Tag Archive | friendship

Nothing Like Job’s Friends

Job 8

Then Bildad the Shuhite replied:

“How long will you say such things?
    Your words are a blustering wind.
Does God pervert justice?
    Does the Almighty pervert what is right?
When your children sinned against him,
    he gave them over to the penalty of their sin.
But if you will seek God earnestly
    and plead with the Almighty,
if you are pure and upright,
    even now he will rouse himself on your behalf
    and restore you to your prosperous state.
Your beginnings will seem humble,
    so prosperous will your future be

In the above passage Job’s friend Bildad is responding to Job’s suffering in the only way he knows how.  He is seeing through his lense.  He is pulling on the information that he has thus far acquired in his life journey and offering that as a resolution.  The only problem, is he is wrong.

Bildad had never been through anything Job was going through at the time, thus he was not qualified to offer advise or counsel or insight.  Unfortunately he was not wise enough not to know this.  And so he spoke out of his ignorance.  He put the blame on Job.  He made it seem like it was something Job had done to experience all of this loss.  That is the deception in religion.  It puts the burden on the person, instead of giving it back to Christ to carry for us…(Matthew 11:30).

In this difficult season I have been navigating I’m so grateful to have people around me, friends around me, who are nothing like Job’s friends.  They do not speak on areas they are not familiar with.  We have all had our difficulties, but none of us are the same.  I have never been through a divorce or faced a physical life threatening illness or lost a child.  And so it would be inappropriate for me to speak on these things.  And even if I had gone through these things I would have had my own experience with them, so what may have helped me through those hardships may not help another person.  My counselor told me something similar recently: we are all different and no two people respond the same to similar circumstances.

I remember the morning of her funeral, 5 women were in my home, waiting.  They were silent.  They were silent because they were sensitive to my needs.  And really, what could be said?  They sat in silence as we road in the limo.  And I felt very much like none of this was happening.  Like I was watching everything happen around me but I wasn’t really apart of it.

Job’s friends were silent initially.  They were silent for 7 days and then they opened their mouths and spoke about things they knew nothing about.  I’m glad that was not my experience.  How painful is it to endure such difficult circumstances and then on top of that to feel condemned and accused and persecuted from your loved ones?

I have had some experiences where selfishness and judgement have been tossed my way and it has been hurtful.  But even those experiences have been few and far between and never from my core circle.  For that I am grateful.

I also know there have been times I have been the judge.  I have been the one condemning and pointing the finger and saying the wrong thing.  I’m grateful for a repentant heart and an increase in self awareness.  I’m grateful for growth.

Pain is a delicate thing.  And when faced with it hearts are tender and should be handled carefully.

I was told last night from a new friend that I am a safe place for him.  He has been through lots of pain and I am honored to be a safe place for someone who has experienced that much pain.

But I know to be safe has to be learned.  I learned it from the women around me and from Holy Spirit using them.

They are nothing like Job’s friends…

SHALOM

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The Exception

I have a friend who notices patterns.  He’s pretty analytical and I like that about him.  I too notice patterns.  I’ve noticed that I attract certain personality types.  I’ve taken a few personality tests and know that my personality tends to be more “melancholy”. As a result I attract the opposite personality type in my close circle of friends.  That would be “the sanguine”.  Sanguines are upbeat and positive.  They tend to see the glass as half full even when its half empty.  I have noticed that in both friendships and dating relationships in my life the Sanguines are there in full form.

But recently I’ve attracted someone even more melancholy than myself.  That forces me to be “the sanguine one”.  Now its not that I’m never upbeat or happy or positive, its just that I’m used to taking the more serious, analytical, deep thinking role in my close relationships.  So it surprised me that I would become close to someone whose personality did not fit the mold of my close circle.  That’s when I remembered that I had one very close friend who also did not fit that mold.  She too is “melancholy”.

And as I thought about it, I remembered a saying my new friend says often.  As much as he likes patterns he says that there are always exceptions.

At the end of the movie, He’s Just Not That Into You the main character finally gives up on this exciting, romantic, passion filled love and settles for the safe, dependable, responsible relationship.  She was told by another character that she was “the rule” and the rule did not get the kind of love she dreamed of.  But at the end of the movie that same character pursues her.  He lets down his guard and bears his soul.  She looks at him hesitantly, unsure of weather or not she should trust his display of affection.  After all, he was the one who coached her through the whole movie about men and how she couldn’t believe they were really interested in her because of their lack of pursuit.  So she says to him, “I thought that I was the rule.  You said that I was the rule.”  And he reaches for her, leans in and counters her statement.  “I was wrong.  I was wrong, you are not the rule.  You are the exception.  You are my exception.”

There have been a surprising turn of events these last few months in my life.  I’ve allowed myself to be open and being open makes room for new people to come in.  I have followed a set of ideas and ways for most of my spiritual journey and I’m not throwing it all out the window but I see the need for change.  I’ve felt it this past year.

