Dear Ginger: My BF or My BFF?

dear ginger

Dear Ginger,
Long story short: I asked a guy to a dance and didn’t know my best friend liked him. She was going to ask him! But I only learned that AFTER the guy and I  had a great time at the dance and decided to start dating. He is so sweet and is a great boyfriend.  My girl best friend thinks he has to make a choice between us now because she believes he could have had feelings for her if she asked him instead of me. She thinks maybe we should both be just friends with him, but if I break up with him now because of her I know it will hurt him. But if I don’t, I think she might get hurt. I’m so lost and confused… I don’t know what I should do. I’ve been praying so much about it, but every time I hang out with him I feel guilty now. I feel like there’s no right answer. Please help if you can!
-M

Dear M,

First of all – I REALLY feel for you. I hate that feeling of being in the middle of something, especially any relationship drama. Obviously both of these relationships are very important to you, as they should be. So again, I’m so sorry for the pain and confusion.

I have a group of high school girls who come to my house on Mondays for small group. I told them about your situation and they all agreed that this is a tough spot. I wanted to get their thoughts about the advice they might give a friend in the same situation. In the end we decided that the #1 first course of action is COMMUNICATION. This translates into some potential discomfort for a bit, but if you want to find yourself with both relationships, it’s the best thing. I think you have a few conversations in your immediate future.

1.) Pray for wisdom about which conversation to have first, that God would give you gentle words and a loving heart even if your girl BFF blames you for things. Sometimes we have to just listen and not try to defend ourselves- and that takes a ton of self-control. When someone accuses me of something that I don’t necessarily agree with, I want to lash back with excuses, reasons and a litany of defenses. The Gospel (the Good News that Jesus took my sin and punishment upon himself) reminds me that at the end of the day I’m a sinner and I mess up…  even when I don’t mean to. But it also means that I don’t have to defend my cause. I can choose humility and to lay down my wants and needs for someone else. Grrr – that can be really hard!

2.) Have a convo with you and your girl BFF. Start by praying WITH her. Then talk through the whole situation, tell her you want to hear everything from her perspective. Let her speak first. Once she’s had the chance to share everything, ask if you can tell things as you perceived them from your side of the story: “I wouldn’t have asked him if I knew you were going to, but I also can’t change the past. I can only move forward with the situation we have now. I value you and our friendship so much and want to do whatever I can to preserve it.” Also, ask your friend for permission to tell your BF what’s going on- if he’s in the middle of this situation, he deserves to know about it so he can respond however HE wants to. You two gals shouldn’t make all the decisions for him.

3.) If that feels intimidating, have the convo with a neutral 3rd party. I wouldn’t suggest someone your age. Instead consider asking an upperclassman you respect, a teacher, youth leader, even someone else’s mom. It’s important to have someone hear you and make sure you both are listening to each other.

4.) Keep your boyfriend in the loop. He should know what’s up! If he doesn’t know about your friend and her feelings for him, he can’t react/not react in a certain way. She will continue to perceive his behavior as flirting if he keeps acting the same way. This convo might need to happen with all three of you. YIKES. I know. But in order for your boyfriend to say how he feels and have your friend believe it, she might need to hear it in person. If this sounds crazy, consider bringing in the trusted person from step #3. Everyone needs to get everything out on the table.

None of this is easy, but it’s so vital for the health of your relationships. Drama happens when people ASSUME they know how someone else is feeling. Talk it out. Pray a bunch. Ask for wisdom. Hang in there.

“If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.” (James 1:5, NIV)

Following,
Ginger

P.S. Here are some other blog posts for you to consider in this situation!

Drama Free
Drama Free #2
Smokey The Bear
Losing a Friend
Strained Friendship

Grace in Relationships

I love my friends. But I also often struggle with feeling responsible for the behavior and happiness of everyone around me. Can you identify? I will pretty much do whatever it takes to keep the peace and avoid conflict. But I’ve taken that behavior to the extreme. I will offer five hundred restaurants for my group of friends to choose from, but I do not want to be the person in charge of making that final decision. That’s too much pressure. I could choose the WRONG place.

