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Entries in Friendship (8)

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.

Thursday
Aug032017

10 Ways to Make Friends with Foreigners

Though she now lives in Kansas, Gail Goolsby once lived overseas and knows first-hand how to build friendships with people in other countries. In this Relationship UPGRADE, she encourages us to open our heart and home to make friends with foreigners.

“The world is shaken and people are scattered around the globe,” Gail said. “How can we connect as caring Christians with the international immigrants entering our communities?”

I (Dawn) have often heard pastors and evangelists say, “The mission field is coming to our doorstep.” It’s true! We need to know how to connect with those the Lord is bringing to America.

Gail continues . . .

According to Homeland Security statistics, over 560,000 immigrants received permanent U.S. resident status in the first half of 2017, coming mainly from Mexico, India, China, Philippines, Cuba and the Dominican Republic.

Almost 40,000 fleeing refugees were admitted to our shores. The top five countries were Syria, Iraq, Democratic Republic of Congo, Somalia and Burma.

Politicians and military personnel have their own view of global wars and displaced populace seeking safety and a better life. I am no expert, but I know as private citizens we have the chance to impact the lives of some of the most vulnerable and disillusioned people with a heart of love and hospitality.

For those coming from countries closed to Christians, we may well be the first believers they meet. We can have conversation about who Jesus really is and what He can mean in their lives.

I believe God is bringing those close who used to be out of reach for the Good News.

What should be our response?

“When a foreigner resides among you in your land, do not mistreat them. The foreigner residing among you must be treated as your native-born. Love them as yourself, for you were foreigners in Egypt. I am the LORD your God” (Leviticus 19:33-34 NIV).

Here are 10 ways to connect with foreign neighbors.  

1. Check with the local resettlement agencies in your area for the needs they have.

Clothes, coats, shoes, furniture and household items are essential to families arriving with great needs and few resources.

2. Educate yourself on a particular people group and culture living in your location.

Find out what foods they eat to make a welcoming meal, and learn greetings in their native language.

3. Develop relationships with shopkeepers, hair stylists, nail technicians, etc., by asking questions and showing interest.

Let them see you as a friendly Christ-follower who is open to spiritual as well as practical conversation in a non-threatening way.

4. Volunteer to be an English tutor or conversation partner.

Local colleges and churches sponsor English classes to help immigrants assimilate quickly. The main qualification is being a native English speaker!

5. Host an international friends group in your home or at a local community center.

Meet regularly with others who have the same interest to help immigrants make new friends while practicing English and learning cultural information.

6. Transport immigrants to work interviews, doctor appointments, shopping trips, etc.

Here is another opportunity to practice English and show care.

7. Invite new friends to your home and share your family.

This is the most influential way to make friends. Hospitality translates through every culture as a sincere connection point.

8. Sponsor an international student from your local university.

Text, call, or take him or her to lunch or coffee regularly to see how things are going and, again, invite into your home for holidays or weekend meals.

Take students on sightseeing outings and show off America.

9. Start a Discovery Bible Study with a small group and invite new international friends.

This is not an academic, pastor-led experience, but rather people reading selected Bible passages, talking together about what is learned, and making personal applications.

10. Bring your international friend to church or other formal study groups if he or she is comfortable.

This is not usually the best first step due to large cultural differences and misunderstandings, especially among Muslim-background friends.

Contemporary religious services can appear irreverent and offensive without thorough preparation and exposure to American culture and Christian ways before attending church.

Women are POWERFUL CONNECTORS!

The women of the world, particularly the Muslim world, are often seen as second-class citizens or worse. That doesn’t mean they are uneducated or even unloved, but typically they are very restricted in the expression of their personhood.

These people are almost unreachable by men.

They are covered, they are absent, and they are culturally not to be in the presence of men outside their family.

We as women have incredible power here, ladies.

We can speak to them, touch them, embrace them, have them in our homes uncovered, visit in their homes, and share as the sisters we really are.

