YouVersion reading for Day 12 of the Daniel Fast: 2 Corinthians 1
I think I never learned to make friends when I was a little girl. Oh, I knew lots of people, but that's not the same as being friends.
Over the years, I've learned that making close friendships requires a little effort and a lot of openness. And that's not easy if you're super busy with "stuff." It's also not easy if you don't like being honest about your life, if you want to look like you pretty much "have it all together."
And that was me. Busy. Nearly every night of the week, with church, church meetings, church events, and school events for the kids. When I had a night off, I just wanted to crash in front of the T.V. Even when I would have preferred to spend time with people, I didn't have the energy to organize get-togethers.
And although I knew I wasn't perfect, I didn't want to expose my imperfections to the world.
So I joined Life Groups, but I didn't really make connections, and I worked in ministries, but no one knew me. People liked me, but I didn't have true friends.
Duane and I did get invited to large parties, but we didn't mingle well and so usually declined. And so we waited for someone to invite us to their home for dinner or coffee or dessert.
The thing is, we were lonely. And we weren't alone. Apparently other people were waiting for an invitation.
I bring this up because last night, nearly every woman in my life group said she joined because she wants to form friendships. Some have friends outside the church and really want friendships with women who share their faith. Others just want to have friends in the church.
I say it all the time, because I know it's true, but we need each other. We need each other when things are going well, and we need each other when we're in crisis. And the thing is, we never know when the next crisis will show up.
But this isn't just about crisis care. Close friends challenge each other to live more authentically, to be more like Christ. They remind each other of God's love. They encourage one another to take risks. They comfort one another in disappointment.
We learn from each other's experiences. We learn to live for God as we watch others live for God.
In 2 Corinthians 1, Paul begins to tell about the struggles he and his fellow travelers have walked through, and he says, "We are confident that as you share in our suffering, you will also share in the comfort God gives us." He continues, "We were crushed and overwhelmed beyond our ability to endure, and we thought we would never live through it. In fact, we expected to die. But as a result, we stopped relying on ourselves and learned to rely only on God, who raises the dead."
As I see my friend, who I know, who I see suffering, walk through difficulty, and as she draws her strength from God, I learn to rely on God in my own life. She doesn't hide her pain from me. In fact, she shares it. She shares her doubts and her fears and her prayers. And so we grow together, and we praise God together for deliverance.
These are the types of friendships I long for. These are the kinds of friendships that build the church of Jesus Christ.
It's not easy to build these kinds of friendships. They take time. They take effort. Sometimes they're uncomfortable.
But they're worth it.
My question for the day: What am I doing to build and strengthen these friendships in my life?