The Burden of Friendship?

I am a social person. More often than not, I want to be around friends. I want to go for coffee or lunch or a walk and chat with people. I want to hear about their lives and tell them about mine or just talk about the weather (a favorite topic in Ireland). If I can’t be with people, I like chatting on Facebook or via text message or on the phone.

Some of my closest friends, I contact without a second thought. I know if they can’t chat when they receive the message, they’ll leave it until they have time to respond. I have no doubt that if they don’t have time to get together in the next few weeks, they’ll let me know and not feel pressured to fit me into their busy schedule. I know we’ll hang out when life gets less crazy.  

I have recently begun to realize (with the help of a good friend), though, that with many of my friends, I second guess myself when initiating communication. I assume people are busy and I will be interrupting them if I send a message on Facebook – maybe even more so if I send a text message. I’m afraid if I invite them to coffee or lunch, they’ll feel pressured to squeeze me into an already packed schedule and it will be an imposition for them.

In short, I find it easy to assume that I will be a burden to others simply by initiating a conversation. I am realizing that this is a subtle and effective tool of the Enemy to isolate me and others.

Recently, I timidly mentioned to a friend at church that when her life slows down a bit, we should try to go for ice cream or something. Her response surprised me. She said, “You call or text me. I actually have a lot of time free right now, and just hadn’t called because I thought you were busy.” Each of us was waiting for the other to get in touch because we feared interrupting the busyness of her life.

How many times have I sat at home feeling alone and unloved simply because I was afraid I would be a burden? Why do I assume I am an inconvenience? Why do I believe those lies so easily and so often? Am I the only one who falls for this?

I’m learning to initiate communication and invitations. I’m beginning to trust that if people don’t have time to hang out, they will simply be honest and tell me. I am determined that I will no longer allow myself to stay quiet for fear that I will be a burden. When someone comes to mind, it may be that God knows they need a friend to listen just then. If I stay quiet for fear of burdening someone, I may be keeping both of us from the blessing of friendship in a time when it’s most needed.

No more.

From now on, I want to reach out instead of waiting for others to reach out to me. Completely one-sided relationships are no fun, and they are not healthy. However, sometimes we have to reach out beyond our comfort zone and make the first effort.

Is there anyone you need to contact today?

God Loves…

I was having a conversation with some friends on Sunday afternoon, and one of them made a comment that caught me off guard. The comment? God loves us, His children, but He doesn’t love everyone. By this statement, he meant not everyone will spend eternity in heaven; some people will spend eternity in darkness, separated from God.

While I know it’s true many people will not be in heaven, I am bothered by the conclusion he made that God doesn’t love the people who are not “His children.” There is so much going on around the world right now, and it would be easy to think God doesn’t love this person or that group of people. But God IS love. He cannot choose not to love people – even when they choose not to reciprocate His love – because it would mean denying His own character.

God loves each person on this planet the same amount. The only difference is whether His love brings Him joy or pain. He is not willing that ANY should perish, and I believe He weeps over every life lost without being surrendered to Him.

The part my friend must find difficult to reconcile is how God could love someone and still condemn them to eternity in darkness. The simple answer is: He doesn’t. It is because of His love for people that He gives us free will to choose Him or not. If a person wants nothing to do with God while on earth, how would it be loving to force His presence on them for eternity?

Each of us chooses our eternal destination by deciding whether we want a relationship with God or not. In His love, He gives us that choice. When the choice is made to accept His love and love Him in return, there is a party in heaven. When the choice is made to reject God’s love, He weeps for the one who rejects Him. He loves them still, and it breaks His heart that He cannot be with them forever.

Nearly every time I open Facebook or see a news story, it seems hate fills so much of our world. Even among people who follow Jesus, it appears so often that lines are drawn and sides are taken. Races, jobs, political parties, religions, and on and on it goes. So many barriers to unity are being built with words and ideas that are harder to break through than any brick.

God doesn’t take sides. Despite what my friend says, God does love everyone. I want to be more like Him. I don’t know exactly what that looks like in the midst of the messes surrounding us, but I want to learn. I want to seek Him for solutions and receive His grace to love as He loves. I want to see the best in others and forgive when the worst becomes evident. I want to bear, believe, hope and endure all things.  

Who’s with me?

The Time Is Now

In previous posts I’ve mentioned I’m working on a book. I’ve been working on this book for nearly seven years, and on many occasions, I’ve wondered if I would ever complete it.

Last week, a good friend bought me a gift: a mug declaring in bold letters “THE TIME IS NOW.”

I doubt the publishing process is what she had in mind with the gift, but the message certainly fits. I signed a contract a month ago with a publisher. For a while, not much was required from me to move the project forward, and it was easy to forget all that’s happening. Today, I am completing my review of the first round of revisions from the publisher, and I’ve been in contact with him about cover designs and finalizing a title. Suddenly, the reality is sinking in: soon, I will be a published author!

After years of doubting whether I would finish the book (or have the courage to publish it), the time is now. I am excited. I am scared. I wonder who will read it and whether they will like it. I imagine criticisms I will receive, and sometimes, I think of positive comments I might receive. (Why is it always so easy to imagine the worst and forget to dream of the best outcomes?) If I allowed the onslaught of thoughts and feelings to overwhelm me, I’d never take the next step of the process; I wouldn’t have started the process in the first place!

The time is now to take a step. The book is one area of my life where the time has arrived. I may have to take steps in other areas in the near future. Sometimes, these steps feel like leaps off a ledge more than a small stride forward. Fear is a close companion in these times of uncertainty. “What if…?” can become a debilitating question if allowed. Thankfully, the One directing the steps can be trusted!

Could it be time for you to take a step? I would wager most of us have some place in our lives where God is waiting for us to move, but He won’t force us to take a step.  We get to choose whether and when we move forward. We don’t want to move ahead of God, so it’s essential to seek His wisdom and timing. However, if fear is what’s keeping us in the same place, waiting for it to pass will keep us stuck forever. Sometimes, we just have to take a deep breath and step into the unknown with God, believing He is with us no matter what the outcome!

For some of us, I’m sure:

MUG