I have special women friends in my hometown from Iran, Jordan, Congo, and Afghanistan. We eat together, share family time, practice English, cook new recipes from our home cultures, explore pumpkin patches, play games, watch movies, and talk for hours about female concerns and interests.

The riches of such relationships give back much more than the cost to me in time or resources. This is my opportunity to make friends with foreigners God has planted in my world at this important time in history.

What foreign neighbors cross your path that you could engage to develop a relationship and share the love of God?

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.

Graphic adapted, courtesy of fsHH at Pixabay.

Thursday
Apr132017

Gasp: A Relationship's Last Breath

Cythia Ruchti is a hope-lover, hope giver and hope promoter. In this Relationship UPGRADE, she offers hope for all human relationships (and our ultimate relationship with the Lord).

"Who sits sipping coffee when a dying man or woman lies on the hardwood floor of the coffee shop or the breakroom at the office?" Cynthia says. "Even people with minimal skills know that someone needs to start CPR, call 911, and ask, 'Is there a doctor in the house?'"

At first, I (Dawn) thought this sounded a little like the beginning of a mystery, but knowing Cynthia, I figured it was more likely a powerful life lesson. I was not disappointed!

Cynthia continues . . . 

With relationships—marriage, parent/child, friendships—isn’t that what we too often do?

We sit idly by, caring but not responding.

“That’s for the professionals.” As if that absolves us of the responsibility to act, to do something, even if our skills are amateur at best, even if all we know about CPR is what we’ve seen on TV dramas.

But sometimes the last gasp occurs before the professionals arrive on the scene.

And sometimes the relationship in trouble is our own.

It’s been said that the number one killer of relationships is neglect.

  • How many friendships would still be alive if years, distance, and neglect hadn’t gotten in the way?
  • How many parent/child relationships could be strong and vital, life-giving, if given more attention when they started to fade?
  • How many marriages list “neglect” as one of the reasons for their “failure to thrive”?

Although the following scripture specifically speaks to a community’s forsaking or neglecting their relationship with God, doesn’t it also give a gripping word picture of the way we handle distance in marriage relationships or friendships?

“For our fathers…have forsaken Him and turned their faces away from the dwelling place of the LORD, and have turned their backs. They have also shut the doors of the porch and put out the lamps…” (2 Chronicles 29:6-9 NASB).

What a poignant visual! Leaving a porch light on is an expression of hope. He will come home. She will return. We will be okay. We’ll get through this. It may be long into the night, but we’re going to make it.

In this incident in the Bible, the people had boldly extinguished all evidence of hope. Lights off. We’re done.

After decades of marriage, my husband and I still disagree. Shocking, isn’t it? But even when our disagreements reach what seem to be impossible impasses, neither one of us reaches to shut off the porch light, because hope lingers in our commitment to one another.

Most MARRIED couples can recite the list of relationship CPR (Caring enough to Proactively Resuscitate) instructions:

  1. Maintain frequent date nights, even if you’re empty nesters. Get away from the house and its responsibilities for a while to focus on each other.
  2. Set aside an extended period of time for a getaway at least once a year.
  3. Be intentional about what the other person needs, honoring him (or her) above yourself (See Philippians 2:3. Check out the Phillips version—“Live together in harmony, live together in love, as though you had only one mind and one spirit between you. Never act from motives of rivalry or personal vanity, but in humility think more of each other than you do of yourselves. None of you should think only of his own affairs, but should learn to see things from other people’s point of view.”)
  4. Learn and respect your mate’s love language.

What would that list look like if our connection WITH GOD is the relationship that’s been neglected, left gasping?

  1. Re-establish a regular time to leave all other concerns behind and focus on listening to Him.
  2. Make it a priority to create an extended time for aloneness with the One you love. A silent retreat. A day-long or week-long sabbatical from other responsibilities. Unplugging. Fasting.
  3. Set your own needs aside to concentrate on what God wants from you—worship, adoration, devotion…
  4. Learn and respect God’s love language—OBEDIENCE (John 14:15).

