One of the greatest gifts that I have been given, this side of heaven, is the gift of good friends. Faithful friends. Loving friends. Encouraging friends. Honest friends.
2 of my dearest friends have had birthdays within the past month ... Monica turned the big 4-0 and Susie is just one year short of the big 6-0. How I love being friends with these women!
Let me tell you about Monica ...
Monica is young and filled with passion and enthusiasm. She is participating in a Triathlon this week-end and let me just say ... her body makes me groan with envy. All size 2 of her! Monica has stood tough through great physical challenges and her body’s inability to produce another baby. Through tears, Monica has prayed in faith.
She is also the most creative genius that I know! She takes my words and makes them look vibrant and glorious! And, Monica has latched onto the joy of being thankful for what she has been given ... an amazing husband and an active, world-changing 7 year old boy!
And then there is Susie ...
Susie and I have been friends since the 5th grade. And since she is just one year short of 60, you know where that leaves me! Knocking on the door of 60 as well!
Susie has the heart of a cheerleader – she cheers me on to greater victories. She is in the delightful habit of holding up my arms and speaking words of encouragement and joy over my life. Susie was raised in the home of an alcoholic but holds no residual pain or bitterness. Susie has raised 3 incredible kids and now is experiencing the pure enchantment of being a grandmother to 4 little people. Susie is organized, cheerful and loves Jesus with her whole heart. And may I just say ... she is not much bigger than Monica?! I believe that she could still fit in her cheerleading uniform from 40+ years ago. Arg-g-g-g-g-g!!
Do you have a Susie or a Monica in your life? I pray that you do because healthy, hopeful women like these two are able to give sparkle to dreary days. The “Susie’s” and “Monica’s” of life lend stability to roller coaster events. They are gifts ... but then ... I believe that I already told you that.
In honor of Susie and Monica, as a very small written token of what they mean to me, I decided to share with you some attributes that create truly great friendships. Look for people who have embraced these healthy characteristics and choose them as your closest friends. Also, may I humbly say, endeavor to develop these traits in your own life because if you do, you will have a bevy of friends too numerous to count!
1. Close your mouth. Be a friend who refuses to gossip about others. When the conversation turns to gossip or judgment, be the first to insert a word of kindness. When others are slicing and dicing the reputation of someone, or are participating in an assassination attempt on a friend’s life and then throw verbal garbage on a person made in the image of Christ, close your mouth. Disapprove of and cast a dissenting vote on this type of behavior.
2. Open your mouth. Look for opportunities to be sincere and liberal in offering words of encouragement and fortitude. A true friend, a faithful friend, not only refuses to gossip but determines to regularly give gifts of the verbal kind.
- “You mean the world to me ...”
- “I see Jesus in you ...”
- “You are one of my dearest friends ...”
- “What would I do without you?”
3. When push comes to shove, choose to carry instead. There will be times in every relationship when there is tension or opposing points of view. During those strained moments of relationship, choose to be the bigger person and carry the weight of the friendship. Take your friend out to lunch, give the friend a heartfelt gift, even suggest that you pray together. The first one to forgive always wins. Always.
4. Don’t overreact. True friends have the ability to keep things in their proper perspective and then to believe the best in spite of disappointment. If your friend cancels a coffee date ... don’t overreact. If your friend forgets your birthday ... don’t overreact. If your friend does all the talking when you need someone to listen to you ... don’t overreact. Always remember that love covers a multitude of sins so rather than overreact ... over love! It works every time!
5. Don’t underreact. True friends respond with compassion and actions of kindness when life is falling apart for a friend. Don’t ignore the pain or disappointment of your kindred spirit, but respond with words of concern and deeds of tender care when they need it the most. Believe me, these seeds of love will be returned to you one hundred fold!
6. Pray. The greatest gift you can give to another human being is the commitment to pray for them. Pray for them on their birthdays and anniversaries. Pray for their children and grandchildren. Pray for their spouses. Pray for their bosses. Pray for their finances and for their health. And most of all, be thankful for them. Friends are a gift. A heavenly gift.
“I gave thanks to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you, Susie and Monica, since I heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and the love which you have for all the saints because of the hope laid up for you in heaven ...
For this reason, also, Susie and Monica, since the day I heard of it, I have not ceased to pray for you and to ask that you, Susie and Monica, may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding.
That you, Susie and Monica, would walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please Him in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; strengthened with all power, according to His glorious might, for the attaining of all steadfastness and patience.” – Colossians 1:3&4, 9-11