As a recovering “good girl” I’m learning that having grace-filled relationships doesn’t mean avoiding conflict at all costs. Ephesians 4 does remind us “keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace,” but I would be doing a disservice to my friendships if I never expressed my own opinion. Loving someone doesn’t mean just appeasing them. Love wants the best for another, even if that process is initially painful.

“Wounds made by a friend are intended to help, but an enemy’s kisses are too much to bear.” (Proverbs 27:6, GWT)

“It is so hard to receive criticism, but if you can’t you are showing one of the prime characteristics of a fool, according to Proverbs. Understandably, it is easier to receive criticism from someone who really loves you, but even then, it is always hard to listen to something that will bring you pain… I believe that one of the purposes of best friendships is to help one another recognize blind spots.” (Dee Brestin, The Friendships of Women)

My desire for approval sometimes puts me on the defense when it comes to receiving constructive criticism in my life. But thankfully, a new understanding of God’s grace is changing the way I give and receive love. His grace frees me from the need constant approval. Living in light of grace means that love is the highest priority in all relationships.

“Grace isn’t natural, but supernatural. The natural responses when you get hurt are either to strike back or to withdraw. When we instead step out of the way and allow God to work through us, responding with unfailing love, even perennials that have endured a deep freeze may lift up their wilting heads and live.” (Dee Brestin, The Friendships of Women)

How does God’s grace transform your relationships?

Following and learning,
Ginger

Heads Up!  A GRACEFUL GIVEAWAY! Two copies of “Graceful” the book by Emily Freeman are up for grabs this week. Follow this link for details and entry form!

“Because we are loved and known by a graceful God, we are free to relax our shoulders, unclench our fists, and open our hands to receive all he has to offer. And the best thing he has to offer is, quite simply, himself.” (Emily P. Freeman, Graceful: Letting go of your try-hard life.)

Heartaches, Together

I’ve made a conscious effort in the last few weeks to let down my walls and be vulnerable with lots of people in my life. I have always been eager to share frustrations, hopes, and past hurts with my friends. I don’t have a problem talking about personal pain, as long as it’s in the past. I struggle with sharing my current hurts. Because of that, I’m slowly but surely discovering that I’ve missed out on a huge blessing found in friendships and community: having someone to walk through the hard stuff with me NOW.

I shared struggles and fears with two different groups of women last week. I mustered all of my courage and kept sharing even when the tears threatened to steal my words. I don’t know why I’ve hesitated to share in the past. The outpouring of love and support received since sharing is so encouraging.

Handwritten notes, emails, texts, phone calls, specific questions… I am blown away by the support.

It’s true. Vulnerability hastens community.

I reconnected with an old friend this weekend. We bridged the gap created by our 19 year-old selves and became fast friends once more as women in our 30s. There were tears shed, hearts shared, and hours spent catching up on the years we’d let slip by. I’m so thankful for women who challenge me to seek restoration in relationships.

Our discussions last week about authentic community and sharpening friendships… they aren’t just theory or bullet points. I’m witnessing El Roi, the God Who Sees Me, change and grow my fragile confidence through the relationships all around me.

The heartaches have a way of pointing me back to the tender love of our God. And for that, I will always be thankful.

“And the God I’ve come to know by sheer grace, the Jesus I met in the grounds of my own self, has furiously loved me regardless of my state- grace or disgrace.  And why?  For His love is never, never, never based on our performance, never conditioned by our moods- of elation or depression.  The furious love of God knows no shadow of alteration or change.  It is reliable.  And always tender.” – Brennan Manning

Following,
Ginger

Thursday Tips: Staying Sharp

Genesis 1… God looks over EVERYTHING that He had made and says that it was “very good.”  Chapter 2 says that everything was completed and God rests.  God places Adam in the Garden and tells him to tend it and watch over it.  The garden is beautiful, there is no sin, and yet, note what God says… “IT IS NOT GOOD FOR MAN TO BE ALONE.”

We were designed for community. We all want to belong. That is one reason why social networking has been so successful: we want to be known – to feel a part of something. Fellowship is HUGE component of our journey.

