"As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend." Proverbs 27:17 (NLT)
I was that girl ... feeling like I didn't belong and wanting a best friend more than anything.
In elementary school, there were the cool kids and the on-the-outs kids. I didn't fit into either group.
I roamed around mostly a loner and struggled for the bulk of my childhood with the emotions of "not fitting in."
I just wanted a friend. One. Good. Friend.
Fast forward to high school.
There was a girl I clicked with completely. I felt understood and thought I understood her well, too. I wanted to spend lots of time with her and talk to her a bunch — just like any pair of "besties" would.
And then one day, I heard her refer to someone else as her "best friend."
Oh, the devastation!
I mean ... what was I? Just a little minion?
In a word? Crushed. And on the outs again.
Fast forward to adulthood.
I have lots of friends. Lots of people I know in varying degrees. Two or three friends who are the "ride-or-die" kind. I know they have my back and they know I have theirs.
And the other day, one of those girls referenced another person as her best friend.
Was I crushed? Nope. I've since changed my outlook on the whole loner thing.
I am not alone. Never have been. Never will be.
First, I belong to God. He has loved me with an everlasting love. He is available any time of day to chat, and completely and totally accepts me just the way I am.
Secondly, I believe in my value. As I understand more of who I am in Christ and stop looking for others to validate my existence, I am less and less tied to the need to fit in. Jesus died for me. If that doesn't validate me, I don't know what does.
Third, I see now that fitting in is overrated. I have learned that friendship is about so much more than my elementary- and high-school-self understood.
It's not just about me.
As I've grown more comfortable in my own skin, I've learned that while friendship includes the wonder of belonging, it is about so much more than that.
True, I am the beneficiary of my friendships. The life, laughter and fun are invaluable. But once I stopped looking for my friends to give me what only God could give me (my husband as well, for that matter, but that's another story), I was good to go.
And now it frees me to BE a friend.
Let me keep it real here. I'm busy. I have a husband and five kids. I homeschool, work, write and speak.
It's hard to find time for friends. But I make time.
Why? Because it's not just about me. I am validated because of God's love, but I still need connections. Jesus had friends. At least 12 of them.
Not because He needed them to define or validate Him, but because the context of His ministry centered around His relationships.
And here's what we can learn from His example. We need people in our lives whom we sharpen and who sharpen us.
As God's Word explains, there should be someone in your life who knows she can count on you when she is down: "Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow," (Ecclesiastes 4:9-10a, ESV).
Let's make it our business to encourage others on to love and good deeds, even it requires effort to find time in our calendars to chat.
"And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another ..." (Hebrews 10:24-25a, ESV).
Are you lonely? Seek to be a friend.
Busy? Make time to be a friend.
Maybe you could do without the d-r-a-m-a that friendships occasionally bring ... but you understand the importance and purpose of friendship. So be a friend anyway.
Dear Jesus, thank You for being my friend. Thank You for being an example of what a good friend looks like. Help me value the relationships You've given me and show me how to cultivate others as You desire. Make me the kind of friend I want to have and let me always point my friends toward You. And where I need friendship for my journey through life, send just the right person my way. In Jesus' Name, Amen.
TRUTH FOR TODAY: John 15:13, "Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends." (ESV)
REFLECT AND RESPOND: Which friend or friends are in your life to help "sharpen" you? How are you actively sharpening others?
In what practical ways do you make time to nourish your friendships? If this is something you haven't been doing well, what is one thing you will do in the near future to better cultivate your connections?
© 2014 by Chrystal Evans Hurst. All rights reserved.
Proverbs 31 Ministries 630 Team Rd., Suite 100 Matthews, NC 28105 www.Proverbs31.org