trust timing

Lesson 49: The art of friendship

Today I am contemplating the many things that are very wrong with this world. Watching the headlines every day is enough to turn you grey overnight. The world we live in is becoming a more and more sinister planet and good people are becoming increasingly hard to find.

Portrait of business colleagues holding each other and laughing

Are relationships and friendships of such little value that we can change them and discard them as easily as we do with a barely worn out pair of socks. Why are so many casual, fair weather ‘’friends’’ in this world? There when it suits them and AWOL when you need them most.

Is it people raise their children to befriend or is this something the greater majority hope their children will just learn casually at school? I can tell you one thing most people seem to have the 101 on this subject – “How to selfishly love yourself and give only to others if it means a return on your investment”.

I know for one I value friendships – I value my time and have always aimed to teach my children to value the time others give them – to teach them that friendship, the true kind, is a slow paced journey – of learning to navigate your way into a strong reliable and cherished friendship. What breaks my heart is how quickly friendships turn out to be people that are fairly casual about them and are quick to jump ship when a more interesting friend comes their way.

I see countless beautiful young people left isolated by others wondering “what now”, and “here we go again”. It is a dangerous place to be as they quickly become fairly jaded on the art and beauty of making true lasting friendships.

So what is a true friend?

How can we become true friends?

What should we be teaching our children and doing ourselves?

How do we decide on who fits the bill of this seemingly rare gift?

True friendship…

  • Is Unselfish – it’s not about what you get out of the friendship but about what you put in. Imagine if both friends put the same energy and passion into a relationship, instead of just waiting to see what they could receive, how beautiful would that picture look?

 

  • Is Respectful – respectful of the person’s space, opinions (even if they are different from your own), approach to life and who they are. Respect is a beautiful thing when given before it is earned and I know many believe it is the other way around – but respect is a precursor for our next point of friendship.

 

  • Is trustworthy – which relationship do you know that works well without this core ingredient? Friends need to be able to confide in each other and know what they have said remains there in the preciousness of that space; they need to be safe in knowing that their friendship will not be given up at the turn of a new trend or the introduction of a new person, which leads me to the next point.

 

  • Values others – when we place value on people we treat them with care and we honour them as people. Value encompasses all of the above then, because as we value those around us we care more about their needs than our own, we respect them as fellow human beings and by being trustworthy of them we place value and priority over them as people. What more could we give as friends than value – this in a world where relationship seem to have become a disposable commodity. When people feel they have value they walk differently, they live differently and they love differently. It is all part of an intricate cycle of design.

So how do we become these people?

It’s simple – you choose it.

If you are not by nature this kind of person it will take sacrifice – of yourself. Just consider a world where everyone was more concerned about the person next to them than themselves…it certainly would look a whole lot better than the pciture I am currently looking at.

And yes, let’s not be entirely over romantic about this – there are many times when you have to do things for yourself and walk away from over demanding people – but that’s a whole new conversation about narcissists and so forth – here we are just talking about everyday – reasonably – normal people.

How do people fit the bill? When do we decide they can step into our sacred space?

This is the most challenging part.

Relationships of any sort are a risk.

We never know how it will turn out – for me I have had some doozies – there is no easy way to assess a person. You have to go in and take the chance – be willing to take a bruising along the way, no one is perfect after all, and give them the chance to be that friend.

This is often why we are so let down – because I would say 8 out of 10 of these people are going to let you down badly. 6 out of 10 may let you down somewhat or they could turn out to be great casual, socially fun friends but don’t expect depth and support from them. It seems to be a matter of statistics here. The sad but blatant truth of it.

And after all is said and done and if, just if you happen to be in the right place at the right time, with the right outlook on life, in just the right moment, you may find one or possibly two of those rare human beings who will be the ones you can lean on when life requires it, share coffee, laughter and life in between.

Good friendships are the rarest treasure of all – when you find them value them deeply, guard them fiercely and treasure them dearly.

I am deeply blessed to count a very, very few in my life but I know they will be there for the rest of it.

 

au revoir mon ami

Michelle

Lesson 34: Peddle Forest, peddle!

Cape Town sunset - copyright Michelle Moller, Lessons in French

I have been reflecting on what to write about next and let’s not even talk about actually getting the time to sit down and write…It has been busy but God’s incredible grace is still so evident in every day. The sun never ceases to rise in the morning and amazingly enough, despite global warming it’s been a breeze breathing the cool fresh O2 .

I have been thinking quite a bit about the red bicycle today…and remembering a couple of falls I took off that bike and others since. There was nothing worse as a kid, than coming off the bike at full speed, meeting the tar with a surprised welcome and scraping knees and elbows with absolute abandon and then having to cycle the rest of the way home with a stiffness that completely sets into the bones, bruised body and ego – I am not sure which was worse.

climbing the mountainThe dream journey is very much like this. It will never stop testing you both when the fairy wheels come off and when you think you are free to ride with abandon. There will always be the possibility of a fall – in fact you could mostly guarantee it. Not that I am being a pessimist here but 9 times out of 10 there is going to be a fall just as in living the dream, there are going to be a few challenges that you will have to face.