If your human relationships or your connection with God are gasping for air, what CPR measures do you intend to implement?

Cynthia Ruchti tells stories hemmed-in-hope, an ever-lit porch light hope, through her award-winning novels, novellas, devotions, nonfiction, and through speaking events for women and writers. She and her grade-school sweetheart husband live in the heart of Wisconsin, not far from their three children and five (to date) grandchildren. Her latest novel is A Fragile Hope (Abingdon Press). In June, Worthy Publishing releases her book of encouragement and reflections called As My Parents Agehttp://www.cynthiaruchti.com/books/a-fragile-hope/.

Graphic: adapted, Click at Morguefile.

Tuesday
Nov172015

How to Make Friends in New Seasons

I've watched from afar as Julie Sanders made a difficult transition to a new state and new role, and I've admired her willingness to step into this new season of life. In this Friendship UPGRADE, she shares encouraging words for all of us seeking new friends.

"When we’re the unknown new girl, we need friends," Julie says. "How do we make a new life better by making a new friend?"

With a dad in the military, I (Dawn) often had to make new friends in new places. It's not often easy. Julie gives us helpful tips.

Julie continues . . . 

Friendships ebb and flow with life transitions like shifts in marital status, geography and employment. Change can thrust relationships into upheaval and leave us feeling friendless.

Whether firmly rooted in your hometown or freshly planted in a new neighborhood, you may find yourself needing a friend.

God fashioned us to walk through life with the fellowship of friendship.

Multiple translations of Proverbs 18:24 offers insight to improve relational health and help us find friends when we need them most.

A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother. (ESV)

A man that hath friends must shew himself friendly: and there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother. (KJV)

Suggestions for making new friends in new seasons of life:

1. Focus on a FEW.

 When events like the loss of a loved one or a major move finally crash on shore and retreat, silence follows. A longing for the familiar or a desire to quiet the loneliness may result in temptation to gather a crowd of people around us.

As ruinous as complete withdrawal, surrounding ourselves with a swarm of companions may lead to a layer of life where we are barely known and marginally valued. Instead of jumping into the rushing rapids of relationships, Proverbs cautions that having too many friends is dangerous. Since we are fashioned to walk through life with the fellowship of friends, we’re more likely to find true friendship in a few.

Scheduling coffee or lunch with every new, available woman we meet at church, in the restroom, and at the grocery store is tempting.

Instead of letting the tide take you away to avoid the tension of transition, ask God to give you a few places to invest.

2. Force yourself to be FRIENDLY.

If you’re not eagerly noting contact information when a friendly person makes eye contact, you might be the lonely woman tempted to withdraw. Solitude might feel like the safer sanctuary. After all, you might have dragged painful baggage into this season of life. Isolation might feel easier than finding friendship.

Solitude has a place in life change, but forging new relationships requires a decision to be friendly, even when we might not feel like it. 

  • Make eye contact.
  • Smile first.
  • Introduce yourself.
  • Talk to people of different ages.
  • Keep an open mind and heart. God wants us to find the fellowship of friendship.

3. Don’t Forget your BEST FRIEND.

For whatever reason, you find yourself in need of a new friend. It’s a good thing to hope and pray and look for.

When you find that longed for companion, she will be delightfully imperfect, unable to meet all your expectations and beautifully flawed like you.

She will not make your life complete, and that’s okay. Someone else is the perfect friend.

No one takes the place of Jesus. Times of loneliness and longing lead us back to remembering the sweet security of friendship with Jesus. No matter what season or circumstance, He will stay with us and be our BFF.

As you show yourself friendly, focus on a few relationships and experience the friendship of God in a fresh way. God fashioned us to walk through life with the fellowship of friendship.

