Monday, January 16, 2012

Loving My Friends

As someone who has lived in 5 different states in my life, I have had my share of friendships over the years.  Historically, I have always tended to be a person who had one really close friend with several other special friends.  When the move comes, it is hard to leave those friendships.  I have moved enough times to know that some relationships will change with time and distance and some will stay the same. 

As I look at Facebook pictures and see posts from friends, I sometimes can feel the green eyed monster whisper in my ear, "Do you see you have been replaced?  They are forgetting about you, you know."  I will admit that jealousy has crept up in my heart.  It has reared it's ugly head and made me feel not important. I also realize that in feeling jealous that I am not loving the way God has called me to love.

Corinthians 13:4-8 says, "Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up, does not behave rudely, does not seek it's own, is not provoked, thinks no evil, does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in all things; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.  Love never fails."  If I am truly loving the way that God calls me to love, I will not be jealous.  I will be excited for my wonderful friends when they get to do fun things with other people.  Does God want us to save ourselves only for a few chosen people or does God want us to reach out and love as many people as possible in this lifetime?


In my paternal grandmother's house, there hung a prayer that my grandmother had cross-stitched by hand.  It now hangs in my house.  The prayer I found out later is called the Prayer of Saint Francis, and I was recently told by someone that there is a song too.  This is what it says.
Lord, make me an instrument of your peace...
where there is hatred, let me sow Love...
where there is injury, Pardon...
where there is doubt, Faith...
where there is despair, Hope...
where there is darkness, Light...
and where there is sadness, Joy...
Grant that I might not so much seek
to be consoled as to console...
to be understood as to understand...
to be loved as to love...
For it is in giving that we receive
It is pardoning that we are pardoned
And it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.

It is such a great reminder that if I am truly loving my friends, I will want the best for them.  I will want them to have wonderful friendship just like I want wonderful friendships for myself.  God is teaching me that in order to be a good friend the focus needs to come off of me and what I am getting or not getting and instead needs to be on the other person.  God calls me not so much to be loved as I am to love.

It reminds me of a story I read once in a book.  I don't remember the name of the book, but I have never forgotten the illustration.  It was set up to represent how you could explain to your children how you as a parent can still have plenty of love left for them when you have another baby.  The story goes something like this: 
"When Mommy was born, God gave me all of His love."  You light a candle.  "The candle is Mommy and the flame represents all of Mommy's love.  Then Mommy met Daddy, and she gave him all of her love."  You light a second candle with the light from the first (Mommy) candle.  "Do you see how Mommy gave Daddy all of her love, but mommy still has all of her love left to give?  Then Mommy had her first baby, and Mommy gave that baby all of her love."  You light a third candle with the light from the first candle.  "Now, Daddy has all of my love, baby has all of my love and Mommy still has all of her love left to give."  You repeat this for as many children as you have to represent that all of the children get all of Mommy's love.  This is a good visual to do with children who are having a hard time with a new baby.

This story might be geared toward children, but I think it is a great illustration.  It doesn't matter how deeply I love my friends and my family, there is always room to give someone else all of my love.  I believe that is how God wants it too.  For us to give everyone we can all of our love with no preconceived notions of what we are going to get back in return.  I say that if we receive nothing, then at least we have shown love.  It can be a challenge sometimes, but it is what we are called to do.

"My little children, let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth."  1 John 3:18

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