The fog cast an erie lure of anxiety over a familiar place one February day as I swam down the pier through a cloud of fog, searching wide-eyed for the lighthouse I knew was there. I checked my footprints to make sure I was still on the pavement, not glazed over River, and gazed upwards and around for any shred of light peaking through. I trekked out to the lighthouse, still assuredly out there beyond the mist. To the right of mine, a wispy top-layer of snow revealed one single set of down and back footprints. All alone … I took full liberty of the backstage curtain of fog and released my dance moves to the new album I couldn’t stop listening to.
My quest to “be me” occasionally feels akin to walking down the pier in thick fog. I lose sight of what I know is there, and what I know isn’t there, I want to see. God always has a way of breaking through the thickness with a shard of light. Many times, that glint of hope comes in the form of a friend.
There has been a book about friendship spinning around in my head for many years. Perhaps it circulates because I have never quite found an author that has addressed my trademark quest to “be friends with everyone.” I believe when God wants you to write about something, He wants to show you something. Research and reading unravel answers, but sometimes God uses people to pull it all together. As for me and the topic of friendship, God brightened my perspective through Dawn Camp’s book called “The Gift of Friendship.”
From the very first line of the intro, I knew God set out to teach me through the pages of this book. Any doubt of that was squashed as the words “cross-country parent” ran off the next set of pages. I had been a high-school XC runner, a collegiate XC runner, and a XC coach. “XC parent” was the only title I hadn’t held in the sport. “Surely,” I remember thinking as I read Dawn’s words, “I can learn from her perspective.”
By page 86 and “when I yell at my kids,” I felt I’d made a friend already. It’s always comforting to know that other Christians lose their cool. Without giving away too much, here’s a peak into what I gleaned about friendship from this book.
Making a new friend, or approaching a new season with an established one, takes a slow walk in humility. John 15:9 instructs us to “remain in His love,” and snap judgements and circles of gossip definitely lie outside of it. Walk in prayerful consideration to stop and think before saying or doing anything that could hurt another soul, especially one that is akin to your friendship; but without disregard for a sweet one you may be squashing before it’s given the opportunity to sprout buds and grow.
“Mom,” she said with great authority, “I’ve decided something about friends. They all have good stuff and bad stuff. Things you like and things that really annoy you. So, you just have to decide if you can handle their package deal.” Lysa TerKeurst, “The Gift of Friendship.”
That foggy pier walk rekindled a revelation I’d had years back as a young runner. Comparing the trace of my tracks in the snow, one set revealed a wisp on the tail of my heal where I had drug my feet. The other set, after I noticed and corrected the problem, was nice and clean. Dragging feet cause runners overuse injuries from this mark of improper form. In my friendships, I’m challenged to peer into the past before I bite back.
“There is power in friendship. If it didn’t matter, threatening to end it wouldn’t be our knee-jerk reaction.” Anna Rendell, “The Gift of Friendship.”
Don’t fear forgiveness …the asking or the receiving of it. You may open the door of relief for someone who needs to unload the burden of imperfections that they carry. We all carry them. “We all fall short.” (Romans 3:23) So, have mercy.
“When someone smacks you, the instant and unavoidable response is to turn away from them. The’ve forced you to do so. But what you do after that moment changes everything.” Holly Gerth, “The Gift of Friendship”
I picked up a cross necklace a few years back when I needed a constant visual reminder that Jesus was with me no matter how tight the drama in my life was wound. The first time I put it on, I noticed there was inscription on the back. “Be the change.” As a new coach implementing lots of changes, I took it as a sign that I was running in pace with God’s plan. Really, it just meant to be me through the change. A me that was changing…the growing kind of change.
Kindness can mean everything to someone living in a moment in which everything is crumbling. When my kids come to me annoyed with a classmate, the sting of my own experience in nonacceptance flares back to the surface.
“There’s always something good you can find about a person,” I teach them, “Find it, and focus on that.”
Focus on the light beyond the fog.
“How about we start taking time to get to know the hearts belonging to all those new faces? What if we extend grace? Everyone has bad days and no one is immune to letting emotions slip in hasty replies.” Melanie Porter, “The Gift of Friendship”
Friends defy definition. Church friends, Bible study friends, high school and college friends, teammates, family, bloggers, work peers, neighbors and far away friends, Facebook friends, and authors who write words that resonate so much with our hearts that they feel like friends…
“Treasure friendship in whatever form it takes.” Dawn Camp, “The Gift of Friendship“
I believe friends populate our lives because we were never created to walk out life’s lesson alone. Jesus is the perfect definition of friendship. And because of Him we can go to our Great God in times of need (Hebrews 4:16). But we weren’t meant to be alone. Reach out to friends He’s placed in your life to allow their light alongside yours to pierce through the fog.
“We need someone to look us in the eye and say, “You’re my favorite.” Dawn Camp, “The Gift of Friendship”.
This is but a mere fraction of the inspiration I extracted from this book. Almost every page is littered with underlined text and friends names in margin notes. That’s how this book hit my heart. By faithfully seeing this book to fruition, Dawn Camp has bravely encouraged me to continue extracting the book on friendship that’s been spinning around in my head all of these years. Perhaps, I was just afraid to tell my story…worried that no one would be able to relate. Through the uniqueness of every contributing author, and the story they penned for “The Gift of Friendship”, God showed me that there is room for my story…and for the work He plans to do with the eyes that underline it’s text and write in it’s margins.
Look back to see Jesus grab your hand or hug you tight through a friend. Be inspired and encouraged that in sharing your story you become a vessel for that hand and that hug to someone else. Share in the comments below or on my Facebook page about how God has reached out to you through a friendship, and you’ll be entered to win a copy of The Gift of Friendship that Baker Publishing Group sent me to give away on my blog! I’ll pick a winner from the comments on Wednesday, February 24th, 2016. (Must be a US resident over 18 to enter.)
Congratulations, Carolina, from Cisnernos Cafe! Thank you for sharing with us how your core two friends have extended the love of Jesus in your life. You are the winner of a copy of The Gift of Friendship! Enjoy, my friend!