Wednesday, June 28, 2017

The Beauty of Kindred Spirit Friendships

{above picture-my sister + I with five new kindred spirit friends we've just gotten to know this year. Love you girls!}

I'm so thankful for friends. They add such spice and beauty to life. God gives us friendships to show us an outpouring of His love, I think. The community and closeness that comes from my friends is such a blessing in my life, and I am so grateful for it. My siblings are obviously my closest friends, and the ones I hang out with the most (and I will be talking about that soon here!) but it is good and healthy to have other friends in addition to family, and today I want to talk to you about those "other friends" that you need to have in your lives.

You may be surprised to hear that I'm not really a social girl. I can have a good time in a crowd, but, at heart, I'm really more of an introvert that an extrovert, and I love quality time spent with...silence!

Enter tour life, ha!

I had to teach myself how to be sociable and enjoy time with lots of people. I had to learn how to enjoy being with hundreds of new people, everyday! The truth of the matter is, even introverts need and are blessed by the beauty of friends in their lives. You might be a social butterfly with thousands of IG followers + dozens upon dozens of "kindred spirits". You might be like me with hundreds of friends but a much smaller number with whom I stay in regular contact. Or you may be something in-between. Either way, no matter what your personality, I am here to tell you today that good friendships are important and needed in our lives. I believe very strongly that it is absolutely vital to have good friend circles, specifically with those that are the spurring onward, kindred spirit types.

"A man that hath friends must shew himself friendly: and there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother." Proverbs 18:24

However, as with anything good, there is a downside to friendships. And that is that it is so easy to
A) get caught up in bad ones
B) spend too much time on friendships that don't benefit
C) lose sight of the importance of GOOD friendships

Friends will influence you. You will influence friends. And that influence (both ways) will either be good or bad. If you want to be making and receiving good influences, then you have to be intentional about that. It won't happen accidentally.

Life is too short to just go through and have all friendships just be one big party. Don't get me wrong-I love friends who can have fun and laugh lots because that's me too! But at the end of the day it's not the party that is going to count-it is where and how you INVESTED your friendships. Were you benefited and grown from the time spent in a friendship? Were you blessed and encouraged? Or was your time squandered?

We all, most likely, have friends in every "set" I'm going to describe here. And, contrary to what you might think, I personally am of the opinion that it is good to know people and rub shoulders with the different kinds in each of the categories listed below. If all your friends are kindred spirits, then chances are you aren't doing a whole lot of outreach. However, if all your friends are of the outreach type, then you are gonna get burned out in no time flat, and you are also going to be pulled down to the level of your "outreach" friends.

In friendships, it is very important to have a balance of giving/pouring out, and getting/coming in.

There are so many stories in the Bible about friendships. Daniel + his three friends. David + Jonathan. Naomi + Ruth. The list could go on. We can see in each of these stories how friendships not only strengthened and edified these people, but they were a means of furthering the gospel and giving us beautiful examples to follow.

"Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners." 1 Corinthians 15:33
*This is that friend who you maybe have known for years. Or maybe you've not known them long at all. Sometimes it is the friend to whom you have tried to reach out repeatedly and received a cold shoulder. This friend is more of an acquaintance. You often feel like when you are with them you are wasting your time. (note: this might be your fault, not theirs!) They are shallow and have no desire to "go deep", to really make a difference or even have conversations that matter. For me, I have found that most who fall into this category are the boy crazy, shopping crazy, movie crazy lot. I love movies and shopping as much as anybody. (boys, not so much, hehe!) But if those things are driving someone's life...than I'm probably not going to be getting much encouragement out of constantly hanging out with that friend. And chances are if they are consumed by those things, they aren't going to be very interested in intentional conversation anyways. We need to always be on the lookout for not allowing our lives to be overrun with these kinds of friends. They aren't true friends anyhow, and they're just going to drag you down. Hang out with people you want to become like.
"Show me your friends, and I'll show you your future." -unknown

"Faithful are the wounds of a friend...." Proverbs 27:6a
*This is that friend who is growing, who wants to learn, whom God places in your life (often just for a season) to encourage. These are mentorship type friendships and are absolutely vital as well. It is important to be giving and pouring out, in the same way that others (our mentors and/or kindred spirits) give out and pour into us. Don't ever let all that love just sit and pile up onto you---give it away again to others! Often this type of friendship occurs with those who are younger than you and needing advice/a listening ear from someone who is just a few years further on down the path of life. As I mentioned, sometimes these friendships are more seasonal/for a time, but sometimes they are friendships that turn into the kindred spirit type later on. Either way, you need some people like this in your life.

"Greater love hath no man than this, than a man lay down his life for his friend." John 15:13
*And finally, the kind of friend that this post is mainly about. This is the friend who has your back. Always. The friend whom you will send a text at a crazy hour to let them know that you need prayer, because you KNOW beyond a shadow of a doubt that they will get on their knees and intercede for you. This is the friend whom you will drop everything to be with you in a time of need. This is the friend who just "gets you". The one with whom you can be serious and brutally honest. But also the one who has seen you in your craziest moments and loves you even when you're weird. This is the friend who is your spiritual hero; who spurs you onward spiritually. With this kind of friend, your conversation can be broad and varied but will always be coming back to praying for and challenging one another in the Lord. Always. Your closest friends must be this kind.
If you want to grow more like Jesus in your friendships, you have to surround yourself with these influences who are also know Jesus and are actively seeking to serve Him with their lives.