Some may rock up unexpectedly, like the luminous zit that pops out on your nose the morning of a job interview. While others may be a little more anticipated but the fall never hurts less even when  you know it could happen.

Life is like that, we don’t have to expect negative and difficult situations but we know God talks about trials happening in our lives. Without these trials we would have no reason to grow, no reason to expand our thinking. It makes me think of the verse in James 1 verse 2 – 4:

“Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. 4 Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”

Habbukuk 2:3This verse talks about us facing adversity and seeing it as a good thing, because it is building our faith, our ability to persevere and stand strong to grow us into complete, mature competent people. Our growth will always results in more faith. This faith is being grown for a time that God has already foreseen. You will only know it when the time comes, why you needed to experience the trials you wished you could have done without.

Riding this red bicycle will take faith. Faith can carry us forward – but when we face steeper inclines and  more arduous terrain we are going to have to extend ourselves. The terrain we face ahead is going to challenge us – but you decide on the journey taken and the degree of faith exercised. Remember whatever you sow here is what you will enjoy later.

The question is…Do you want to grow?

Let’s talk about the choices you have on this bicycle when facing the tough terrain.

choiceYou could choose an easier path. Maybe you decide to trace the previously used tracks and keep to the paved road – you may not see the need for this tough path and so you choose the road well-traveled instead. If your answer is yes then welcome the sweat on your brow, a couple of scrapes and stiff muscles – these are all a good sign of growth in progress.

bike leaning on treeYou may decide, you are up for this adventure but not on the seat of the bike and so you get off and push the bike. Maybe you even leave it behind and continue ahead on foot without it. You choose the foot path as a more comfortable alternative and without the dream to challenge you, you find an easier route that leads to a quiet stream and you don’t see the need to push on for something you have stopped pushing for. You forget the passion that drove the dream and settle for the comforts of what seems to be a reasonable achievement.

On the other hand, you could choose the road less traveled by ‘red bike’ and novice dreamer or even the more experienced dreamer. This road requires all the stamina, ardour and innovation you can muster to keep going. It’s tough and almost alive in its demands. At times it feels as though the road physically throws you off the bike, willing you to quit and hang up your cycling shorts. You suffer from saddle sores, creaking knees and let’s not even mention the flat tyres you are constantly changing. It feels as though everything forms a force field against you and this red bike. There are days when you are so close to throwing it down, days when regret feels stronger than your fervour and your weariness becomes your closest friend.

Now, these are the trials James talks about. These are the times when God urges us to keep pushing on. It is exactly when we want to throw down the dream, when we are full of doubt and exhaustion, when Father God wills us on. It is here where we earn victory, for when we can ignore the pain, the crushing weaknesses, the deep-rooted guilt or doubt that we overcome.

When we overcome we begin to realise how great God’s grace is – because yes, reality says no,  but God’s incredible grace says, 

 

“You can do all things through Christ, who strengthens you.” Philippians 4 verse 13.

Perseverance becomes the pedals of this bike and it spurs us on to pedal, to set our sights on that which God has called us to. It strengthens our resolve to a point where we know that we know that we know, that the victory is ours. (I can actually hear the Vangelis music from Chariots of fire in the beach scene, playing right now as I write this.)

But all jokes aside – you might fall. You might feel very broken to the point where it feels as though there is no hope to bring repair to your situation. I want to say that all things are possible, and I don’t say this arrogantly or with disregard to your current situation, but all things are possible with our God. You can find your way if you just choose to get up – if you just choose to let that be your first step.

Step 2 can be getting your butt back on that saddle. Step 3 – putting your feet back on the pedals of perseverance and then with no reservations start pedaling Forest, pedal! Ain’t nothing gonna stand in your way except your own stinking thinking (as Joyce Meyers would say).

victoryDare to dream, dare to cycle that dream up the hills and down the valleys – you will get there. Be encouraged that if it’s taking longer than anticipated, it may just mean that God needs to train you a little here and there, refine you for moments you have not yet considered and reveal to you that which you have not been able to see. Trust His time and His process – because often that is what it is more about…your willingness to trust Him – more than the actual achievement of the dream.

Getting to the top of the hill is going to be amazing but your testimony is going to be about the journey it took to get there, more than the actual arrival at the destination. So make the journey moments count. Learn as much as you can from each minute on the trail. Keep thanking God or all the circumstances even the tough ones.

The dream is still there – now get on that red bike and go and get it!

 

Just keep pedaling,

Michelle