One day recently I was out shopping and listened to a conversation between the person I was with and an acquaintance we bumped into. Upon being asked how their family is, this friend said that they are busy, busy, busy without missing a beat and listed a few things that are making their lives chaotic. This instance is not unique, as just today another friend started off a text saying that her summer is busy, busy, busy, and I’ve had similar conversations with other people recently and in the past. My schedule can be pretty packed sometimes too, but the beginning of this summer has been a slow, relaxing time for me, and it's gotten me thinking about the things that keep us busy, and why we fill our schedules to the brim.
I think sometimes we glorify the idea of being busy. Like maybe it makes us important, wanted, or accepted. Like we have an important place in this world that cannot be filled by anyone else. Well, in reality all of those things are always true about you. But you don't have to be busy or have lots of commitments or meetings for them to be so. God values you, accepts you as you are, and has created you to fill a role in this earth that no one else can. He creates some people, like pastors, to speak to large numbers of people, and He creates others, like stay-at-home moms to have a huge impact on a smaller number of people. On the flip side, sometimes we stay so busy because we feel like we cannot say no to anyone or anything that comes along. In this instance it takes humility to recognize that running around constantly wears on our souls, and many of these things can go on without us. Saying no does not make you weak; it just means that you recognize your God-given limits. An in actuality, these limits are a gift to us so that we hand things over to God and rely on His unlimited strength.
Being busy can be good, because you may be reaching lots of people for Christ. But have you ever thought about what you might be missing out on? That's what I've been thinking about recently. During the midst of a busy semester, I miss out on some of the richness of my relationship with Christ, due to rushed devotion times and shortened prayers. I miss out on deeper relationships with some friends because I have our coffee dates penciled in to a very particular, and slim spot on my calendar. My mind becomes full of to-dos, and I miss out on some of the peace of Christ. There's nothing inherently wrong with being busy, and certainly some seasons are naturally busier than others. But there is also great value in having time to slow down and dwell on Christ, on your growth, your relationships, and needs around you. Having extra time allows us to bless others as needs arise, rather than in ways that could be scheduled out three weeks in advance.
Will you ever be able to eliminate all of your commitments in such a way that you can spend unlimited time on your devotions and on coffee dates each day? Probably not. But maybe you could carve out a couple hours each week to use mindfully, based on your personal needs for rest and devotion, or the needs of those around you. Being constantly swamped with commitments doesn't make you a better person, but neither does avoiding commitments completely. What I'm suggesting is that you look at the ways you're using your time. Are you allocating it to different people and tasks? Do the ways you spend your time honor God? Do they bring you closer to Him, and give you time to meditate on Him and His Word? Is there anything that keeps you busy that is pulling you away from Christ, due to the people you're around or the stress it causes? Take a look and see if you can change anything about it.
“So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.”
1 Corinthians 10:31
Written by: Emily
Within this past year, I've had the Jesus-given opportunity to really meet and come across some amazing, genuine people. My heart loves these people in my life. I see world changers in these people. In fact, these people loved me so well, it made me revaluate my whole life. They made me look at the past, and all those moments (good and bad) that lead me to where I am now. While looking at these life moments, I recently came to see how broken I was. I began to look at relationships in my past and I am not just talking about all those ex's that I had. It was all people. I can be a very analytic person at times. The realization I came to was that I wasn't able to open up with people. I wasn't being open because I didn't trust people. You can't be vulnerable if you don't trust people.
James 5:16,"Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working."
For any good friendship or relationship to flourish, you need to be able to be vulnerable. You need a safe place. That person you can, vent to, cry to and love on you, wanting nothing in return. I never had that safe place. Especially, as a kid growing up. My parents were both absent in their own worlds. I was very much isolated. Every goodbye in my life up until now, had been the bad types of goodbye. Goodbyes because of other people's choices that lead them to gangs, death, just leaving or jail. My walls slowly built up from a young age. I trusted no one, not even Jesus at the time.
Proverbs 16:24,"Gracious words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones."
