Friendship is a powerful gift of life. Friendships are harder to sustain in our busy lives today. Yet, loneliness and isolation account for an even increasing societal and personal issue called depression. We are made to socialize and be with other people but close, long-lasting friendships separate us from the animal kingdom. We need friends for health, success and happiness. Have you considered the status of your friendships lately?
Maybe the time is here to take a closer look at the value of your friendships. It seems natural that with the New Year would come new goals and dreams. As I grow older however, I realize that my goals do not change from year to year but my ability to achieve the goals change. Like this year, I again desire to eat better and become more fit. However, this year I am perfectly content to watch my daughter workout with her Wii Fit game and do not have any desire to participate in the activity. And because my family life is busier and my work is never ending, I have no extra margin to even make the time and try to become more fit.
Regardless of the verbal support of my family, they would not be the ones keeping me accountable on a daily basis. We wake up together, try to eat meals together and say good night to each other but all of us are going in different directions. Love is the foundation of our home life but personal achievement is an individual responsibility. In other words, I would be on my own in this endeavor.
For me, personally, my faith has not been the motivation to get me to change. My faith instead provides the inspiration to accept the need for change. I want to feel better about myself so I start thinking of ways to accomplish that goal. I have found that the peer pressure (or the friends) in my life are actually the motivating factor to get me to change. Peers are like deadlines dates. They both have the ability to motivate you to complete necessary tasks. Think of reunions or house parties or even going out, we all make a special effort to look extra good.
It is the same thing for me at work. It has not always been the inspiration of spiritual revelations that have kept me going. I really believe that it has been the physical tangible person, having a co-partner who has challenged me as well as encouraged me to continue. We could become resentful of the peer pressure in our lives or we can be thankful for the power of friendship to change our lives.
Gossip, negativity, criticism, lack of support and judgments can cause anyone to quit because change can be too hard. Personally, I do not blame anyone for quitting. The world is filled with people who lack support, finances, encouragement and personal abilities to break out of habitually bad patterns. But I would recommend that they find a friend or an accountability partner to talk things out and get perspective before making any big decisions.
Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 says, "Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their labor. For if they fall, one will lift up his companion. But woe to him who is alone when he falls, for he has no one to help him up." Even this verse is showing the power of friendship.
Sometimes, it is in the honest sharing of your heart that someone else can give you the wisdom to endure. Sometimes, it is the person who asks you, "How's it going?" and takes an interest to ask, that keeps you speaking and planning and dreaming and going. That kind of support might not ever come from your family but it might come from a friend. Family members have vested interests in you for themselves…as a spouse or parent or provider or scheduler. Bill Bright, founder of Campus Crusade for Christ, said it best when stating that God has a wonderful plan for your life and everyone in your life will tell you what it is. But a friend's expectations are different.
Just because we know we need to change does not mean that it will be easy. Just because others tell us that we need to change does not mean they can give you the tools to do it. Life can be confusing and tough. The power of friendship can cut through the random factors to keep you focused. You do not have to go at it alone; people have been pairing up for years. God is totally into fellowship, counsel, and unity and empowers us through friendship.
Women especially need to have friendships that are healthy, encouraging and empowering. Mothers, daughters and sisters are not always the ones we go to first. Who better understands us than our friends? We need to be willing to make time for them to be a part of our lives. The power of friendship will change the world if we let it.