Thursday, January 29, 2015

Are you Friend #3?

Recently, God has shown me that in order to have meaningful relationships in my life, I need to overflow. I need to overflow in order to have deep friendships and connections. 

John 13:34-35
A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. "By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another."

The following "story" is an extended metaphor for what I believe classifies our friendships in this world.

There are three types of friends in this world.

Imagine you’re in a house.

You’re sitting in the living room on an old wooden chair. From your chair, you have a clear view through the window that overlooks your front lawn.

All of a sudden, you smell something burning. Before you can detect the source, smoke quickly fills the room.

You come to the realization that the house is on fire!

Your eyes catch the bright, orange flames growing by the second. Panic wells inside you and fear takes root. You decide to take action!

But for the sake of this metaphor, you can not move. You’re stuck, unable to leave your chair. You physically can not leave your house. It is your house. It is your problem, your issue. Your burning life.

You can see Friend #1 on the front lawn. They are waiving at you frantically, trying to get your attention. “Don’t worry!", Friend #1 says. “I’m going to call 911! They will be here soon and they can help you!” You give them a weak smile knowing that they could have done more to help you.

Friend #2 is on the front porch. You can see them jogging back and forth from the house to the hose, filling up a small bucket. Each time they empty the few gallons of water on the house, a single flame is extinguished, only to quickly be replaced by another, three times its size.
Back and forth they go. As they douse the flames, they look at you and smile. They even give you a thumbs up. But as they turn away to fill up the bucket, you can see their smile drop and their eyes lose emotion. This tasking is tedious to them.

And then there is Friend #3.

Friend #3 walks through the front door and heads straight for you. They quickly understand that you cannot leave the house. They do not try to distract you from what is happening or offer you fake comfort.. Friend #3 does not try to push you out the door and abandon your pain. 

Instead, Friend #3 pulls up a chair beside you. 

They see your face covered in sweat and tears, and soon their face mirrors yours. They take your hand and sit with you. Surrounded by the flames, Friend #3 endures the fire with you, until the flames subside and all but embers remain.

I know what you’re thinking, shouldn’t Friend #3 have dragged you out of the burning house? Why did they sit there, so useless?

Well, that is the thing about this burning house. It is a giant metaphor for the problems we encounter. Losing a loved one. Financial crisis. Terminal diagnosis. Business failure. All of the situations that cause our life to crumble, or burn away. More often than not, we are unable to “leave” our situation. We may try and pretend that it is not happening, but sooner or later we must deal with it. We have to sit there, with the walls being swallowed up in flames as we trudge through our current blight.

We all have many of Friend #1. I know I do. They let you know in a Facebook post that they are praying for you and they promise to help you in your time of need. They propose that the two of you should go out to dinner or coffee and catch up, but the invitation never sees fruition. Friend #1 is not a bad person, they just tend to avoid a deep relationship with you.

Friend #2 is easily spotted, for there are many of them. This friend catches up with you from time, offering you an ear to listen and sending you Bible verses of encouragement when they get the chance. Again, Friend #2 is not a bad person or a bad friend, but they only put in a little effort. More often than not, they meet with you or help you when it is only convenient for them. 

And Friend #3 is a rarity. They see you in your disaster. They recognize that you are drowning in sorrow. They see the flames swallowing up your life and they do not run away. Friend #3 does not offer petty help or pretend to feel your pain. They are real with you, emotionally available, true, and honest. Friend #3 will pull up a chair and sit with you. They go through the fire with you, right by your side.

It is hard to come by Friend #3. Aside from family, my Friend #3 List is a short one. But those friends are wonderful and they last a lifetime. They lighten the load. They help, not from obligation or hope for recognition, but from unconditional love and friendship. They overflow into your life.

I myself am guilty of being Friend #1 and Friend #2 in many of my relationships. I know that I need to overflow in my relationships as a friend, daughter, sister, and girlfriend. When you live a life that overflows, with joy or God, kindness, and compassion-you will build a connection with the people in this world.

To my Friend #3s, you know who you are. Know that I am utterly grateful for you and that I hope to be your Friend #3 as well.

- Happy Thursday! -

~Nicole <3

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