Peter 1:16-21 teach us about every word written in pages of those Gospel books and the rest of God’s Word?

16 For we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. 17 For when he received honor and glory from God the Father, and the voice was borne to him by the Majestic Glory, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased,” 18 we ourselves heard this very voice borne from heaven, for we were with him on the holy mountain. 19 And we have the prophetic word more fully confirmed, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts, 20 knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation. 21 For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.

The Word is God’s, first and foremost. Notice 2 Peter 1:19 above again:

And we have the prophetic word more fully confirmed, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts…

That Word is a Lamp in dark places.

Those dark places are sometimes someone else’s, but they are also our own.

Christ’s resurrection shines light into the darkness of our hearts and sees that we also have fear. I think that at least part of the reason God shares the full story with us of these women hiding the Gospel, keeping their mouths closed, trembling in shock, is because He wants us to know that He knows.

He knows our lack. He knows the Gospel can be intimidating at times—so big, so awesome that we don’t quite know what to do with it.

He knows that resurrection is intimately connected to death and that can make it uncomfortable.

He knows that we wonder about failing ourselves, our loved ones, our world.

He knows that sometimes things seem so far from restoration that we think it’s maybe not even worth trying.

He knows that sometimes the night seems longer than it should be and sometimes the plan seems confusing and not what we expected.

He knows that we are waiting and we have questions.

He knows we need to eat, sleep, and breathe Hope from sun up to sun down and we simply cannot live without it.

He knows that we are made to witness, but we need one another as witnesses, for strength, for perseverance, for insight, and for confidence.

He knows each of us. He died and rose for each of us.
That fact alone makes it uncontainable.

Just like the women at the tomb, we eventually find our fears and our concerns filled with faith. Sit quiet for just a moment and read Mark 16:6. Breathe in and breathe out the words to yourself aloud.

And he said to them, “Do not be alarmed. You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has risen; he is not here. See the place where they laid him.

This is resurrection, my friend. This is the Word at work in you. Let it ease into your pores and bring new life to your soul.

He is risen.

That’s all you need share. Those three words. Next time your friend shares a struggle, take their hand and tell them, “He is risen. He rises. That’s Who He is. He takes dead things, decaying things, and brings life.” The next time you see something joyous, say it — “He is risen. He rises. That’s Who He is. He brings all the life, everywhere He goes.” Pray it over one another when the resurrection is hard to see and when the resurrection comes and transforms hearts and lives.

We will rise with Him, when He comes back for us.

One day, not too far and not too long away, we’ll say, “He is risen!” to His beautiful, glorious, uncontainable face. We will have hands to touch Him, heads to lean against Him, and mouths to let out peals of laughter with Him. Won’t that be the day? Oh, my.

In the meantime…He is risen is our anthem. He is risen is our banner. He is risen is our war cry. He is risen is our cheer.

Don’t stop looking for resurrection now, friends. When you see it, simply say —

He is risen, just like He said.

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Don’t miss a bonus final study post next Monday! There will be a special surprise and an announcement to reveal the I Love My Shepherd Fall Online Study.

 

 

Today we celebrate the Resurrection! Tomorrow we Rest in the Resurrection. What special thing can you do to remember the Resurrection today or this weekend with family and friends? I know we just had Easter, but what if we surprised the world with a little Easter everyday? 😉