Tuesday, April 4, 2017

The Gift of Being "Un-Fine"

Friendship is tricky.
I remember from a young age always wanting people to like me.
I remember the neighborhood kids.
I remember the girl I would sit next to on the bus.
I remember the girls I would sit next to at lunch time.
I remember the middle school days of trying to figure out who was my best friend and who was not.
I remember the high school days of being one of the mean girls and purposefully ignoring a friend because someone else told me to and I didn't want that friend to be mad at me.

Friendship can be a tricky web of hurt feelings, trying to fit in, trying to find acceptance/approval and yet this is the exact opposite of how our holy God defined friendship for us.

Jesus is the ultimate example of the best kind of friend we could ever have.

Jesus went first.
Jesus loved us before we were capable of loving him.
Jesus didn't hold grudges.
Jesus forgave us when we denied him to his face.
Jesus was incredibly patient with us.
Even while we refused to let him into our hearts, he never stopped knocking.
Jesus knew when to give us space. He never stopped loving us, but he backed away when we needed time to figure out the best way to receive his love. 
Jesus was always able to see the best in us and he gave up his life so that we can live out the best version of ourselves by the power of His blood.

His death on the cross saved us from slavery to sin and gave us freedom.

And yet – there are many places in our lives we are still learning how to be free.

Friendship is one of those for me.

One of the things I have learned along the way is that in order to be a friend you have to be willing to show your ugly/ "un-fineness".

In a brand-new book,  Never Unfriended by  Lisa Jo Baker, this is one of many topics that are covered.

And it is so closely related to what Christianity and salvation are all about.
So many of us are so unwilling to answer the question – "How are you?" with the not so expected answer of, "I'm not fine".

When we learn that the God of the universe is holy and that we are not because of our sin – the first thing we have to do is announce to him that we are not fine and that we need him. And when we admit this – and we learn about Jesus and what he has done for us, we are able to enter into the holiest and most beautiful friendship ever.

I love that this book – which completely meets its promise of teaching "The Secret to Finding and Keeping Lasting Friendships" – does not talk about surfacy issues.

If you're looking for a book that simply talks about how to be kind and how to have good communication skills and how to be popular, this is not the book.

This book is meaty, raw and deep. It touches on so many areas where we have been wounded with regards to friendship. And it tells us how to move on from there so that we can be the kind of friend that nourishes, strengthens and blesses others.  

Lisa Jo states in her book – "I am convinced that the shortest distance between strangers and friends is a shared story about our broken places. Nothing is riskier or more vulnerable than cracking open the doors of our messy, guest – unready homes, let alone the doors of our actual lives. We get so used to being neatly package people in stories and families that we can forget how to be anything but "fine" when someone asks."

She shares a story of how a friend of hers connected with her once and offered to bring her dinner. She indicates that the first thing she did was reply – "No thanks, we're fine".

Because isn't that what we do? We don't want to admit that we have needs and that we need help in that we're not always fine.

So Lisa-Jo explains that she decided to pick the phone back up, call her friend and say 4 words – "Thank you, yes please."

And she said that the kindness of her friend was a kind of kindness that can "unglue" a person.
And she is so right.

This year I have had several things happen in my life which have rendered me to a point of having asked for help. I broke my foot which kept me out of work for 3 weeks and relying on others for 6. And I'm just coming out of a season of illness where my family struggled and battled being sick for 3 weeks. When I broke my foot, I sat in my living room angry with God for a while. There was a women's retreat coming up, there were things to get done around the house and I didn't understand why God would allow me to not be able to walk. God was very clear with me and told me that he had a lesson for me to learn. So I texted a friend and asked her if she would set up a meal train for me. I was nervous that no one was sign up for it. I don't even know why I felt that way! I belong to a church where I have many people who love me – but this was the first time where I had to openly ask for a need to be met. It wasn't long before the meal train was full and I sat back and received complete kindness, graciousness and love from the people in my church because I was willing to say that "I was not fine".

And I agree with Lisa Jo that this type of kindness "unglues", a person.
This kind of kindness unclenches the fists of control that we try to have when it comes to friendships and allowing others to see who we really are. This kind of friendship is "what grace tastes like" (Lisa Jo Baker).

If you want to read more and learn more and be completely strengths in an empowered and excited about friendship – I encourage you to check out this amazing book.

Never Unfriended


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