Cindy R. and Lynn O.

By AbbyA

Why is it so hard for most of us?  Even walking into a small crowd makes you feel self-conscious.  You are thinking about who you are going to talk to or if anyone will be friendly towards you.  Even when you are invited.  Even if you are all there for a common reason.  Group gatherings make me feel a little nervous.

Just this week, my sweetie girlfriend Susie D. invited me to a back to school coffee fellowship.  I was bound to know a few of the ladies.  My friend Susie D. could not have been kinder introducing me to the few who I didn’t know . . . but no one I actually knew was on the left or right of me.  That feeling . . . time to strike up conversation . . . be charming . . . smile big.  Make a friend?  Group gatherings make me feel a little nervous.

My friend Cindy R. is an extremely Godly, perfect example of being a friend.  I joined a group where I didn’t know anyone.  She grabbed me on the very first day.  Even though she already had a lot of friends in this group, she decided to get to know me.  That certainly changed everything about being part of this group.  She gave me an invisible sticker right over my heart that spells BELONG.

Just because I love the leaders and girls in this group so much, I have to say more.  At the door leading to this group, there is some sort of symbolic garbage can.  Girls throw out their pride, tendency to compete, compare or judge and put on plain old friendliness.  The girls in this group make you feel so okay, so BELONG, that on my worst day, my very worst day, God reached out to me through them.

It was one of those days where all the prayer and faith in the world can’t stop the tremor shaking your core and stealing your very well-being.  I sat in my car weeping to my mother with no hope.  I was fighting depression, my broken marriage and experiencing the kind of pressure that can pop your brain.  I walked into where my group was gathering, told a friend that I needed a friend and fell apart into 1000 pieces in her arms.  Thank you, Lynn O.

Really girls, I don’t know why it means so much to BELONG.  I don’t know why fellowship sometimes feels so scary.  But I do know that fellowship is supposed to be about joy in your sisterhood.  Even if she’s not your best friend, you can stamp her with BELONG.  You can give her the freedom to come to you when she’s falling apart.  You can be Christ to her and hold her 1000 pieces together.

As is our human custom, we get things discombobulated in our imperfection.  We confuse fellowship with the requirements for joining a sorority or becoming a member of the Ocean Reef Club.  Then we act like the elite ladies in the dining room of the Titanic and give the cold shoulder to down to earth Molly Brown.  I think each of us knows what it feels like to be nervous in a group.  I think each of us knows what it feels like to want to make a friend.  To want a BELONG stamp.  Think about that.  You can do that for someone.  Forget what you know about fellowship and be a friend.

Do You Have a Friend?

Best Friend Moms and Best Friend Daughters
Best Friend Moms and Best Friend Daughters

By AbbyA

Do you have a friend? One that checks up on you because she has a hunch you’re not yourself today? How about a friend that thinks of you when she is soul-searching? Maybe you have a friend that treats your family to a weekend at the beach when you don’t have a dime for a summer vacation. What about the old friend who sees your kids for the first time and accounts their good looks to you? What about the friend who knows whether there is anything hiding behind your smile? What about the friend who doesn’t call much but always remembers your birthday?

Friends.  Two are better than one.  Because they have a good reward for their labor.  For if they fall, one will lift up his companion.  But woe to him who is alone when he falls.  For he has no one to help him up.  Ecclesiastes 4:9.  As younger women, it is more of the thrill that keeps us close.  We take on the night together with red wine in hand.  We throw up our grad caps together.  We shop for bridesmaid dresses, lipstick and make wedding plans over lunch.  We laugh over pregnant bellies and chipper about when we conceived.

Friends.  Something happens just about the time real life starts taking its course.  There are so many events that make life real.  Most of us are lucky enough to avoid them until several years into the twenties.  Things like infertility happen.  Things like adultery and death.  Things like loneliness or depression.  Things like sickness or searching.  Things like . . .

At these times, when we go through these things, there is a face staring back at you while you . . . Tell your story.  Shed your tears.  You are leaning on a friend.  She danced with you at eighteen when you were both covered in fairy glitter.  But now she is leaving her husband.  You are leaning on a friend.  You think you lost touch, but she is the first one to send you flowers when your dad passes away.  You are leaning on a friend.  You thought her marriage was impeccable, but she is humble enough to tell you about how she learned of her husband’s infidelity.  You are leaning on a friend.

Friends stick closer than a brother.  Proverbs 18:24.  My kids tell on each other – – sometimes for everything.  When my boy whispers something under his breath, my daughter parrot squawks it out for all to hear.  Friends seal it shut.  My best friend has taken my worst, most regrettable mistakes and shoved them under the thick carpet of her vowed secrecy.  When my brother was stabbed, my old high school friend had her husband come home from work to take care of my baby boy so I could go to the hospital.  Even if we fight like girls, grab by the pony tail, ring it like a church bell . . . we grab those same shoulders, smack a kiss on a teary cheek and promise to stay for the long, marathon run of this sometimes shocking, scary, but never-alone life.  Yes, friends stick closer than a brother.

The sweetness of a man’s friend gives delight by hearty counsel.  Proverbs 27:9.  Who are your friends?  Are they reliable? Tried and True?  Do they hold your butt accountable when you seem to have lost your way?  Do they mirror the wisdom offered to you by God’s word?  Do they sharpen you with equal amounts of conviction and grace?

A friend loves at all times. Proverbs 17a.  Are you safe with your friend like you are safe in the presence of your Father?  Where do you go to find this kind of friend?  Friends.  This is where FemmeFuel is going to journey with you during the month of August.  Cultivating Friendships.  How to be a Friend.  How to have a Friend.  What does God’s Word say about Friends?  Ever been burned by a Friend?  Do you have any friends?  Do you need a Friend?

Life would be rather dry without Friends. Our gardens might be tidy, but certainly, nothing would be in bloom.  Imagine having a dried out rose in your keepsake drawer, but having no sweet memory attached to it. Imagine cleaning up after a dinner party without recalling the good laughs from earlier. Imagine truth without the buffer of love. Or repentance without grace.  Friends mean this much.  They are like the warm cover over you while you rest.  It is no wonder that the greatest commandment is to love one another and that the greatest love is to lay down your life for your friend. John 15:12-13. It is a great honor to have and to be a Friend.