“As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another…” (Proverbs 27:17, NIRV)

In order for consistent growth to occur, we need to be sharpened on a consistent basis. So who challenges you? Who stands beside you?  Who do you challenge? This level of accountability won’t happen over night but there are lots of different relationships that can help us spiritually. A mentor, someone to disciple you, an accountability partner- they have different titles, but the goal is the same… to keep you sharp. S.H.A.R.P.

1. S = Seek out the right “THEY.”

I pinned the following on Pinterest last week…

Consider your “go-to” numbers in your cell phone. Are those numbers people who challenge you? It’s easy to play it safe and surface, I would challenge us all to surround ourselves with relationships that will sharpen us.

2. H = Honor the commitment.

Life is hard!  School, work, homework, conflicts and even friendships can even be a source of the load we carry.

Spiritual commitments take an effort to maintain. We usually either forget about them after a while or simply break them.  It’s hard to manage life and our own relationship with God, much less continued relationship with others. But remember, the Bible says we need one another!

“Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works.  And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.” (Hebrews 10:24-25, NLT)

3. A = Ask hard questions.

As hard as it can be to share, it can sometimes be just as hard to be the one asking the tough questions.  Trust me, it’s hard to find someone who will commit to keeping you accountable. I tried several times in high school but I didn’t know what to do with my set “accountability” time.  Sometimes it starts with one person being able to ask the hard questions like: “I know you’ve been really down lately. I want to help, what’s going on?” Or, “How are things going with your step-dad?”

You can talk about anything and everything that relates to your journey. The time doesn’t always have to be about the tough subjects, but it should include them. Talk about the things God has been teaching you or the victories you’ve had in your struggles.

“The slap of a friend can be trusted to help you, but the kisses of an enemy are nothing but lies.”  (Proverbs 27:6, NCV)

4. R = Respond honestly.

It can be embarrassing to reveal your deep, dark secrets to a friend, especially the first time. “She’ll think I’m gross, stupid, unchristian.” The fear of a friend perceiving us in a negative light keeps us from taking that step of admitting our weaknesses.  While most people act like they have it all together, everyone is struggling with sins and weaknesses of their own.

-Sin has LESS power once we confess and bring it to the light!
-Keeping things secret causes them to grow and fester like infected wounds, bringing more pain until the wound is treated.
-Accountability is only effective IF it’s truthful.

“Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed.” (James 5:16a, NIV)

5. P = Pray together AND for each other.

Once you’ve both had a chance to talk make sure to pray while you are together. Maybe even say a short prayer before you start sharing to get focused on this time together. Also, pray for one another in-between your meetings. Consider texting to say, “Praying for you today!”

“Since we are all one body in Christ, we belong to each other, and each of us needs all the others.” (Romans 12:5, NLT)

Remember – quality friendships don’t just happen, they require intentionality.  Since we are all imperfect, even good friends will hurt one another.  Forgiveness is a must!

Following,
Ginger

Smokey the Bear

Dramatic, yes. Drama, no.

Yesterday we discussed the makings of authentic community, so I thought it might be prudent to talk about the ways that we can keep the drama at bay. Say it with me…

Only you can prevent relationship drama. (Did you hear Smokey the Bear saying it? That’s how I hear it in my head.)

Relationships are imperfect because the people involved are imperfect. And while we cannot control the behavior of others,(wouldn’t that be lovely?!) we DO get to choose our responses and reactions. Let’s tackle the drama…

1. Ditch the unrealistic expectations.

-People will disappoint us.
-When someone fails you, don’t be stunned.
-The people closest to us have the greatest ability to hurt us.
-When a person does let us down, it is usually not intentional.
-Two options: Cover an offense with love or Confront in love.

Most hurts are not a reflection of the person’s dislike for us, but rather a reflection of a hardship in the person’s life or a character flaw. For the forgetful friend I could text “Are we still on for this afternoon?” rather than demanding something she cannot give.

“Better is open rebuke than hidden love.” Proverbs 27:5 and “Wounds from a friend can be trusted.” (Proverbs 27:6)

2. Run from gossip.

This should go without saying, right? Even if the world says that this is one vice worth indulging in, the Word says otherwise.

