When I ask God for a plan, He usually sends a friend.
Some people believe time travel isn't real, but those folks have never read the Facebook messages they sent in 2012. About a week ago I sent my friend Hannah some links to podcasts that I love through FB messenger. That somehow triggered my reading every message we ever sent to each other. My curiosity was peaked, so I read the entire FB message threads of 4 other friends too. Traveling through the last 5 years of my life though words exchanged on Facebook made me laugh out loud, cry a little, and sometimes wince.
This time traveling experience was so good and so weird all at once. Good, because I can clearly see the change God has done in my heart and weird, because I barely remember myself as the girl who sent those messages. The memories they stirred up feel like forgotten dreams to me now (for the most part). What warmed my heart the most was realizing that all 5 of the women whose correspondence I read back through were standing next to me on my wedding day. They never left. Why? Because they love Jesus and they love me.
We were doing it together: the wandering, the settling into our faith, and the growing up. That meant things were messy. We were messy. We are all still a little messy.
It's been true of every chapter of my life that God has blessed me with phenomenal friends. The first and best friend He gave me is of course, my momma. When I wasn't sure how to make the transition from private school to public high school, new friends helped me. When college came around and I wanted a chance to figure out who I really was, God sent many friends again. When I began investing my time and heart into Young Life, I made friends with a bunch of high school girls who I still call friends today. Then after college, around the time those Facebook messages started flying haphazardly, the time when I soooooo desperately wanted a "for sure" plan, He gave me more friends. Still today, in the season of adulthood and marriage, He places women in my life that teach me more about His heart and His purpose.
Obviously, God uses many tools in our lives to mold us into the people He intended us to be. In each of the seasons of life listed above, friends weren't the only way He was changing me, but, God created me to be VERY relational and friendships were essential in moving me closer to Him. I didn't always choose the best friends and I haven't always been the best friend. As Matthew says, "sometime you have to learn from the school of black and blue" and I boy have I.
Those rotten experiences, when I treated others badly or vice versa, have still been used to propel me forward, towards the heart of Christ. I don't see eye-to-eye on all things with every friend even now, but because we choose to focus on what we have in common and the love we have for each other, our friendships deepen and flourish.
Here's some things God has to say about friendships:
Friends won't let you do hard things alone.
(2 Kings 2:2)
Friends are used to show compassion in suffering.
Friends are called to treat one another how they want to be treated. (Luke 6:31)
Friends have the ability to speak into your life for good or for bad, so be cautious who you make your friend.
(1 Corinthians 15:33, Proverbs 18:24, Proverbs 19:20)
Friends forgive. (Colossians 3 :13)
Friends are unified by love (Colossians 3:14)
Friends make it easier to get back up when life knocks you down. (Ecclesiastes 4:9-10)
Friends love at all times. (Proverbs 17:17)
Friends pray for and over one another. (Job 16:20-21)
Jesus calls us His friends. (John 15:12-15)
When I am curious of how to be a good friend, I need to look to Christ. When am I developing new friendships, I need to look to Christ too. Am I a friend like He talks about? Am I making friends with women who have these qualities? If so, they are going to be authentic and healthy relationships. This is crucial! Our deepest friendships, the one's we have with the women who speak into our lives the most, should reflect the heart of Christ. He is very intentional about the people He puts in our lives to do so. It's like the old song says, "some are silver and the other gold", meaning, the friends you come across during your lifetime who are rooted in Christ are all valuable, whether for that specific season or for a lifetime.
C.S. Lewis, one of my very favorite authors (maybe yours too), says this about Christian friendships:
"In friendship...we think we have chosen our peers. In reality a few years' difference in the dates of our births, a few more miles between certain houses, the choice of one university instead of another...the accident of a topic being raised or not raised at a first meeting--any of these chances might have kept us apart. But, for a Christian, there are, strictly speaking no chances. A secret master of ceremonies has been at work. Christ, who said to the disciples, "Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you," can truly say to every group of Christian friends, "Ye have not chosen one another but I have chosen you for one another." The friendship is not a reward for our discriminating and good taste in finding one another out. It is the instrument by which God reveals to each of us the beauties of others."
I can't begin to say how grateful I am for all the friendships that God has used as instruments to teach me and lead me. My friends are all different ages, shapes, sizes, and in very different seasons of life, but each one of them is a gift to me. Bob Goff always knows what he's talking about, but especially this time.
What a blessing it has been to pray for a plan and be sent a friend instead.
Not Pictured: SO MANY other friends. You know who you are. I love you.