THERE ARE MANY KINDS OF FRIENDS, SOME FOR LIFE, SOME THAT ARE A CHALLENGE, SOME THERE FOR A SEASON ON THE ROADS OF LIFE
There are many kinds of friends. There are friends from childhood. We may keep them forever. The same is true of friends from high school and college, then friends from work, friends from church, friends from clubs, friends from wherever we meet them.
When we pray for and wish each other well, friends are invaluable. God put them there, for the most part.
There are times the devil does also. Let's face it. We all have had folks in our lives who -- not to judge them, but to simply state the case -- presented us with roadblocks or temptation; led us astray (though really we led ourselves astray); caused us heartbreak or damage or angst.
Make sure you have forgiven any friends in your past who you need to forgive! (Forgiveness comes easy when we pray for them.)
There are friends for life -- and the afterlife -- and there are "friends for a season."
You know also how this can be: We have good friends at various stages of life but then "outgrow" each other, wander on different paths, no longer have as much in common.
Often, this is because one or another has taken a spiritual path (leaving the worldly one, which was the basis of the friendship).
We change spiritually and thus friends change; there are times that there is a resistance because a person has decided to openly follow Jesus. There can be a resistance because spirits operate. Time moves on.
Let it. We need not strain nor mourn over spiritual progression. There are friends who were in our lives for various purposes and now perhaps the purpose is complete.
Move on, if it is a strain. Ask for the illumination of God's glory. In His glory (as at Tabor) is truth!
Never discard a friendship (unless it was outright evil). But neither be in bondage to one.
Even relatives can be close "for a season" (although obviously they remain always our relatives, even into the afterlife).
The point: friends should not inhibit spirituality.
Now, that doesn't mean judgmentalism. It's wrong to cast folks away because, spiritually, we don't think they stack up. That's pretentious. Everybody should be a potential friends, no matter their religious beliefs or lack thereof. In the afterlife, we'll be disappointed if we see that we hurt people just because they didn't think or believe exactly as did we.
And remember: friends weave in and out of our lives. A friend who "disappears" for a long while may turn up again. We all have different journeys in life.
All those journeys are equal.
Our main concern is to love and fulfill our purpose, which can be detected if what you are doing is bringing you closer to God.
But if there is a spiritual chasm, a relationship may be meant to be a bit more limited. Many times, at reunions, folks will revel that so-and-so "hasn't changed a bit" -- as if this is a great thing. And it's fine in one way -- but not if it means a person has become stuck and has not progressed. The nature of life and its challenges are that we should be changing (always positively, purifying).
Friends for a season: we have to see life as intersections. At different times we offer each other different things. There are times in life when we intersect with certain others and then points during which we do not: the roadways are different, there are different purposes, there are different missions. It's God Who designs the lessons of life. We're all connected. He has a place for every person in Heaven.
"In the life review I got to see that there are other people's paths that don't have anything to do with mine and now I have a tolerance I didn't have before because I saw that they may have a path and purpose in life that doesn't necessarily have to agree with mine," said a fellow who "died" and returned.
"We're going to exchange paths, we're going to cross paths, and we're going to interact and many times I may not agree with their personal views or what they're doing or what they want to achieve in life, but that's all right. I think in a lot of life's interactions we need to enjoy the good and the bad. There are people who are going to push our buttons and they can be teachers to us. I've learned to accept myself and accept others."
Let no one drag you down, nor bring upon you evil. But:
See opportunity in opposition. Sometimes, what we dislike in others we dislike in ourselves. What we have not forgiven ourselves for is often what we condemn in other people. When you've changed from the path of a friend and there is even antagonism -- or simply whenever you run up against folks who provoke ill feelings -- look upon it as an opportunity to hone your ability to love.
There may be something to be learned, and when you learn a truth, the heart sings.
[Note also: Michael Brown retreats: Connecticut and retreats in California]
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