Since I’ve arrived here, with the help of a kind coworker, I have been able to start attending a church and get involved with their young adults group. Tonight I attended the first official Bible study since I’ve been here. Since attending a crayfish boil and bowling with them I was very excited to begin to dive into the Bible with them and develop a spiritual community with them as well as a social community. And I was by no means disappointed.
The bulk of this post will be me attempting to repeat or restate what the young adult pastor addressed tonight, because it struck me so much I feel it is more than worth repeating. So here it goes…
First we looked at Philippians 2:1-4, so let me write it out for you here:
“If then there is any encouragement in Christ, if any consolation of love, if any fellowship with the Spirit if any affection and mercy, fulfill my joy by thinking the same way, having the same love, sharing the same feelings, focusing on once goal. Do nothing out of rivalry of conceit, but in humility consider others as more important than yourselves. Everyone should look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.”
What we then spent time discussing is what you expect from a friend. What do you expect from your friends? Loyalty, respect, confidentiality, patience? I’m sure all of our lists differ to some degree, but in the end we expect a lot more from a friend then say someone you cross paths with at the store, or any acquaintances you have, some even expect more from their friends than some of their family members. Friendships can be strong bonds and vital relationships. As young adults we discussed the trials of finding and making new friends. Then the whole discussion was turned around. Yes, we expect a lot from our friends, but we” have to be a friend to have friends”. An easy concept, yes? But if you all are anything like me, this isn’t something you might give much thought to. Usually more attention is given to, “why doesn’t she ever call me to hang out?” or “when we talk why doesn’t he ever ask about what’s going on with me?” and never about how I can be a better friend to them. A tip the pastor gave was to just ask someone how they are. And to not just accept the standard answer of “good” or “fine” but to ask, “how are you really”. And listen. Really listen. Invest that small amount of time in someone else by sharing in their trials, griefs, or joys.
Now, with that being said, I do believe this is a technique that we can be utilizing in our everyday mission fields. I know I will be more consciously using this throughout both my work setting and my social setting. I’ve had to shatter my own comfort zone while on my placement site this last month, and reach out to women who seem like they don’t want to have anything to do with me, but if the time is taken to ask them how they are, and not just in passing, they will allow me to share in their pains, and at times I’ve seen smiles that stay hidden most of the time. And, ladies and gentleman, smiles are a beautiful. Obvious statement, but I think it’s worth continually repeating. This has effort has been an off and on struggle for me and I imagine it will continue to be so. But, the relationships make the struggle and effort more than worth it.
It was also brought up that, surprise surprise, God wants our friendship too! Reach out to Him as much as you want Him to reach back. We were given a sheet of paper from the pastor at then end of the study that said this:
“When you wake up, remember that Jesus is present with you as a friend. You are already on His mind. Invite Him to spend the day with you.
When something good happens, even if it seems small or insignificant, express your joy or gratitude with Jesus in the same way that you might with a close friend.
When someone else’s need interrupts your day, seize it as an opportunity to serve Jesus as you would do a favor for a good friend.
Throughout the day, whenever you are tempted, anxious or discouraged, take that emotion as a cue to remind you that you are not alone. Take a moment to talk to Jesus about your concern in the same way that you would a close friend.”
Join me, friends. Join me in consciously not only looking out for our own interests, but also for the interests of others. Throw away rivalry and conceit and chose humility.
Love and blessings all. Until next time.