Last night I was having a deep discussion with God... in the shower. The shower is my place that I have the most intimate discussions with God. It is in these times that I can be most open because I'm in my most vulnerable state. Nobody can see me, and nobody can hear me. I can cry, down on my knees, and nobody but God can know about it, because honestly, nobody but God can take care of it. He is where my strength comes from.
This time, we were discussing "Friendship", a topic that reaches down right into the core of my being. I was at a loss and I needed to cry out to God for help, wanting to just understand better. Like He always does, God spoke to me, and gave me a picture that I believe was really powerful. The answer was this, "Do you pencil people into your life or do you write them in there permanently?"
Imagine your life to be a piece of paper, when you make a friend do you write that new friend down with a pencil? When you are writing with a pencil, it can easily be erased. You can change your mind. There is not much of a commitment with a pencil. You can just focus on yourself and what you want. You don't have to worry about what the other person wants or needs, because it's all about you. If you don't like something, you just erase. Sometimes that erasing might leave a little smudge, a little hard feelings, but that's okay, you can easily write over the top of it with someone new. But the problem with a pencil is the more and more that you erase, the paper eventually tears, and you're left with nothing.
Now imagine that same piece of paper, what if you were to write your friend down with a permanent marker? Permanent marker lasts a long time, and it doesn't fade away. This type of writing is much more difficult, but I believe it's what God has called us to do. When we have someone in our life, they need to be there for good. There is no changing your mind, or forgetting about them because their name is always there. There is a lot more responsibility when you write it in there permanently. It takes commitment, and it takes doing something even when you don't feel like it. It takes stability, and knowing how to keep your word. You might be a little inconvenienced at times, but it would be necessary. There are times when it can get a little messy too. When someone hurts your feelings, or you hurt theirs, you have to fix it. You can't just erase away the problems, you have to deal with it. It's not always easy, but imagine the rewards you will get from having a permanent friend. You won't have to worry about your paper ripping, it will always be there.
I've been on both sides of the paper, being a penciled in friend, or penciling in a friend of mine. Both ways are painful, and can hurt both of the friends that are involved. I know that God has been calling me to make sure my friends are written into my life with a permanent marker. I need to work at it, and keep on trying even when I don't feel like we're both writing with the same thing. You cannot change the way your friends are, but you can change the way you think about them. I would challenge you right now to take a look at the way you treat your friends, and see how you've been writing them into your life. Are you using a pencil most of the time, or are you taking the extra time and effort that it takes to write with that permanent marker? Sometimes you may get a little extra ink on your hands, but you will have a beautiful, lasting piece of artwork in the end. Take some time today and reflect on what you're doing. If you need to make some changes in your writing style, do it. Tell your friends just how much they mean to you, and make sure you can back up what you're saying. God has called us to love others, let's make sure we're doing it to the best of our ability.
"This is my commandment: Love each other in the same way I have loved you. There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends." John 15:12-13 (NLT)