“Don’t spread gossip and rumors. “Don’t just stand by when your neighbor’s life is in danger. I am GOD.” (Leviticus 19:16, MSG)

“Listening to gossip is like eating cheap candy; do you really want junk like that in your belly?” (Proverbs 18:8, MSG)

“Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” (Ephesians 4:29, NIV)

“When you are angry, do not sin, and be sure to stop being angry before the end of the day. Do not give the devil away to defeat you.” (Ephesians 4:26, NCV)

And while we are at it, how about: But in your anger, do not post on facebook. Let’s avoid airing thinly veiled shock on social media. “Sarah cannot believe how careless some people can be.” Don’t hate. Communicate. WITH that person.

3. Abandon grudges.

“Forgive the things you are holding against one another. Forgive, just as the Lord forgave you.” Colossians 3:13b (NIrV)

“Relationships don’t thrive because the guilty are punished but because the innocent are merciful.” – Max Lucado

Don’t simmer. Be a communication winner. Bitterness destroys people. Give grace. Just because someone doesn’t act or respond in the way I think they should doesn’t mean they don’t love or care about me.

Hatred stirs up quarrels, but love makes up for all offenses.” (Proverbs 10:12, NLT)

“Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” (Ephesians 4:31-32, NIV)

4. Make peace with rejection.

FRIENDSHIPS are seasonal. People come in and out of our lives for all sorts of reasons. Sometimes you just have to bounce the ball and see if they bounce it back.

If you truly believe this:“And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.” (Romans 8:28, NLT) …then you see rejection as the reset button.

“Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.” (Ephesians 4:3, NIV)

“The dynamics of a relationship can feel like a ‘source of life’ – Then, when that person withdraws slightly, it feels like death. But instead, this is bondage. Only Jesus is our source of life…” The Friendships of Women – by Dee Brestin

5. Add relationships that bring life.

“Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed. If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble.” (Ecclesiastes 4:9-10, NLT)

“As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.” (Proverbs 27:17, NIrV)

Ever tried to cut with a dull knife? Frustrating! Properly sharpened knives take that which was dull & ineffective and makes it highly functioning and highly effective! Tomorrow we will talk at length about cultivating friendships that keep us sharpened!

Until then, say it with me: PROUD TO BE, DRAMA FREE.

Following,
Ginger

Authentic

Most of us have plenty of friends on Facebook, contacts in our phone, and Christmas cards to send. But how many of us can honestly say that we have deep and authentic community right now in real-time? I love my girlfriends from college and camp, but I feel God calling me to love the people I interact with on a weekly basis. How do we move from acquaintances to friends?

What brings authentic community? I’m sure there are a ton of answers to this question, but I’m just going to touch on three today.

1. A humble heart. The opposite of a humble heart is a prideful heart. When I have judgment in my heart, I stop listening and begin doing all the talking. I have all the answers. Or I shut down and begin making my grocery list – determining that I’ve heard this before, thank you very much.

Instead, I should focus on listening. A good listener…
-asks intentional questions
-leaves space for an answer
-responds with interest
-remembers

Struggling with how to move a friendship from surface level to one with depth? Try out this set of 5 questions below:

-Who are your Heroes? (Who do you admire?  Who has shaped you into the person you are today?)
-What is your Heritage?  (Tell me about your family, life growing up, your heritage of faith.)
-What are your Highlights?  (What are the high points in your life story? – the things that thrilled you, still put a smile on your face)
-What are your Heartaches? (What has hurt your heart in this life?)
-What are your Hopes? (What are your hopes, dreams, goals, or vision for the future?)

2. A willingness to share. Sometimes I just don’t want to describe the blackness in my own heart. Five other people have already spoken and I find myself thinking, “Ginger, no one needs to hear what you have to say.” And yet, I know that in order to feel connected to my groups I am going to have to be vulnerable with my heart. I can’t live in the land of “I’m fine.” The best times of community that I’ve experienced this past year have come about when someone is willing to say, “I’m not fine and I need you guys to pray for me.” Vulnerability hastens connection with others.