Look around your life. Who is a potential new friend given to you by the sweetest Friend of all?

Julie Sanders—as an empty nester and new girl in town—is making friends around her new home in the Inland Northwest. Her local and global ministry to women has given her a passion for the issue of human trafficking.  She believes life is better when the lives of women are interwoven. Visit Julie’s blog, “Come Have a Peace.”

Graphic Adapted, Image courtesy of imagerymajestic at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

Tuesday
Apr212015

A Friendship Wake-up Call

Sylvia Lange is a talented, compassionate singer and speaker. But she's also the kind of woman you'd want to call "friend." In this Relationship UPGRADE, she shares her journey into real friendships.

"Years ago over coffee," Sylvia said, "a friend slapped me in the face. In public. Well, maybe not a physical slap but she sure got my attention when she quietly murmured, 'You know, it isn’t always about you.'”

Talk about a wake-up call! I (Dawn) don't know how I would have responded. But I'm glad Sylvia took the high road and responded Godward so she can give us biblical insight.  

Sylvia continues . . .  

No one had ever spoken to me like that before.  My initial indignation quickly morphed into embarrassment as I wondered who else thinks the same thing?

A review of my roster of friends revealed that the majority of my social connections were pretty superficial. With few exceptions, I had surrounded myself with people I could either control or from whom I could get something.

I had very few equals and certainly, no true heart friend. I needed an overhaul.

Someone once said in order to have a good friend you must first be a good friend. I soon realized I really didn’t know how, so starting on that painful day, I got busy.

I began spending time with authentic Christians who practiced a lifestyle of service. They helped me understand that although I am “made in the image of God,” I am no better than anyone else. In fact, I needed to just be a “worker among workers.”

I began to create some space between myself and people who didn’t share my core values. 

"One who has unreliable friends soon comes to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a sister" (Proverbs 18:24).

I zeroed in on those who believed in me, recognizing that anyone functions at their best when they have their own private cheerleading squad.

I also started to emulate people with strong friendships of their own. Although many actions were initially awkward, over time, behaviors that were once foreign became automatic and the impact on my relationships was immeasurable.

That was twenty-five years ago. And although I will always be learning, I have picked up a few truths:

1. Real friendship isn’t about you.  

Let’s face it: it is rarely convenient to truly attend to someone at their level of need . . . not on the level that’s convenient for us.

True, deep friendship requires intentional effort, can cramp our comfort, impinge on our time, and sometimes even cost money . . . but the payoff is priceless. 

Today, my friendship quiver is full of a variety of unselfish, loving people who put their money where their mouth is.

2. Friendship plays to each other’s strengths and celebrates its differences. 

My long-time friend and ministry partner Billye and I recognize we have no natural chemistry and agree that our friendship has been the most challenging either of us has ever had. In our early years we often brought out the worst in each other, but over time, we have learned to value our differences and recognize that together, we’re stronger than on our own.

3. Friendship leaves its ego at the door.  

 My good intentions’ only go so far if I don’t notice how my friend needs to be communicated with, served and loved, regardless of how I need to be communicated with, served, and loved.

4. Friendship is trustworthy. 

A trustworthy friend keeps her promises, is reliable and would never do anything that would compromise the security of her friend, no matter how she might gain otherwise. 

What is your definition of real friendship? And to what lengths should a person go to be a real friend?

Sylvia Lange, a popular women's ministries speaker both on her own and with her duo Crimson Bridge, is  known for her infectious candor that invites listeners to know more about the God to Whom she owes her life. Whether blogging, speaking for a women's ministries event or sharing from one of her five albums, she speaks with Spirit-propelled authority to those who don’t yet know Christ and those who have forgotten Who He is. To book Sylvia or purchase her music, visit www.sylvialange.com. Sylvia is also committed to Compassion International, an outreach to starving, diseased children in the 3rd World.

Graphic adapted, Image courtesy of Serge Bertasius Photography at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.