Investing in a Friendship

We need to ask three crucial questions:

  • When do we get involved?
  • When do we quit?
  • When do we keep investing?

When do we get involved?

I think I answered that question in a previous blog, “Four factors in a friendship”. I listed Common Interests, Common Values, Chemistry and Trust.

When you have all four, the friendship sparkles, glows, energy is received and given back. When one is missing, the friendship is going to slide or perhaps take a back seat. When the crucial element of Trust is missing, the friendship is doomed.

When do we quit?

In that blog, the deal-breaker for me is when someone holds a grudge and refuses to mend broken bridges. The typical scenario is the person who just ghosts you. I know of longsuffering friends who will hang on and make excuses for bad behavior. I have observed that denial doesn’t really solve the problem; rather, it prolongs it. Those friendships end despite their efforts.

Will I keep investing in a friendship that has negative returns? Probably not.

When do we keep investing?

What are the returns that we may look for in a friendship? For me, it is the freedom of being understood; that the other party isn’t going to second-guess everything I say; that if she doesn’t understand or has a negative perception of what I say or do, she won’t take the role of judge, jury and executioner.

She will ask and listen for my perspective. She doesn’t allow the prejudices of third parties to sway her thinking — she will observe for herself. She will allow time to show her the truth. She will also allow for the possibility that some of her negative reactions could be the result of her projecting her inner hurts at me.

When I was working full-time in church and in charge of many of the younger generation, I found that some of them had mother issues. Not all, fortunately. But my ears always perk up when they say, “You’re just like my mother!” Actually, time will tell that I’m not like their mum, not at all!

Are all the disappointments in friendships worth the risk? Yes, yes and yes.

The benefits of having good friends by my side, tried and tested through time, outweigh all the disappointments of having friends who were less than what I had expected. The rewards outweigh the losses. So, I will continue risking.

After all, I am an investor.

Photo by Duy Pham on Unsplash

The Power of Blessing

COMMUNITY MONDAYS

For some weeks now, I’ve had a small group practice meeting one-on-one and affirming the good qualities they see in each other.

In Asia, this is counter-culture. In most Chinese families, children are seldom praised. The only exception is when a child gets no less than an A grade or is admitted into a well-known university — think Ivy League or Oxbridge. The metric for worthiness is performance, usually to do with academics, not quality of character.

So, meeting regularly with a group that desires to find their positive attributes and articulating them to each other is rather unusual. The result has been much self-discovery as each person realises that traits they take for granted are unique, and a blessing to the community.

I can’t reverse thousands of years of Chinese tradition through these exercises, but seeing people light up as their good qualities are blessed, is a reward in itself. And second, having them internalise these truths in their quiet time have resulted in greater self-confidence and so, a greater ability to tackle the challenges that life throws at them.

We’re still a work in progress, but I hope that affirming one another will be a lifestyle. When we are blessed, we are empowered to bless others.

I am really grateful to Rebekah Scott for her course in Unveiling Beauty, that started the ball rolling for me.

If you’re interested, go to https://sapphiretrainingcenter.com/ to check when it’s next being offered.

Photo by Vonecia Carswell on Unsplash

(This is a re-post as I’d accidentally deleted it)

The Journey to Fulfillment

WEDNESDAY’S WORD

“When will the inner healing process be complete?” I was asked the other day.

My answer was, “It won’t be complete as long as we’re alive.” Because the passion of God is for us to be His bride, without wrinkle or spot. Because His passion is for us to “Be holy, because He is holy” (1 Peter 1:16).

And because of that, He permits the devil to test us. His Son got tested, His disciples got tested. And we believers will get tested.

The crucible is for silver, and the furnace is for gold,
    and the Lord tests hearts (Proverbs 17:3)

God’s purpose for the test is that we be refined and be a better version of ourselves; the devil’s purpose is that we flounder and stay stuck in a rut.

