We're Not That Cool (Why We Need Friends).

We are going through a epic friendship and community crisis.
       Our culture has drifted far into a strange sort of individualistic isolation and we don't seem to know how to get out of it.  I don't believe we really want to live like this.  We are starting to realize that individualism really doesn't benefit us the way we thought it would.  Turns out we are not that cool all by ourselves. 
        LOTS of studies show we are feeling pretty lonely as a society made up of mighty individuals.  Turns out it's nice to have people around us who are for us, who love us.  Maybe being needed and needy is not such a bad thing after all.
       But what do we do when we look around and realize we have worked ourselves into a isolated space?  Where are these mythical creatures called "friends" and how do we invite them into our lives?  How important are friends and community anyway?  How do we even make friends as grown ups?  What happened between our happy clappy playground friendships where it was so easy, "Tag you're it and now we're friends!" and our grown up lives? Why does life feel like we are camped out in a constant game of dodgeball?  As if we are the last man standing, in our cotton gym outfit with our name on it in sharpie, and things are just being hucked at us?  Having friends as a grown up is like realizing that you have a whole all star dodge ball team with you catching throws, blocking cheap shots and #winning.  You feel like someone has your back, and suddenly dodgeball, aka "life", isn't so terrifying anymore (Clearly I hate dodgeball.  It's the WORST.).

            Maybe this friendship thing matters more than we thought it did. 

            We have become a culture where the word "friend" means something less than it used to.  We can friend and unfriend with the click of a button. We are lucky if these people are actually acquaintances.  They are people whose Instagram feeds we compare ourselves to.  Now I love love love technology but it's easy to hide your heart behind a screen.  We know that's not adequate community, but it's tempting.  It's tempting to value our independence, to value our busy-ness, and to push something complicated like friendship away. 

            There is such power in friendship. We loose touch with that power when we isolate behind lesser things.  It's there that we become ineffective, purposeless and lonely. We begin to doubt who we are when we are constantly alone with ourselves.  We need other people to shake us out of our headspace-because it gets kinda weird in there sometimes, right? 

            God didn't create us to be alone.    

            Meaning is derived from who your life impacts.  Our greatest purpose, the thing we are created for in life will never be self serving.  It will always surround our people.  It is with people that our greatest stories will be told.  We are created to be a part of the body, not to be masters of all.  Life will always ask more of us than we can give it alone.  Our people provide our lives with a purpose bigger than ourselves and the encouragement to get there.  This is the power of community.  Purpose and encouragement.    

             So if there is such great power in community, how do we harness it and work towards it?  How do we live with purpose?

            First, even Jesus had to create his own community.  I know for me, sometimes I just expect to walk up on some community and be invited to join it.  I keep waiting around, for my tribe to find me.  It feels so good to be invited.  To be wanted.  These are good things, but how often does it seem like there is no space for us?  We are left on the outside.  I have experienced this many times-I bet you have too at some point.  We are fun people.  Why do we feel this way? 

            It is because there are very few people who are brave enough to build community.  There is a community builder shortage.  Jesus was someone who invited.  We are called to be like Jesus, so we are called to be builders of community.  Be someone who invites, because you know how good it feels to be invited.  We know what it feels like to be an outcast, don't we?  The good news is outcasts are who Jesus chose to sit at his table.  When you feel like there is no space for you, it is time to curate your own beautiful table full of people that you make feel welcome, invited and wanted. 

            A second reason to be a community builder is because whether we like it or not, this world is a battlefield.  It asks something hard from all of  us at some point.  When you are in battle, you don't wait for warriors to come to you.  You don't face the enemy by yourself and hope for the best when there are people equipped to fight along side you.  You go out and recruit fighters. 

            Build these tables in times of peace.  That way when the war sweeps through you are prepared.  When life gets too hard you have warriors beside you.  They fight with you, they pray for you, they encourage you, they shield you, they bring you snacks.   Yes it's scary and awkward and you might get rejected by someone.  The community you will form will be worth any small struggle of awkwardness on the front end.  Don't wait to join a community. You may wait forever.  Be someone who invites, be someone who creates tables where there are none.  Be a brother or sister warrior for someone who needs help.       

            Be a community builder.

            Secondly, be a people builder.  When Jesus started his ministry he could have went out on his own.  He could have made himself great by creating gold or making himself king. It seems like that would have been less messy.  Instead, he gathered a group of friends.  He created a community.  He came to earth and surrounded himself with outcasts.  Why? 

            I wonder if Jesus is telling us that the greatest miracle, the greatest power in the universe is the unlimited potential in a person who is believed in and loved.  That is where he spent his precious time as God on this earth-trying to get people to understand what was in them, healing them, speaking life over them, pointing them to their destiny. 

            The crazy thing is God has given us this great power to believe in each other.  We can actually miraculously change lives by looking at people with the eyes of Jesus and seeing who they are becoming.  We have the power to speak courage into our friend's lives.  The kind of bravery that Jesus asks of us, the kind of bravery that changes the world, happens in community when we speak good things over each other.  Don't be afraid or intimidated or weirded out to speak encouragement over your people.  You have more power than you know to speak purpose into the people around you.

            When I say that it is important to encourage people I'm not just talking about puffin sunshine at everyone you meet.  I'm talking about deciding intentionally who you are FOR.  Now this doesn't mean that you are not for other people.  God has specific people he gives us to cheerlead, to speak truth and grace over and to encourage in who they are becoming.  I don't think we see this in everybody, but we have our sacred handful.  If you're drawing a blank, ask God to show you who they are.  You can change the course of a whole life by intentional encouragement. 

            Be a people builder. 

            In doing this the third facet of community happens: you become a purpose builder.  You build up God's purpose in yourself and in others.  The thing that you need is the same thing you have to offer someone else.  When you need community, sometimes it is waiting for you to be the builder.  The courage that you need and the ways that you need to be believed in may be the same ways that you are called to be "for" someone else and to be a people builder.  Be intentional.  What unique thing were you created to offer the people around you?  This is where your purpose lies. 

            When you choose to create community and believe in people, you are given the gift of influence in their lives.  You start to change the people around you.  You exponentially create hope, and a purpose that pushes others towards courage.  Influence is very much like another word, influenza.  It spreads through contact.  When you believe in what your people are becoming, you push them to be the amazing things God is calling them to be. Often they turn around and do that for the people around them and the influence multiplies.  I believe this is part of our divine calling. 

            Hebrews 10:24 says we are called to spur one another on to love and good deeds.    There is a Divine mandate on us to live outside of ourselves.  My hope is that we realize the power we have been given to be the cure for loneliness and purposelessness.  That we are brave and do it even if it feels bananas at first.  That we give away love and encouragement like we are made of them.  That we build community when we need it ourselves. 

            You may give someone just the right amount of hope to keep walking in their purpose and that, my friend is a miracle that impacts destiny.  Don't underestimate the power you hold.  I truly believe in the power of God in you to change lives.  I believe that you are miraculous, and that you are an answer and a blessing.  Believe it.  Walk in your purpose.  Walk in community. 

Comments

Thank you for sharing this! I

Thank you for sharing this! I love your vision! We all need to have this Kingdom mindset! ❤️❤️❤️

Thank you!

Thanks so much, Amy! You are so good at encouraging and inviting people! Thanks for reading.

Lynsey this is a great

Lynsey this is a great preface for the book you are writing. PTL!

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