Friends make coffee taste even better!
In the book How People Grow, the authors Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend write:
“ People’s most basic need in life is relationship. People connected to other people thrive and grow, and those not connected wither and die. It is a medical fact, for example, that from infancy to old age, health depends on the amount of social connection people have. Infants and older people die from lack of relationship, and those in the middle suffer and fail to recover from illness."
I really think God was on to something with this relationship business. Obviously He knew what he was doing. He created relationships from the beginning, just check out Genesis. He wanted man for camaraderie and wanted man to have a mate. This relationship stuff was not lost on him. He digs it, too. I honestly believe He drinks coffee with his good friends. I know Paul sits with Him in a gold paved alcove so they can chat about the fate of the world, I just know it! There is no way He hasn't sat with my mom and had a good cuppa and discussed her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. I think God likes a sweet latte. I’m not sure why I think that, but it just seems right. Either that or plain black coffee, strong and thick. Whatever His liking, he is drinking it up there with good friends.
God’s perfect grace comes to us in relationships. I have had some friends ask me for examples of what God’s grace really looks like here on Earth and the first thing I though of was relationships. To actually see tangible grace can sometimes be hard to describe if you are looking for physical happenings. But, relationships are one tangible way God shows his free grace. God loves us so much that he desires that we live in great relationships to give us the grace we need so often. I love this quote from How People Grow, “God wore people as his uniform”. Isn’t that the truth? God is not so far off and out of touch as some may think, floating around in the sky on a cloud or strolling the streets of gold as angels sing to him. He is living right here with us through his people. This is so visible to me, to actually have living proof that God is walking with me. And, this living proof is through the relationships God has given me to cultivate and see his grace. This means He is walking with me through my friends and relationships whom He has perfectly put into my path as I experience pain, heartache, joy and accomplishments.
One sunny day about 10 years ago I sat with my very best friend, Jen, at a Starbucks. We sat outside and enjoyed our hot treat, although she may have had a cold, strawberry drink, either way, we were at a coffee house together. At that time I shared with her that I had been diagnosed with cancer for the second time. What I remember most about that coffee chat was that she cried. I asked her why she was crying and she said, "my best friend has cancer!". I never really thought that I was important enough for anyone to cry over the state of my health. At that time, I knew that this special lady would be with me for the long haul. And boy was she. This was grace God was giving to me when I needed it. She was with me when I first put on a knitted hat to keep my bald head warm and was the first to tell me never to wear it in public. You might be thinking this was harsh considering the state of baldness I was in and the reason for it, but I appreciated it more than anything. To know that I had a friend that was honest, loving, caring, up front, strong, and beautiful meant everything to me. She is the picture of God's great grace in my life.
Of course there are other friends, the ones who read books with me that keep me focused on our God Almighty. The ones who bowl with me on Wednesday and Friday nights who allow me to have fun and be silly, yet still love me no matter what my score. There is the small group I meet with every Tuesday to study God's word. The group who I text with prayer requests, who put on their Armor of God at every turn, no matter what time of day or night I text, and pray with the strength of any warrior. The one who keeps me focused on my health and fitness and keeps me real as a mom and grandma. These are the people I do life with. The ones who come to my New Year's Eve party despite a record snow storm. These are the people whom God has put in my life, given to me essentially, so that I can feel His grace every minute of every day.
Why is this important? Why do you need to read about it or need to know about my friends? Because it is important to God. In God’s own words he says, “Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.” (1 Peter 4:10) He has given us each the gifts we need to share his grace with the people we are in relationship with. As for women friendships, I believe the qualities of my very best friends are the ones to be examined as what grace might look like in relationships.
Jesus was dependent on relationships. He needed his people around him to help carry out his mission. This is a great example for us to follow. How much more should we have relationships that are full of grace if God himself needed it. I say this because not all women I know believe they need relationships. They are willing to hide away and be miserable rather than reach out to accept the grace that may be given in a friendship. They would rather act as if they are strong enough to handle it all without reaching out for the grace of God. We need to be comforted, understood and strengthened and we need to use our relationships to fulfill this need.
Relationships will grow with God’s grace when we both love and accept the people in our lives. This doesn’t mean you have to love and accept everyone. But, if you are truly looking to build strong relationships, grace is an ingredient that is needed for that to happen. If you are waiting for God to show you his grace directly, open your eyes to your relationships, your amazing friends that surround you, the girls who bring you coffee. He is showing you His grace through these people. These people are giving you God’s strength to continue, to celebrate, to fall and get back up. They are giving you God’s direction in honest answers and good advice. I believe that if you and your friends are believers He is inside us having us live out his grace in this world.
These amazing friends that God has given you will make your coffee taste even better when you are spending time with them. God's grace, through them, will be given to you to enjoy and relish. These friends are what God wants for you. These friends are God in the flesh. These friends will help you thrive and grow, not wither and die. If this is your desire and is not something you currently have, ask God to send these special people into your life. If you have these friends, begin to build and grow stronger, more powerful relationships with them and see where it takes you. The feeling of God's grace that you will receive will move you to a life that is unbelievable and you will be living it with people who love you unconditionally and who will bring you coffee at any moment. God knows we need these relationships, it's time you take the steps to build these and to feel God walk right alongside you.