3. A patient spirit. I want things to run on my timeline. They should begin and end as I see fit. This leaves little room for God to move in HIS timing. This also leaves little room for connecting, listening, and growing closer as a community. This can also refer to how quickly I want community to be created. When things don’t happen the way I want, I begin to think that maybe this group isn’t for me. False. Maybe I’m the very reason that things don’t feel complete!

These three items tend to be huge roadblocks for me when it comes to deepening relationships. Relationships are messy and require a lot of effort and energy. I’m not going to get super close to ten people all at once, but I can take steps to know more about the people in my small group than just who is flying out-of-town this weekend.

Random suggestions for making friends…
1. Ask someone to lunch.
2. Be intentional when you see them. “How was your trip to see your family? I remember you mentioned that the last time I saw you!”
3. Compliment and encourage.
4. Take the first steps to share in your small group.
5. Text or call someone from your Bible Study and follow-up on mentioned prayer requests.
6. Offer up an “extra” ticket to something. “We just happen to have two more tickets to the ball game on Saturday and wondered if you guys would be interested in going?
7. Find common interests and run with it. You better believe that the next stranger to mention their love for Public Radio is going to be my new BFF. ;)
8. Pray that God would bring important relationships into your life this year.
9. Be AUTHENTIC.

Love from the center of who you are; don’t fake it. Run for dear life from evil; hold on for dear life to good. Be good friends who love deeply; practice playing second fiddle. Don’t burn out; keep yourselves fueled and aflame. Be alert servants of the Master, cheerfully expectant. Don’t quit in hard times; pray all the harder. Help needy Christians; be inventive in hospitality.

Bless your enemies; no cursing under your breath. Laugh with your happy friends when they’re happy; share tears when they’re down. Get along with each other; don’t be stuck-up. Make friends with nobodies; don’t be the great somebody. Don’t hit back; discover beauty in everyone. If you’ve got it in you, get along with everybody. Don’t insist on getting even; that’s not for you to do. “I’ll do the judging,” says God. “I’ll take care of it.”

Our Scriptures tell us that if you see your enemy hungry, go buy that person lunch, or if he’s thirsty, get him a drink. Your generosity will surprise him with goodness. Don’t let evil get the best of you; get the best of evil by doing good. (Romans 12:9-21, MSG)

Following and learning,
Ginger

One Thing

I attended an amazing conference in North Carolina this past weekend. My brain and heart are still unpacking all of the lessons I heard, the many good things to remember and record in my journal. But this weekend wasn’t what I’d expected.

I did not meet with a book publisher this weekend. I was on the top of the waiting list. I spent HOURS preparing my proposal last week. I furiously finished drafts and letters and chapters… and I never got the call. I didn’t expect that to happen. Initially, that was the one thing that I wanted most from the conference.

But I wouldn’t trade this weekend for anything in the world. For two days I sat at the feet of Jesus. This try-hard good girl is so exhausted from keeping it together.

Confession: I have always resented the Mary half of Lazarus’s sister team. There was so much to DO. How could Mary sit there and let Martha DO EVERYTHING?
As they continued their travel, Jesus entered a village. A woman by the name of Martha welcomed him and made him feel quite at home. She had a sister, Mary, who sat before the Master, hanging on every word he said. But Martha was pulled away by all she had to do in the kitchen. Later, she stepped in, interrupting them. “Master, don’t you care that my sister has abandoned the kitchen to me? Tell her to lend me a hand.”

 The Master said, “Martha, dear Martha, you’re fussing far too much and getting yourself worked up over nothing. One thing only is essential, and Mary has chosen it—it’s the main course, and won’t be taken from her.

Luke 10:38-42, The Message Translation

This weekend Jesus said in many words to my resentful heart,“GINGER, you are worried and upset about many things. Only one thing is essential…”

I have so many “many things” on my to-do list all of the time. It never ends and I never feel I’m enough.

Today I’m at peace with the ONE THING. I’m at peace with His hand in my life. I’m learning how hard it is to rest when I hold onto my plans and dreams with an iron fist. When we trust Him, we find REST in Him.
Rather than anything on your to-do list, He wants YOU today.
Following and learning,

Ginger

 

Dear Ginger: Losing My Friendship?

