Friday, May 20, 2011

Will You Be My Friend?

The other day I was sharing with my Bible study group about my insensitivity to other people’s feelings and overall lack of social awareness. For example, when one friend asked me about her new short haircut, I looked closely at her and said, “Oh, I’ve had bad hair cuts, too.” After sharing this, my neighbor Elizabeth asked with absolute sincerity and curiosity, “Penny, how do you have so many friends?” I paused for a moment and joked, “Maybe since I am so insensitive that I just don’t realize that they aren’t actually my friends.” While I joked about it, I really started to wonder, “How do I have so many really good friends?”

God has truly blessed me with wonderful friends, who know me, encourage me and bless me. Friends like my neighbor Elizabeth, wonderful college friends, and Kimberly, my best friend from high school. God has blessed me with friends that are much smarter, more stylish, better organized, more creative, compassionate, and better singers. It is truly miraculous that someone as socially inept as I am, with no sense of style, and who discovered that I was lactose intolerant late in life; would be so blessed with such wonderful, gifted beautiful friends.

As I was pondering the miracle of my friends – God brought to mind the prayer my friend’s mom, Beth prayed in 8th grade for her daughter Kimberly to have good friends. Kimberly’s family had just moved to Charlotte and so Beth started praying for her daughter to have good friends, friends that would encourage her and bless her. As Kimberly and I grew to be friends in 9th grade, Beth shared with me that I was an answer to her prayer for Kimberly.

As Beth shared her prayer with me, God used it to begin the process of softening my hard heart. Two years before, I had decided that I could achieve my middle school goals of good grades and friends without God’s help. But instead of the success and happiness that I longed for, I was lonely, had bad grades, didn’t have enough money and had a really bad perm.

On my own, I had failed at all the things that I thought would make people like me and want to be my friend. God used Beth’s prayer to show me that He could give me good friends. As I grew in my friendship with Kimberly in high school, I realized that friendship wasn’t based on who I was because I was not worthy to have such a beautiful, smart, giving friend as Kimberly. I could never reciprocate the trips to the beach or put gas in her car. I realized that it was God who provided friends. When I went to college, I realized that my Father God could answer my heart’s prayer for friends, just as He had answered Beth’s prayer for a friend for her daughter. In the years, since He has abundantly answered my prayer for friends.

While thinking about Elizabeth’s question, I realized my friends are not a reflection of my worthiness, my sense of style, or my achievements; they are a reflection of God’s love for me. James 1:17 says, “Every good and perfect gift comes down from the Father…”, My friends are a wonderful gift from God, the on-going answer to a Mother’s prayer for her 8th grade daughter to have a good friend. (NIV)

How has God answered your prayer for friends for yourself and for your children?