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Entries in Friends (4)

Thursday
Nov092017

Face-to-Face Friends Go Beyond Facebook

Leave it to counselor-coach Gail Goolsby to remind us to pursue real friends. In this Friendship UPGRADE, she encourages us to go beyond Facebook.

“As of January 2016, Facebook leads social network activity with approximately 1.6 billion regular monthly users,” Gail said. The average Facebook user has about 340 friends, but are they real or fake friends?”

I (Dawn) think Gail is hitting on a great truth. How we define friends has truly changed in recent years. And with that redefinition comes some difficulties.

Gail continues…

In 2010, TV talk host Jimmy Kimmel proclaimed November 17th as National UnFriend Day.

For UTube, he created humorous videos to help his viewers determine who to dismiss from their overloaded friend list on Facebook.

He playfully demonstrated that:

  • If people posted countless selfies/baby/pet/vacation photos,
  • or if they complained about their health repeatedly,
  • or sent online game invites too many times—

CLICK. They were unfriended.

Kimmel proposed social media users should reflect on what true friendship means, and how to be a better online friend with less people.

A Good Friend is Hard to Find

How do we develop real, meaningful relationships in short phrases, food and family pictures, and emoticons from a cell phone or a computer screen?

What do online friends actually contribute to our lives?

A dozen synonyms from the thesaurus for friendship include: affection, closeness, intimacy, love, understanding, alliance, attachment, company, empathy, familiarity, fondness, and regard.

Can we form a genuine attachment to people that we do not share physical presence with on a regular basis?

Can we read others’ theological debates, political rants, favorite Bible verses, daily updates and hope to become emotionally or spiritually connected?

Let’s review friendship examples and exhortations that come from Scripture and compare them to online friendship potential.

1. Job 2:11 (ESV)

Now when Job's three friends heard of all this evil that had come upon him, they came each from his own place, Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite, and Zophar the Naamathite. They made an appointment together to come to show him sympathy and comfort him.

The three friends went to sit with Job in his troubles.

Are twenty postings of encouragement on a Facebook wall as powerful as a person in physical proximity to communicate support? I don’t think so.

2. Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 (ESV)

Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil.  For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up!

Loneliness can be challenging as well as sad. Friends together can accomplish much and share the burden of moving, repairing, cleaning, planting, harvesting, and building.

Typed words alone will not get the tasks done.

3. Proverbs 27:6, 17 (ESV)

Faithful are the wounds of a friend; profuse are the kisses of an enemy. Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another.

Online friends can be sincere or not—who would know? Compliments and likes are easy to provide with a few clicks of computer keys or adding cute faces and heart symbols.

To speak the hard truth to a friend that could really help her life situation requires a deep knowing and foundation of trust built over time and shared experiences.

People need facial expressions and eye contact to fully comprehend risky messages and to grow from the interactions.

4. Proverbs 18:24; 17:17 (ESV)

A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother. A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.

How many friends should be gathered, or is quality more the question than quantity?

  • Needed are the companions who stick around when cancer strikes, to tenderly hold up a friend’s weak body after chemo.
  • When divorce erupts or a child dies, real friends offer more than comforting scripture memes.
  • Friends provide meals for the family when the wife/mother cannot get out of bed as well as online prayers.
  • People need to feel a hand on their shoulder or see an empathetic expression of sadness on their friend’s face sitting across the table, not just a teary emoji in a text box.

Face-to-Face Works Best!

Should we unfriend? Forget about spending time sorting your Facebook friend list this month. Close the laptop and get together with actual friends for some real-time activity.

Communicate with the people right in front of you instead of working your fingers to talk to others in cyberspace.

Be a live, human friend, present and engaged with the important people in your life.

Facebook can wait.

What friendships have been neglected or reduced to brief digital messages that need your personal attention and care?

Gail Goolsby, MA, MEd, is a lifelong educator, including past leadership at an international school in Afghanistan. Gail and her pastor husband of 39 years live where the wind blows over the prairie in south Kansas. She counsels and coaches using God’s Word to help others learn to live well. Get to know more about Gail here.

Graphics adapted, social media courtesy of geralt and Best Friends courtsy of cherylholt—both at Pixabay.

Tuesday
Jun202017

Avoid Drama by Choosing Your Friends Wisely

Cindi McMenamin would love to see women display more and more strength as they embrace life-changing truth. In this Friendship UPGRADE, she explains how we can have less drama and more soul-strength by choosing friends carefully.

She asks, "Do you find there’s much drama in your life? If so, it may have to do with your choice of friends."  

I (Dawn) know this is true. Today I have different "levels" of friendships—intimate, ministry-based, casual, and sad to say, "guarded." Friends are truly a blessing, but we still need to pray carefully about the people we invite into our hearts.

Cindi continues . . .

Christian women often get the idea that they must be friends with everyone. Yet the Bible tells us,

“The righteous choose their friends carefully” (Proverbs 12:26, NIV).

