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"Many times they afflicted me from my youth, yet they have not prevailed against me" (Ps 129:2).
In 1997 (a time when my life was falling spectacularly apart), I entered into my first mentoring relationship (a.k.a. sponsorship, if you happen to be a twelve-stepper). I was lonely, I was afraid, I was lonely. One of the first principles my mentor taught me about friendship is: You must first become the kind of friend you want to have.
I made a list of attributes I wanted in a friend and sought God for blessed transformation. Over time, I became that friend. Over a decade later, I still had not "reaped what I sowed". I was exhausted from giving to friends who did not give back. Seriously, I had a friend whom I invited over for dinner quite regularly, who once threw a party, asked me to bake the dessert, but never invited me to her party. And I actually baked dessert, took it to her house and said, "Have a great time!" Oh, how I weep for the woman I once was!
At age forty-three, this is what I learned when I examined my "friendships." I had become a good friend to everyone but myself. In my quest for approval, I was willing to be quite callous with my own heart. Ouch! And I'll tell you where it all started: in church. I was rejected in church as a little girl by legalistic authorities and somewhere along the line, I came to believe that when "religious" people accept me as I am, God will. Double ouch!
That's why I never "reaped what I sowed". I wasn't sowing friendship, I was seeking God's approval and acceptance. Something I've had all along! I'm free today-- to be a good friend to myself and others. And now I reap real friendships!
Are you lonely? List the attributes you want in a good friend. Grow in those attributes. Become that friend to yourself, first. From there, true friendships blossoms!
Published on Monday, January 17, 2011 @ 3:21 PM CDT