Like faith, spiritual maturity (growth, development) is not for the weak or faint of heart. Have you ever got told? It’s bad enough when it’s family, a friend, or an acquaintance, but when you get told by the Holy Spirit, well…you really got told. It is my prayer–for myself, and for you–that we don’t get weary in seeking truth. The pursuit of truth is a mark of maturity and will be rewarded by God. I have no interest in surface living; I like the idea of being able to go deeper in the things of God. To that end, I make a continual effort to seek wisdom, knowledge and understanding (Pro 4:1-9) in all things. I recognize my life experience is limited (no duh…!); yet, sometimes we slide into a false reality as though we know it all–or at least, we know enough. This false reality–if not checked–will have us believing we’re on top of things when we’re not. As you may or may not know, I’ve been commissioned to “write, for these words are true and faithful.” Therefore, let the transparency begin…
As one who prays with expectation, I expected to receive an answer to my petition before God concerning a man I’d known for some years. Still, I did not expect the response I got: “Stop trying to be his wife, and just be his friend.” Since I know it was from the Holy Spirit, I sucked up my pride and offered another petition. I asked the Lord to show me how. I knew how to be “a” friend, but I wasn’t certain I knew how to be “his” friend. So, once again, since I asked, I got told. And, once again, I laid down my pride and picked up understanding (along with some much needed humility). When I tell you trusting God is an awesome experience, I’m not just saying it–I’m living it. My getting told came in waves. The first wave was from the Holy Spirit; the second wave was from the man, himself.
I’m a firm believer that God gives us what we need when we need it. Like the famous line from the motion picture “A Few Good Men,” most of us can’t handle the truth; thus, the need for spiritual maturity. But, just because we can’t handle it initially, doesn’t mean we won’t get to a point of being able. That’s the growth and development part. With each exposure to the process of seeking and accepting truth, we’re strengthened–much like developing a tolerance for denser food products (first milk, then meat–1 Cor 3:1-3). The word I received in the spirit did not manifest immediately although it was released immediately (see Daniel 10:12; for a fuller context, read Chapters 9-12). Mine was a continuous petition; every time I expected a call and didn’t get one I was in my feelings and in God’s presence asking for understanding. Hadn’t I done what I was supposed to do? Couldn’t he see what a good team we made? Wasn’t it obvious I was the yang to his yin? When I had exhausted myself of questioning and busied myself with my own life’s concerns, I was in the right posture to hear from God and accept His truth. It really was quite simple and doable. What was required of me was within my ability to do. I had been equipped to offer and maintain friendship. Too often, we complicate matters. We’ll gladly invest money and energy to turn things around and resolve our issues. Yet, more often than not, it don’t take all that! It simply requires what is already in our hand (Exo 4:2).
In my attempt to be a friend, I found myself doing too much. By that, I don’t mean I was doing for him (you know, the way women often times do), but I was trying to figure out what he needed instead of recognizing the plain truth. What he needed was a friend–not a fixer. Here I was doing what most men are accused of. Oh, I meant well, but my intentions were on the verge of disrupting the balance that existed between us. Yang was overstepping her boundaries and getting outside of her purpose. Google provided this definition: to “befriend” is to “act as a friend to (someone) by offering help or support” (synonyms: look after, keep an eye on, be of service to, lend a helping hand to, help, protect, side with, stand by, encourage). In and of itself, befriending someone isn’t a bad thing. However, my task at this time is not to befriend, but to be friend. With that in mind, I went to the scriptures to identify and understand God’s definition of friend.
Jesus identified three characteristics. A friend is one who sacrifices, one who is loyal, and one who is trustworthy (Joh 15:13-15). Laying down your life for a friend is to sacrifice your want in order to meet their need. Loyalty is a demonstration of dependability; it also involves doing what is best, not just what is right. To be trusted requires being able to be taken into one’s confidence–which starts with listening and understanding. Trust, if violated, destroys more than the immediate relationship, but negatively effects all future relationships. It is more than a notion to be friend; and, I suppose, the reason friendship is valued so highly. In truth, it is a rare find. Whatever you do, don’t confuse friending someone on Facebook with real friendship.
While I was trying to be a friend to him, this man proved to be a friend to me. He did this by not dismissing me; he did it by helping me. In this second wave of getting told, I was enlightened concerning who he was. It was a Christ-like exchange. The fact that we don’t completely get (or understand) Christ does not lead Him to dismiss us. He is not intimidated by our ignorance. Instead, because He knows the intentions and motives of our heart, he enlightens us. It is through the scriptures we are made aware of who Christ is; how He thinks; and, how we are to be in relationship with Him. This is why the Apostle Paul prayed as he did in Ephesians 1:17-19, for enlightenment. It is all about gaining an understanding and having a proper perspective. Thank You, Friend (and thank you, friend).
The conclusion of the matter is this: friendship is essential to thriving–not just surviving. Meditate on Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 (The Value of a Friend, see below) as you strive to be friend. ~WordsInPrint by Suni
Two are better than one, Because they have a good reward for their labor. For if they fall, one will lift up his companion. But woe to him who is alone when he falls, For he has no one to help him up. Again, if two lie down together, they will keep warm; But how can one be warm alone? Though one may be overpowered by another, two can withstand him. And a threefold cord is not quickly broken.
As I prepared this post, a few songs came to mind: Bill Withers, Lean on Me; Carole King, You’ve Got a Friend. There was also Whodini’s, Friends (How Many of Us Have Them) and ; Dionne Warwick’s, That’s What Friends are For.