Dear Ginger,

My best friend has been pushing me away a lot recently. I have asked her if I did anything to make her not want to be friends anymore, but she says nothing has happened. I don’t want to lose her as a friend, but I don’t know what to do. Any advice? -A

A – I am so sorry that your friendship seems to be filled with unknown conflict. That’s such an uncomfortable feeling. I think the hardest part about relationships is that we only get to control half of the behavior in them. I often think how much less conflict I would have in my life if I could just choose how my friends or family members act! But you don’t get to choose how your friend acts or behaves, you only get to choose your response. I think that can be both freeing and very frustrating at the same time.

I know from experience.

One of my best girlfriends and I went from hanging out every day to barely speaking in a matter of just a few months. There wasn’t a fight. One of us wasn’t jealous of the other. We just stopped hanging out and I didn’t really know why. I kept asking if I had done something wrong. My friend always shrugged it off and acted like our friendship wasn’t really that different. It felt like every time I tried to talk about the distance in our friendship, she just pushed me away even further. I felt hurt and confused. I cried to my mom about it a few times. But eventually I just decided that maybe she needed time. So I stopped checking in every day.

What I didn’t know was that she was going through some really tough stuff with her family. She felt uncomfortable sharing about her home life so she just started shutting people out. Because I asked so many questions she felt like she was lying to me all the time, and she didn’t want to do that. Rather than sharing her hurt, she tried to protect her heart by putting up guards.

I’m happy to say that my friend and I eventually rebuilt our relationship. I am so thankful that she’s in my life. But that season of distance is now a part of our journey as friends. We both wish it could have been different, but all we can do is work toward continuing to build the friendship we have now.

I say all this to let you know that I hear what you are saying and I’ve felt that sort of confusion and pain over a friendship. That season of struggles taught me a few things that I wish I would have known so many years ago.

Give her time. My friend needed to know I was for her, that I would support her, and that I would be there for her whenever she was ready. Instead she felt pressured, frustrated, and like she was being forced into a corner. Patience can bring peace to a tense situation. See Proverbs 15:18…

“A hot-tempered man stirs up dissension, but a patient man calms a quarrel.” Proverbs 15:18, NIV

Be careful about hanging your happiness on a friendship or relationship. Of course it’s sad to see any relationship change, but we have to know that some friendships are seasonal. This situation may or may not be resolved the way you are hoping. Will you still be able to find joy in the life God has given you even if this friendship doesn’t look the way it always has? Placing our ultimate expectations on anyone but God can lead to some major disappointment and heartache.

“My soul, wait thou only upon God; for my expectation is from him.” Psalm 62:5, KJV

Pray for your friendship. It’s very possible that your friend is going through something that she can’t share. Pray that God would give you the words to say at just the right time. Pray that God would show you if you’ve been in error in some way. Pray that God would restore your friendship. And then ask that He would give you the strength to trust Him no matter what happens.

“And those who know your name put their trust in you,
 for you, O Lord, have not forsaken those who seek you.” Psalm 9:10, ESV

A- I’m praying for you and your friend. Hang in there.

Following,
Ginger

Intentional

I spent Friday evening in the presence of women that I have known for several years.  We used to see each other six days a week and now have had to make do with once a month because life is full of change.  We’ve gone through a lot together in the past five years.

Each of us is still going through a lot, but the occurrences are in three separate spaces.  In the first hour we talked about everything from vacations and plans for the year to television shows and responsibilities.  For the rest of the evening we began to share our hearts.  We each voiced our worries, our struggles, and our weaknesses.  The listeners would nod and ask and press the speaker to honesty.  There weren’t tears this time, but there might be next time.

I value our time together so much because it reminds me of what we talked about on Friday, I’m not in this alone.  I shared things that I haven’t even shared with myself because I was being asked the right questions… the hard questions.

Better together.

Do you have a network?  I talked about this a few months ago, but wanted to make sure I pointed it out just in case you didn’t catch it the first time.  Having wise counsel in your life is so important at every stage.  I hope there is never a point in my life where I assume that my job is just to give advice and never to receive wisdom from others.  I’m so thankful for these women who are willing to ask me the challenging and pointed questions that I need.

