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Bible Faith Formation Ink Slingers Michelle Sacred Scripture Spiritual Growth

The Importance of Friendship

The Importance of Friendship
The Importance of FriendshipThere have been many times in my life that I have felt like I was a ship at sea struggling against the storm, wondering where land and safety might be. The storm raging around me, I was lost. The waves crashing again and again, I was in danger of sinking. Had it not been for the lighthouse upon the shore I may have never found my way to safety.

I believe that God puts people in our paths at just the right time. They are lighthouses to help guide us and lead us to safe shores. Friends can help ground us, help save our sanity, help us see the good in life, and help carry us through the most difficult times of our lives. While there are many in our world who believe they must stay guarded at all times, there are others who know and understand the beauty of developing and cherishing deep friendships.

I would dare to say that most of us have at least one person we call a friend, some of us have even more people we call friends. But do we truly believe that friendship is important? Do we only acknowledge our friends when we need something or do we make time for them even when it seems we don’t have much time to spare?

The Importance of FriendshipFriendship is important. Christ knew this well. We remember in the story of Mary and Martha that Jesus corrected Martha who was angry with Mary for simply sitting at Jesus’ feet and was not helping her with the preparations. Jesus simply says, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and bothered about so many things; but only one thing is necessary, for Mary has chosen the good part, which shall not be taken away from her.” (Luke 10:38-42)

How often do we neglect our friendships because we have too many other things to do?

We read later that Lazarus, Mary and Martha’s brother, also a friend of Jesus, had died. Jesus didn’t go immediately to him when He found out that Lazarus was ill. He didn’t go immediately so that His followers could believe in Him when they witnessed Him raise Lazarus from the dead. While Christ knew what was going to happen, as He asked Mary where they had taken Lazarus, something astounding happens… the Scriptures tell us, “Jesus wept.” (John 11:35)

The Importance of FriendshipChrist, who knew that His friend would be raised from the dead, was overcome with emotion and wept. Did He weep because His friend had died? Did He weep for those who mourned Lazarus? Did He weep for all of us? Perhaps it’s not important why Christ wept but rather it is important that He was there for those He loved and He showed true, deep emotion. His mere presence brought hope, but I imagine His gift of emotion {of love} helped others understand the true value of friendship.

How often do we hide our love and guard our emotions, unwilling to show our true hearts and souls to our friends, and unwilling to be completely there for them in their darkest hour?

It is only later in John15 that we come to understand Christ’s true teaching about the importance of friendship. He tells us, “Greater love has no one than this that one lay down his life for his friends.” While His friends could not understand the gravity of the teaching, Jesus knew that He would model this type of love and friendship by laying down His life for all of us. Soon the entire world would come to understand what true friendship was.

This is a difficult teaching to accept. What does it mean? Are we each called to die for our friends? Maybe the situation will arise that we will be called to make this ultimate sacrifice, but more than likely we will never be asked to do so. Instead, perhaps we are being called to “die to self” and to put others’ needs ahead of our own. We are being called to voluntarily serve one another. We are asked to set aside our selfish desires to be there heart and soul for our friends, especially in their darkest hours.

How often do we fail to die to ourselves so that our friends may live?

Friendship is important. Christ showed us not only how to be a friend but what is expected of us as friends. When we treat our friends well, when we place their lives above our own, we show that we value Jesus’ friendship. It is important that we choose our friends wisely and that we treat our friends well. Our friendships have the ability to help us heal; help us find the safety of the shore, and help lead us to Christ.

Are you neglecting your friendships? If so, today is a wonderful day to begin anew and to reconnect. What is holding you back?

When we honestly ask ourselves which person in our lives means the most to us, we often find that it is those who, instead of giving advice, solutions, or cures, have chosen rather to share our pain and touch our wounds with a warm and tender hand. The friend who can be silent with us in a moment of despair or confusion, who can stay with us in an hour of grief and bereavement, who can tolerate not knowing, not curing, not healing and face with us the reality of our powerlessness, that is a friend who cares. ~Henri Nouwen

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Domestic Church Feast Days Ink Slingers Michelle Saints Spiritual Growth

Oh Martha!

marthaToday is the feast day of St. Martha. Most of us know her from the Bible story of Mary and Martha. Jesus came to visit and while Mary sat at Jesus’ feet, Martha hurried around trying to make things perfect for her guest. When she asked Jesus to say something to her sister about the lack of help Mary was providing, Jesus said to her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and bothered about so many things; but only one thing is necessary, for Mary has chosen the good part, which shall not be taken away from her.” Luke 10: 41-42

This Bible story has always bothered me. You see, I am a Martha. I worry and stew over what needs to be done, what needs to be fixed, and what is lacking within our house. I grew up in a house that was always clean. Company could drop by without notice and my mother would not be embarrassed over the way our house looked. When things broke they were fixed immediately or replaced. There wasn’t dirty handprints on the windows, dust on the fans, milk spilled on the floor, toys everywhere, or something growing in the corner of the bathroom. No, our house was immaculate. I was raised that what people saw when they first walked in your door was how they would think of you forever. Given the fact that we have 13 people living in the space that is probably more suited for about 5 people, well, my house doesn’t resemble the house I grew up in at all.

It wasn’t until recently that I began to understand this story. Maybe it is my age. Maybe it’s the internet that allows me to get a glimpse into so many others’ houses to see that they live a lot like us. Or maybe it’s God working on my heart, but recently I have begun to not only feel but believe that all that stuff isn’t so important. Yes, it’s important that our houses are clean and that if company stops by they aren’t completely disgusted, but if the walls need to be painted or the kids have tracked mud up the steps once again, well, that’s ok. Those who are coming over are not coming to judge my house but to see us and spend time with us. I can’t tell you that I don’t worry at all, I do! But I can see how my reluctance to have people see our messes has cost us time with those who truly love us and want to spend time with us. That makes me sad.

handprint 1I think the most important part of my recent change of heart is this- my house is not just a house. It is a home. It is filled with lots of little people who make big messes. It is filled with lots of big people who make messes. It is filled with toys, clothes, school books, pets, flowers picked fresh from the yard, muddy footprints leading up the steps, handprints on the walls, mirrors, windows, and everything else. But it is also filled with love and laughter. Joy overflows from every opening in our home. There is light. There is happiness. There is God living among us in my home. People come to see these things when they come over. They don’t notice the mud as much as they notice the laughter. They don’t see the toys like they see the happiness shining in our children’s eyes. They don’t care about the handprints on the windows when beautiful dandelions are sitting in the prettiest vase we have on top of the mantle. No, none of those things that upset me so much matter as much as the love that emanates in our home.

It is hard to shake the need to be a Martha. I think many of us are hardwired to take care of the needs of others and to want things to be perfect. But those of us who are Marthas need to take a lesson from the Marys of the world. They are the ones who don’t miss a second of what is truly important. They are living in the moment, absorbing all the sights and sounds of what is happening around them. They are making memories and cherishing them. They are living and loving to the fullest. Yes, we Marthas can learn a thing or two from Mary.

This week when one of my best friends comes to see us I plan to not worry so much about making sure everything is perfect. I will make things comfortable for her but I plan to enjoy her company and not worry about the walls that need to be painted or the couch that practically swallows visitors whole. I’m not going to obsess over the things that I know she doesn’t even care about and that she won’t even notice. No, those things will not be on my radar this visit. This time I plan to be in the moment and love my friend with all my being.

Happy Saint Martha’s day! I pray that all of my fellow Marthas will have a very beautiful day today. Take a day off and enjoy those around you. Take in every moment and make memories without worrying about what needs to be done. It’s what Christ would want you to do.

a true friend