So, this year when I had these godly people placed in my path here at the dream center in LA on our campus and within leadership school, I didn't understand why I couldn't be vulnerable in friendships. I love people, you need to know that. My life passion is to just love on people. But, I couldn't get deeper in relationships. I have many friends, many great people in my life around me and with me daily. God fearing, godly people and trustworthy. They all just want me to succeed in life. However, it took one person to change my thinking this year. Her name's, Shannon.
Shannon came in my life at season in life when I was least expecting it. A time when, I was questioning my life, self-worth and if Jesus really could send me people that would love me with no strings attached. My own parents always wanted something from me. I just wanted pure love. I guess the kind of love parents are supposed to show their kids, but I never got. Shannon had/has become my safe place. That place on good days or bad. That person that will show love and tough love (I am still young, I still make unwise choices at times. I’m human!) She calls me out when needed, cheers me on, prays for me, and truly wants the best for me. Shannon took my hand and was able to help me see life differently--in a new light. Because of how close I am to her now, I was able to see what vulnerability looked like, safe vulnerability.
I struggle every day with being vulnerable. It's a hard thing to do, friends, really hard. I'll be real honest here, I am in this tough season of learning to be vulnerable. If you work at it, it'll even bring your past up of why things never worked in the first place. Don't believe that lie, it's a lie from the enemy.
Romans 8:18,"For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us."
People will hurt you, people will leave, people will disappoint you. That's life. I am seeing now in this life season, that shouldn't stop you from being open. You don't have to be open with everyone. Pray on who to pour your heart out to. Still love people. Were called to love Jesus first, and live in community. Living in community means being vulnerable.
James 1:3-4,"For you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing."
Whether you’re in America, Europe, or some other country reading this, know it's okay to be vulnerable. It's not easy. Find someone like a Shannon in your life. Pray, ask for that person. They will come, I prayed for Shannon. Love people, love God and learn to open your heart.
Written By: Vanessa
I’m going to admit first thing that when I found out we were writing about friendships this month, I first wondered how I could get out of it. I honestly thought I had nothing to write. Friends have been at the top of my prayer list for a while now. It’s not that I don’t have friends. I have my husband who is my best friend and I am very close to my parents and an Aunt. My college roommates are close friends, and while they are like sisters to me, we are all terrible at keeping up with each other on a regular basis. I know lots of people and connect with them a lot. But that one girl or group of girls that knows me inside and out at this season in life, I don’t have that. Some of the reasons I’m missing those friendships is I haven’t truly made developing relationships a priority. I put my family first always. When I got married I moved to a new community and a new church and immediately gained two children. I went from single to soccer mom and my schedule got super crazy. Life then got very hard as we navigated some pretty intense teenage issues and I put up a wall. I have realized years later that I didn’t want to let anyone get close because I didn’t want to be vulnerable and therefore friendships never developed. So here I was, not wanting to write about friendships, because my life does not abound with what the world says are friends.
But then last week I was listening to an interview on a Podcast. I can’t remember which one or who the interview was with but I do remember the quote “Jesus is a friend that never leaves you.” Wow! During all of those years for praying for a friend I had one! A friend who is never going to leave me and who is never going to give up on me!
The Lord your God will be the one who keeps on walking with you—he won’t leave you or abandon you-Deut. 31:6b
Jesus is my friend all the time. He is the one I can turn to in the good times and bad. He is the one who loves me unconditionally. He is with me no matter where I turn.
Jesus had many friends. Lazarus was greatly loved by Jesus along with his two sisters. Jesus loved his disciples and called them friends. Jesus had friends that were good upstanding members of society and was friends with some pretty unsavory characters. Jesus also had friends, that he loved, that he knew were going to betray him. Judas was one of Jesus dearly loved disciples. He loved Jesus but he loved money more and agreed to betray Jesus by turning him over to the Chief Priest for a sum of money. Peter was another disciple that loved Jesus but denied knowing him three times in the course of one evening. Jesus continued to love them even though he knew what they were going to do!
When life gets tough and you feel like your friends are few, don’t forget you are never alone! You have a friend whose name is Jesus and HE will be there no matter what!
Written By: Heather