“Where there is no counsel, the people fall; but in the multitude of counselors there is safety.” Proverbs 11:14

“A wise man is strong, yes, a man of knowledge increases strength; for by wise counsel you will wage your own war, and in a multitude of counselors there is safety.” Proverbs 24:5

“Every purpose is established by counsel; by wise counsel wage war.” Proverbs 20:18

“Without counsel, plans go awry, but in the multitude of counselors they are established.” Proverbs 15:22

“Listen to counsel and receive instruction, that you may be wise in your latter days.” Proverbs 19:20

Get intentional with your friendships.  Locate a strong network of people who will provide wise counsel in your life.  Don’t go this alone!

Following,
Ginger

Dear Abby.

two week series on learning from the past and looking to the future…

Dear 20-year-old Abby,

I know you don’t think you have done anything wrong, but usually when you feel that way it means you probably have. If you are worried about a friend or your friendship do something about it before it’s too late. Now, you have a friend standing in front of you and you have two choices. Fight back with hurtful words and actions or take a step back. Think. Why is she really acting this way? Try to find some perspective and understanding in all this. Try to somehow (even in the heat of the moment) set aside your own feelings for someone else’s.

In Peter’s first letter he wrote:

“Finally, all of you, be of one mind, sympathetic, loving toward one another, compassionate, humble. Do not return evil for evil, or insult for insult; but, on the contrary, a blessing, because to this you were called, that you might inherit a blessing. For whoever would love life and see good days must keep the tongue from evil and the lips from speaking deceit, must turn from evil and do good, seek peace and follow after it.” (1 Peter: 8-11)

When I read this I think I can and am trying to 100% live my life this way. Then I think back of a time when I didn’t. My junior year of college I had a falling out with not one, but two close friends. It was two separate instances and the girls didn’t know one another. It was really hard for me to work through the why’s and what-if’s of all that happened that year. I tend to attribute my thought process at that time as naïve, but really I think most of the problem was that I was being self-centered. I didn’t care enough about my friends’ feelings. I tried to talk to them and work it out, but when you are only hoping to fix problems on your own terms things aren’t going to work out.  Before I knew it some of the meanest things anyone has ever said to me were coming my way. I didn’t do as Jesus would have. I returned the insults. I didn’t turn and do good. I really wish I had.

There are two more things I wish I had done. I wish I had realized sooner there were as serious of problems as there were. With one friend, I found out several months later there was so much more going on in her personal life than I knew about. She didn’t tell me or ask for my support. As a friend, I feel like I should have known anyway, but she was shutting me out. One of the main reasons God gave us friends was so we could support and lift each other up. Sometimes we can fall a bit short. Just because a friend doesn’t realize something is wrong does not mean you can’t still reach out to them.

I wish I had realized then more of the type of friend I was being. It was not my intention in any way to not be as good of a friend as I should have. One thing that some of my closest friends and I remind each other of is that we all have the same best friend. We can call on him anywhere at any time of day. You know who I am talking about! God always listens and he always provides guidance in his written words. He is the best example of a true friend. Forgiving, loving, caring, fair, kind, gentle… and the list could go on for days. We’re asked to be his disciples and by being a good friend, I feel closer to him. I feel I am doing something he has put me here on earth to do. To act as he would and provide support and love like he does is what my goal is. I now know how much of a blessing friends truly are. I am so thankful for my friends and I ask God to continue to help me to be as good of a friend to them as he is to me.

-Abby

Hey there! I’m Abby Ingle. I’m so happy to get to share a little something with you today. I currently live in Phoenix with my husband and two super cute beagles. I met Ginger from playing bunco together, yes- Bunco. [It’s not just for old ladies :)] She is such an inspiring person and I love this website. I check in and read her posts all the time. It reminds me of my spiritual path and helps me tremendously to know I’m not the only one who falters. My purpose today is to just give a little insight into what friendship means to me and how it plays a role in our spiritual paths. Follow my journey over at The Newlywed Way of Life.