A friend asked about the conflicts that she faces in community. I said these were opportunities for her to discern if:

  1. It’s an old wound or wrong belief that is being surfaced for her to deal with;
  2. It is the other party’s issue and nothing to do with her at all or,
  3. More commonly, both are somehow at fault and both need to do better.

As we become a better version of ourselves, we become more wholesome, showing more integrity, shining brighter for the Lord. What we say and what we do, matches. And God’s purpose for our lives is made manifest.

Photo by Kathlyn Tsang

Jesus the Master Reconciler

It is difficult to be reconciled when betrayal occurs. If the betrayer still remains in the community, both parties would distance themselves. The usual reaction of the betrayer is to pretend it “never happened”, minimize it and brush it under the carpet, or just “disappear” without explanation. Or all three.

But that didn’t happen with Simon Peter. We know he had great difficulty forgiving himself when he realized he had betrayed the One he loved. Scripture records he wept bitterly (Luke 22:62). In a time of pressure, he folded. We can imagine the anguish in his heart, the self-accusations and self-condemnations as well as quite likely the attacks of the demonic on his mind. 

But Jesus, the Master Reconciler, knew Peter had a good heart. He invited Peter back to Him and to his destiny in a series of steps. 

Photo by Sebastien Gabriel on Unsplash

We know that after His resurrection, Jesus appeared by the Sea of Tiberias while Peter and two other┬ádisciples were fishing. When John recognized Jesus standing on the shore and exclaimed, “It is the Lord!”, Peter jumped into the water to meet Him,┬áleaving the other two in the boat. One can imagine the joy he felt, and also the shame, the deep sense of unworthiness, and also the deep desire to make things right.

At His request for fish, Peter immediately went to the boat and pulled the net of 153 fish ashore — all by himself. All his actions showed “I am sorry Jesus, I love You, please forgive me, let me make it up to You.” 

But Jesus didn’t address the matter till after He had prepared breakfast and fed His men. The meal was important. We eat only with friends, and He showed Peter that he was included in His community. 

Then came the three famous questions, “Do you love Me?” Each time Peter said, “Yes, I love you,” it nullified each of his previous denials of Jesus. With each “I love You,” Jesus gave Peter a command. First, feed his lambs. Then, take care of His sheep. With each declaration of love, came an increase in responsibility. It showed Peter that Jesus hadn’t lost trust in him.

When Jesus questioned Peter’s love for Him the third time, he was hurt, and he again affirmed his love for His Lord. With that third affirmation came the command to feed His sheep, as well as the prophecy that Peter would die by crucifixion. With the three declarations of love, Jesus re-established Peter’s office as an apostle, re-established his birthright to be one of the writers of scripture and his destiny to be a martyr for Him.

Jesus is the Master Reconciler.

Cultivate your community now —

before it’s too late.

Photo by Chang Duong on Unsplash

When I was a young adult, the message was, “you’ve made it when you’ve gotten married.” Once my friends were married, I didn’t hear much from them. I was disappointed at being summarily abandoned once their goal was reached, but I decided I would make new friends.

After many years, I found I was pretty good at making and keeping friends. It wasn’t intentional, but many of them were more accomplished, more well-travelled, had more resources than I had. They were like me in the sense that they were always working on growing, on being better than before. Some had a better start; others seemed to have had it worse, but being gifted with much intelligence, natural energy and an incredible work ethic, became proficient in their field.

And then recently, I realised how my early losses and my positive response, which was making friends with the younger generation as my own generation dumped me, have buffered me against a reality that those my age and older are facing — a shrinking community and the prospect of loneliness.

Desperate, these people try to cultivate relationships that were abandoned decades ago, and to be honest, it feels odd, weird. Relationships take time to cultivate; they can’t be revived overnight. If you’ve ignored someone for decades and then suddenly decide you want a relationship with them, the normal response would be, “What??” Or worse.

My takeaway is, don’t just discard your friends just because you’ve gotten married and have had children, an exciting career and a higher social status. Friendship, like marriage, is for life. Take time to nurture your friendships so that when you need your friends, they’ll be there — naturally.