So instead of choosing the rule, I’m now choosing the exception.

My exception.

SHALOM

Time, Music and Loved Ones

Last night I had a blast with some good friends at a 90’s throwback concert.  It was a last minute, spur of the moment sort of thing but it had been on my radar for months.  I have been trying to have a good concert experience for years now and finally I got my wish.  We belted at the top of our lungs and swayed to all the popular songs.  We cheered on the artists and reminisced about “back in the day”.  I really enjoyed that many of the artists did cover songs and tributes to other artists who were not actually performing.  It made me feel like they had the same experience growing up that I did with music and those songs meant the world to them too.

I was even more blessed to get to see one of my besties who decided to make the four hour drive and witness what may be a once in lifetime event.  We were only able to spend a few moments together but seeing her is just a reminder of how blessed in the friendship department I really am.  15 years strong…

She is a teacher and actually ran into a former student at the concert.  You know you are getting up there when the 22 year old sitting next to you is your best friend’s former student.  How does that happen?  And where does the time go?

Time seems to stand still in my waiting but hurry fast when I’m not.  I look back and see the painful moments of surrender but also have to admit the pain does not ever last.  More and more I am aware of how temporary this life is and how fast moments go.  I guess the test is to not believe the lies of the difficult moments.  It also feels like it will never end but it always does.

Last weekend I got to spend time with my god daughter.  We made gingerbread houses and played cards all night.  She sits up front in the car with me now which has never happened and she is almost just as tall as I am.  I kept having flashbacks of when she was three, sitting in the backseat and I was taking her to one event or another.  The preteen years are now here…

That same weekend I went to a friend’s birthday party.  She just turned 50.  I thought about how fast 50 will come for me, if I am afforded those years.  I thought about time again and how it seems so slow but flies by.  I think it is a mystery that God created.

I’m preparing to make a difficult decision soon and go into another period of transition.  I recognize the cycles in my life and though I don’t think it’s wise to project the past into the future, it gets hard not to sometimes.

There are new things happening though for people I love and that is both good and weird.

Life is both good and weird.

I think the mid 30s are teaching me that.

SHALOM

The Gift

It’s been a month since we started hanging. I knew I was attracted but had no idea God could use that attraction. I had no idea you would be a safe haven. A place of restoration. There are so many things I marvel at: the treatment of respect, the understanding of my value, the seeing of my true self.

For so long I knew I longed for love. As women we long for love.  But what I’m learning in this season is that I also long for respect.  I believe we have a deep seated longing to be pursued in such a way that causes a man to rise to the high standard our Father has set. But it’s only high because we are royalty.  And it’s only high to those who are not.

I learned how to play the game. He made his move and I made mine. Check mate. It took everything I had but I sent the text, forfeited the date, knowing he was a fool.


But then you were there. Again. And when you speak I know it’s sincere. I know your words are true. And I think fondly of our budding friendship.

“You are my gift,” you say.  And I don’t tell you, but I feel the same.

SHALOM

When You’ve Come A Long Way

I sat in the Starbucks location 10 minutes from work using my early arrival as needed time to recoup from the day.  I was meeting an old high school friend and would need the short break to gather energy for the meeting.  Not because my time with her would not be enjoyable but simply because that is what introverts do: they gain energy during down time.  When she arrived I was flooded with friendship from her smile to her perky nature.  She made it known that she was outgoing, friendly and extroverted, all of the qualities most of my close friends have.

Over my standard café latte and her sweet treat (which turned out not to be sweet enough) we caught up on life.  She advised it had only been a year since our last convo but I’m pretty sure it was longer.  I need to look up the pictures on Facebook to confirm that though…  She mentioned not having friends past certain seasons and I can identify.  I don’t have too many I keep in contact with from before college.  Most of my close friends are from that time of academic and spiritual endeavors on Miami’s campus.  I shared I think that mostly has to do with me having a shared spiritual experience with those folks.  When you become born again it changes you and sometimes old relationships do not carry over after this change.  She too is a believer, like several others from back in the day.  Our connection is always easy and comfortable probably because of our shared faith.

After about an hour of deep conversation she said, “Wow Nicole look at you compared to your high school self!”  I believe she was inferring I had come a long way.  I was too afraid to get more feedback on that statement though I wanted to ask for her to elaborate.  I can’t even picture my high school self from an outsider’s perspective and how different I am now.  I only know the process I have gone through for that transformation to take place.  I assume she sees a more polished, mature version of myself.  It is truly the work of the Father to polish and polish and polish those rough places around me and cause me to shine.