Sometimes you and I don’t actually choose our friends—they just find us and before we know it, we’re hanging out with someone who is either helpful or a hindrance. But if you and I want to dial down the drama in our lives, it would be wise to take inventory of our friendships.

As I was writing my book, Drama Free, I included a list of the five types of friends you and I need in our lives. As you read through this list (which is not in any particular order), you might want to take mental note of the kinds of friends you currently HAVE to get an idea of how balanced you are.

You might also use this list as a guide to praying about the friendships you might STILL need.

1. The Fun Friend

Let’s admit it. We all need someone who is fun to be with, who makes us laugh, who encourages us to set the work aside, have some fun, live a little.

You and I can’t spend every waking moment with this friend because if we did, we’d never get anything done. But if you have a friend who can balance the fun with responsibility and maturity, and encourage you to let go of work now and then and not take yourself so seriously, you have found a treasure.

Who encourages you to not take yourself so seriously?

2. The Firm Friend

I’m not talking about the woman who is constantly working out and has considerably less body fat than the rest of us. Although you and I need her too (we’ll get to her later), we need a friend who will firmly tell us what we need to hear, not just what we want to hear.

While your fun friend may encourage you to laugh it off or live for the moment, your firm friend will often remind you of what’s best for you, even if it isn’t fun or even comfortable. She does this because of her love for you and her ability to see beyond the moment to what really matters.

And if she’s able to be firm with a generous dose of grace and love, hold onto her. She is a rare gift.

Who tells you what you need to hear instead of just what you want to hear?

3. The forward-moving friend

You’ve seen her. You probably even admire her (or maybe you can’t stand her because she has it all together!).

She gets excited about New Year’s resolutions and seeks out people to join her in them each January. She talks about what she’s reading, what she’s learning in her Bible study, or the latest class she’s taking to explore something new.

Do you have someone to challenge you to be more healthy, read more books, think more deeply, hone your skills?

We all need to keep moving forward personally, emotionally, physically, and spiritually.

Who challenges you to move beyond where you are right now? 

4. The Faithful Friend

Every woman needs a friend who will be there through thick and thin. Through the dark days, through the sick days, through the days you are having difficulty and just need someone to understand.

Not only is the faithful friend always there, but she’s loyal—meaning she would never talk behind your back or re-evaluate the friendship if she thinks she’s giving more than you are.

A faithful friend doesn’t keep track of how many times she has called you vs. how many times you take the initiative to call her.

She will pick up with you wherever the two of you left off.

The opposite of the faithful friend is the gossip or critic. Proverbs 16:28 says “a whisperer separates close friends.” Your faithful friend is the one who will never be whispering to others about you.

Who can you always depend on, regardless of season or schedule?

5. The “Faith-filled” Friend

Do you tend to be a worrier? Do you stress out when a situation seems out of control? If you hang around others who do the same, you will fuel each other’s fire of fear and doubt.

That’s why every woman needs a faith-filled friend who doesn’t worry or talk about the “what ifs,” but trusts in the Lord and helps fill up others with her faith.

When your concerns cross the line into worry, doubt, and fear, that’s when you need your faith-filled friend to remind you Who is ultimately in control. 

If you have at least one friend in each category above (or all the categories are covered by the few friends you have), you are rich beyond measure.

And if there’s a friend on that list that you don’t yet have, you know what to look for—and the kind of friend to be as well.

Cindi McMenamin is a national speaker and author who helps women find strength for the soul. She is the author of fifteen books, including her newest, Drama Free: Finding Peace When Emotions Overwhelm You, upon which this post is based.  For more on her ministry, discounts on her books, or free resources to strengthen your walk with God, your marriage, or your parenting, see her website: StrengthForTheSoul.com.                        

All Graphics adapted, courtesy of Pixabay, except for the Faith-filled friend graphic, courtesy of Lightstock.

Tuesday
Feb042014

Reach Out to Your Friends

Lane Jordan, a professional life coach, offers helpful counsel for women who want an organized life. In this post, she has good advice for those of us who want to UPGRADE our friendships.

I am very loyal to my friends, and I want to be there for them as much as possible,” Lane said.

I think most of us want to “be there” for friends … but how?

Lane continues …

Friends are people who also have illnesses, family troubles and hardships. We need to be available to stretch out our hands to them in their need.

If you don’t have the time in your life now to help a friend, then maybe you are doing too much.

What would you change in your life?

1. If friends are sick, be ready to help drive them to the doctor or pick up something for them at the store.

Keep a meal frozen in your freezer so you will have one to give away quickly if a friend is in need. Be willing to babysit their children.

2. Be available to talk to them when they need you, in person or by phone.

Try to stop what you are doing and be sure to listen well. Many times all a friend needs is someone to listen and to care. Have empathy—put yourself in their shoes. Offer encouragement. Don’t nag or argue.

3. E-mail them a short message or a text so they know you care.

This is a way to keep in touch without intruding or bothering them.