Now, some of you are asking, "But I don't know people like that! How can I have close friends like this when I don't even know anybody who fits in that last category?"

First of all, ask Jesus to send you friends like this. Second of all, don't just expect them to land on your doorstep dropped from a hot air ballon. You have to be friendly, open, available, and you have to go places. Be a social person! Even if you are an introvert. Get out of your shell and your house and find some people somewhere. =) Host events at your home. Find a good church/s to attend. (I have several friends who attend one church on Sunday but throughout the week attend Bible studies at other churches that have strong groups of godly young people attending) I'm not including links today, but it is amazing how many Christian family/fellowship/etc networking groups there are these days! It isn't nearly as hard to meet good friends as it used to be. Yes, godliness is becoming less and less, but there are still people out there who love Jesus and want to meet others who love Him too.
Note. Like I mentioned at the beginning of this post, God gave us family first, and they are amazing friends. And it is also important to have friends of all ages. But it is ALSO good to have strong Christian friends in your own stage of life. 

Well, this has gotten waaay longer than I intended! (would you believe me if I said I wrote half of this in October of 2015 and the rest of it today? #truth) There's much more I could say, like how important it is to have strong sibling relationships, or strong friendships with older people, or strong + good friendships with guys...but I will save those thoughts for another time, and close with a little wisdom from the Anne girl, who had some great thoughts on friendship + the importance of it. =)

"Kindred spirits are not so scarce as I used to think. 
It's splendid to find out that there are so many of them in the world." -Anne of Green Gables

I would love to hear how each of you build + invest in your friendships! 
-Chels

12 comments:

  1. Chelsy, thanks for this post. I can see myself in several of the categories and I think God used this post so I can search myself and my friendships. I agree that family should be the closest friends in our lives, but I have to admit that I would rather spend time with my friends. Any suggestions? I want to be thankful and invest time in my sibs lives... but how can I do that when I am pushing them away at times?
    Well, once again, thanks! May God bless you, sweet girl, and I am keeping you and your family in my prayers as you travel. :)

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    1. The post on close family relationships is in the writing stage! Be watching!

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  2. Thanks so much, Chelsy. That was good. :)

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  3. Having good and encouraging friends is such a blessing! There are a couple of ways that I enjoy keeping in touch with people. Texting verses to them randomly throughout the month. Writing letters to them. Praying for them...asking them how I can pray for them. Calling and talking with them...when the time arises. Every now and then getting together to help in ministry opportunities. I wouldn't say that I have a lot of close close friends. Lots of causal ones...sometimes it's hard to know what to all make time for between family, work, music, ministry, and everything in between. Learning how to balance everything can definitely be a challenge. Trust in the Lord with all thine heart, and lean not unto thine own understanding in all thy ways acknowledge him and he shall direct thy paths.
    Chels thanks so much for taking the extra time and sharing your heart with us.
    Cheers!! Elizabeth Mitton

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  4. You model this kind of kindred spirit friendship SO beautifully Chels!I am so blessed to have you as a friend + am so incredibly inspired by your example. And yay for all things Anne of GG:)))

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  5. This post is so wonderful! Friendships are something I've always struggled with--my parents tease me that I attract the "stray puppies" type of friends. That descriptor makes me laugh, and I SO love helping people in every way I can, but there was a time when I had so many "outreach" friends that I absolutely burned out. Unfortunately, I thought all friendships were like that, where one person would suck the life from the other. But over the years, I've met so many amazing people who are now my friends and learned just how wrong I was!

    Just recently, Jesus blessed me with a most amazing friend. We clicked instantly, and after just a few months of knowing each other, we were able to talk, cry, pray, and text at all hours of the night and know the other would be there with listening ears. Our friendship has deepened so much this past year, especially, as both of us have gone through incredibly difficult trials. I always tell this sweet girl how blessed I am to have her, and how thankful I am that Christ brought us together.

    Your post blessed me so much! Thank you! <3

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  6. I've got some of the first two categories, but I can't really say that I have any of the third category yet except for siblings... I'm still working on cultivating that sort of relationship with people outside of my family. I've always had a hard time making friends (I'm an introvert too) and have too many times come pretty close to giving up on the idea of having a close friend, but you're right - that type doesn't just fall in your lap. It's something you've got to wait and pray for. Thanks for sharing!

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  7. This was such a beautiful post, Chelsy! I was wondering if you would consider writing a post about modesty with maybe different ideas and your favorite places to shop?? (Besides thrift stores that is. :P)

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    1. I will absolutely keep that in mind + hopefully do that in the future!
      Did you see the post on modesty that I wrote last spring?

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  8. This is really good and thought-provoking, Chels!

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  9. I finally got around to reading this now, and it's so good!! I've really struggled to find good friends in the past years and only in the last 3 have I really connected with people, and the Lord totally opened that door for me with scheduling conflicts for one camp I attended I had to switch camps and in doing so met some amazing girls! Thanks for this post, Chelsy!
    ~Hannah L.

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