He is still polishing…

We talked about the ex and I was tickled at how distant that time frame of dating seemed.  I thought back to how deeply my feelings were for that man back then.  I thought I would never get over that breakup.  But last night I sat in front of her, experiencing a greater level of wholeness I have never experienced before.  It took a lot of blood, sweat and tears to get this far.  It took a lot of faith walking and fearful courage.  But some how, some way, the prophecy I received long ago came to pass:

“You have come leaps and bounds” the prophet said.  I knew at the time I had not but that the word was for a future time.  To God His work in us is already finished so His view was that it had already happened.  In my time it would take another 10 years…


Somehow the 10 years came and went.  And then another year.  And another.  Now I am here, removed from heartbreak, still developing, still learning, and still walking by faith.  But now I have something I didn’t have back then.  I have a history with God.  I have a history of Him showing out for me.  Doing the impossible for me.  And creating a masterpiece out of a life that was at one time in shambles.

He is faithful.

Psalm 18:33

“He makes my feet like hinds’ feet [able to stand firmly and tread safely on paths of testing and trouble]; He sets me [securely] upon my high places.”

SHALOM

 

Keep Living

This week was full of both rest and fun.  Rest because I had 5 days off work (3 of those PTO) and fun because many days were spent with really good people.  For Thanksgiving my mom and I went out to eat.  Normally one of us cooks (usually her) but this time she wanted something different.  After dinner we treated ourselves to a movie and then met her friends for bowling.  It was a full day and I was thoroughly stuffed.  Then Friday I had some alone time.  I went shopping on Black Friday at my favorite mall and marveled at the crowds.  Still, it was nice to be around so many yet be “alone”.  What can I say, it is the introvert in me that appreciates such an occurrence…Later on I relaxed with a 90s flick, only to meet up with a good friend for a latte at Starbucks.  I enjoyed a grande and even a chocolate chip muffin.  Then Sunday my friend and I made our way to the Browns’ game.  I will admit I have lived here over 10 years and have never been to a game!  Lucky me the tickets were free, the weather was nice and our seats were phenomenal.  It hardly mattered we didn’t win.  We had fun anyway…


But even in the midst of all these blessings I would be dishonest to say this holiday was not without its own difficulties.  The lack of family was evident for me while watching my mom’s friend’s daughter and her fiancé interact.  I glanced at her ring once or twice and stuffed down the never-ending longings…There were moments I was home alone when I really didn’t want to be.  Instead I wanted people, I wanted companionship, I wanted love.  But as I told my friend last night on the phone, even with all the people who do love me, they will still choose family over friendship.  It is natural.  God does set the lonely in families, but I often wonder, when will He not need to?  When will I have my own?…

The holidays are here and they are festive.  They are a mixture of fun and rest.  They are a mixture of enjoyment and lonelineness.  That is life.  The movie my mom and I saw had a character who was facing a divorce.  She was freaking out and said “What will I do now?”  My mom replied at the large screen in front of us, “Keep living”.  She was right.

One thing I have learned in this season is the importance of resilience and the ability to keep moving forward.  Someone near you dies?  You keep living.  You lose your job?  Keep living.  Depression hits?  Keep living.

It has been a year where I have practiced this concept to “keep living”.  It has been the fastest year of my life.  There were nights I didn’t think I would get through, but I am here.  And you are too.  And that means there is a hope for the future.

Jeremiah 29:11

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

 

And what a lovely future it must be…

SHALOM

 

Ben-Samuel

Wanna know what my favorite part of the day is these days?  It’s coming home.  When I come home often I am greeted with “welcome home!”  And those words ring beautifully in my ears.  Living alone has hardly been a thorn in my side.  I’m an introvert, raised an only child, so alone time is precious to me.  But there is a blessing in having companionship in your home and I have that gift in this season.  My roomie of 1 month serves as that companion.  We walked into this arrangement by blind faith, only knowing of one another through blogging and the few dinners we shared since meeting.  But though we did not know one another very well, we knew His voice…

Not long after her arrival, we had another companion join us.  Ben-Samuel.

Now this is an unusual name for a pet but he is not your typical cat!  This cat LOVES people.  He LOVES to be petted, touched, fed, and included in all household activities.  He makes that very clear when we are home that he is to be apart of the conversation.  One time he even moved a bag off the kitchen chair just so he could sit at the table with my roommate!  It is a given that if we are eating dinner at the table, he will join.  Literally.

Ben (aka Benny, aka Ben-Samuel) has gotten into a ritual of sitting on our laps when we are in the living room working on our computers in the evenings.  He will even sit on the keyboard!  I cannot help but allow him this treat as it clearly means so much to him to have this time with us.  He does this whole ritual with picking out and perfecting his spot. It’s always difficult when I have to move him to get up for tea.

My favorite memory thus far is having him come in my room at 5am this morning to sleep with me.  I had just finished working on my book and was laying back down when I felt the presence of little paws on my comforter.  It was Ben.  He was in heaven as he made his spot and I put my arm over him.  We both drifted off to sleep.

God has been so faithful to show me His love through others in this season.  I see it in the grace and forgiveness my friends offer.  I see it in His financial provision through my landlord and roommate.  And now I see it in Ben.  Ben loves people.  He is trusting and loving and all he wants to do is cuddle.

I love coming home these days.

My house is full.  My heart is too.


SHALOM