4. Accept your friends as they are.

Praise their accomplishments and never be jealous of them. Be forgiving. And if you need to, don’t be afraid to say you’re sorry.

5. Always keep promises and secrets.

A real friend never gossips, is discreet and confidential.

6. Speak words of hope, grace and truth, and demonstrate faith.

A friend also prays for and with her friends and commits to prayer intercession for them.

7. Be there when a friend loses a loved one.

Sometimes we don’t know what to say when our friends are grieving. But a quick visit with a meal, visiting just to be available, sending a card or letter that shares how special their loved one was, and even remembering the birthday of the deceased are extremely helpful and loving gestures.

Grieving is an ongoing process that requires continuing help and support. “Bear one another’s burdens” (Galatians 6:2) is a verse we need to remember.

Friends are healthy! Having a community of friends around you will keep you healthier and will give you more joy in your life. Do all you can to cultivate friendships.

Which of these points most encourages you to UPGRADE your friendships … to grow in your relationships?

Lane P. Jordan is an author, national speaker and seminar leader for Christian organizations, a certified professional life coach with the American Association of Christian Counselors, and has served as Associate Producer for the weekly television program “In Touch with Dr. Charles Stanley.” Explore her website!

Note: This post is adapted from pages 42-43 in Lane’s book, 12 Steps to Becoming a More Organized Woman. Graphic in text is adapted from photo by Stuart Miles, freedigitalphotos.net.

Thursday
Jan232014

Dear God, We Need Friends

Janet Thompson, founder of Woman to Woman Mentoring Ministry, shared a conversation she had about friendship. When I read it, I asked her to help us Upgrade our Friendships. She shares four ways she expanded her own friendship circles.

Janet wrote:

‘You sure do have a lot of friends!’ a friend exclaimed laughingly.

That’s what we prayed for,’ my husband, Dave, and I answered in unison.”

Have you ever prayed for friends? I prayed that same prayer about 10 years ago, and God has answered with an abundance of women I now cherish—valued companions in life and ministry.

Janet continues …

As newlyweds, we asked God to bless us with Christian “couple” friends. God answered that prayer beyond our expectations.

We knew it would be important for us to have a social life comprised of couples who shared our values and beliefs, so we intentionally prayed asking God to bring friends into our married life.

1. Looking For Friends Outside the Box!

Dave and I met in a small-group Bible study, so we had a head start on our quest for friends.

We were also willing to look outside our church home of Saddleback Church, so when I heard about a Marriage Builders class offered at another church, we decided this was perfect preparation for our upcoming marriage. We made more friends, and the pastor who taught Marriage Builders officiated at our wedding.

Then I heard a radio advertisement for a Caribbean cruise with Calvary Church. What a great way to spend our honeymoon—on a cruise with Christian couples. Again, it didn’t matter what church they attended. We were all in the family of God. We had fun being the “newlyweds” on the cruise and came home with a new group of friends.

Dave and I were also intentional about inviting other couples—people we met at the gym, at church, in the grocery store, friends of friends— to join our small-group Bible study. As the group expanded, so did our circle of friends.

“A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for a time of adversity” (Proverbs 17:17).

2. Moving, an Opportunity for New Friends

We bought a mountain cabin, and even though we were “weekenders,” we attended the local church, had couples over for dinner and hosted game nights. Soon people were saying I should run for mayor, because I knew so many people in town.

Then two years ago, we made the major move from Southern California to the mountains of Idaho. I wondered how we would make new friends, but I didn’t wonder for long. Again, we joined the local community church where the members embraced and welcomed us. Soon we had invitations to potlucks, football parties, game nights and social events.

3. Vacation with the Family of God

We decided to celebrate our 20th anniversary like our honeymoon, with Christian couples on the “Love Song Couples Getaway.” In one week, we made friends from all over the country who have become near and dear to us.

4. Friendships Are Our Witness

As Christians, someone is always watching us and we never know what aspect of our lives is influencing them. In Praying for Your Prodigal Daughter, I tell the story of my daughter, Kim, who was contemplating becoming a Christian and worrying that she might not have any friends.

“Well, you and Dave have so many friends,” she said, “and you’re always having a good time. I guess I don’t need those [unbelieving] friends who won’t accept me.”

Friends enjoying wholesome activities together is a testimony that Christians have fun and fellowship.

It’s important to also befriend nonbelievers, but those we share our lives with should share our morals and our values.

There are potential friends everywhere, so go out and make a new friend!

Where have you found your most cherished friend? Did Janet give you any ideas for where you might cultivate new friendships?

Janet Thompson is an international speaker and an award-winning author of  17 books, including: Dear God, They Say It’s Cancer and Dear God, He’s Home!-A Woman’s Guide to Her Stay-at-Home Man. Janet is the founder of Woman to Woman Mentoring and About His Work Ministries. Visit Janet at womantowomanmentoring.com and connect with her on Facebook or Twitter.

Photo in text, adapted. Image courtesy of Ambro / FreeDigitalPhotos.net