Posts Tagged ‘Friends’

Conflict is a very natural part of life and of every relationship. Because everyone is different, there’s bound to be a time when they disagree and conflict may arise. Conflict in and of itself is not bad; it’s how we handle conflict that could determine whether the relationship breaks up or if it lasts for a lifetime of love and good memories.


Peace does not necessarily mean the absence of conflict but rather that conflict is being managed appropriately. Ignoring or avoiding conflict generally leads to bitterness and resentment which generally leads to feeling less love and even hatred. And when you get to that point, it is very difficult to find any good reason to stay together.


The psalmist wrote, “For the sake of my family and friends, I say it again: live in peace!” Psalm 122:8 (MSG)


Learn to manage your conflict in such a way that you will find positive, workable solutions which will be satisfactory to all of you. Ask yourself, “What difference will this make in three days? In three years? In thirty years? Learn to live in Peace.

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Normally we think of grief as deep sorrow, especially that caused by someone’s death. But grief can happen when we lose a job or when we suffer the loss of a limb, or the loss of health or mobility.


The experience of grief is unique to every person. No one can or should tell you how long you should grieve for a loss. There is no specific period of time for how long you should grieve or a prescribed way for how to grieve. Going through grief is painful, dark, heavy. It crushes you, hurts you, squeezes your energy and your soul. Jesus, as He was facing His own death, felt grief sucking the life out of Him so He told His disciples: “My soul is crushed with grief to the point of death.” Mark 14:34 (NLT2)


During the tender journey of grief, take care of the essentials to sustain life. Eat healthy food, drink plenty of water, get enough rest, spend time with family and friends. Only time will make grief more bearable, but we will come out to the light at the other end.

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“The kingdom of heaven is like a certain king who arranged a marriage for his son, Matthew 22:2 (NKJV)

Philosopher and author of ‘Existentialism and Romantic Love’, Skye Cleary,[i] suggests that German philosopher Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche would have “extoled the idea that marriage makes intimate relationships nobler because it turns the frivolity of romance into an orderly social structure. Given that he thought that making promises differentiates humans from animals, he commended the commitment that marriage inspires.”  She adds, “Nietzsche would have been disappointed with the erosion of standards in our increasingly hedonistic world and encouraged us to think more seriously about marriage and vows.”  Using Nietzsche’s writings, Cleary lists ten questions that everyone should consider before walking down the aisle. Ellen White also has words to say about these questions:

  1. Are you crazy in love? Don’t make any serious decisions while you’re intoxicated with love, or deeply infatuated. Romance is fleeting, but marriage is for a lifetime. “Sensuality often makes love grow too quickly, so that the root remains weak and is easy to pull out.” Beyond Good and Evil

God’s messenger wrote, “True love is not a strong, fiery, impetuous passion. On the contrary, it is calm and deep in its nature. It looks beyond mere externals, and is attracted by qualities alone. It is wise and discriminating, and its devotion is real and abiding.”[ii]

  1. Can you be great friends? Great friends inspire, challenge, and support one another. “The best friend will probably acquire the best wife, because a good marriage is founded on the talent for friendship.” Human, All Too Human

These words are so encouraging:  “Study to advance the happiness of each other. Let there be mutual love, mutual forbearance. Then marriage, instead of being the end of love, will be as it were the very beginning of love. The warmth of true friendship, the love that binds heart to heart, is a foretaste of the joys of heaven.”[iii]

Father God, help us to think carefully about these questions and talk about them before we take the life-changing step of marriage for a lifetime.

[i] http://www.huffingtonpost.com/skye-cleary/10-essential-questions-to_b_7699300.html

[ii] White, E.G. The Adventist Home, p. 51

[iii] White, E.G.  The Adventist Home, p. 106

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Ditch those friends

My friends scorn me, but I pour out my tears to God. Job 16:20 (NLT)

Friendships are very important for our health and well-being, but some can be very harmful as well.  Negative friendships may cause stress, frustration, and may even put us in situations that could jeopardize us and our loved ones.  Amanda MacMillan, who writes for Yahoo!Health,[i] suggest five types of friends we should ditch, four our own sake:

Negative Nancy.  Whether good or bad, moods are contagious.  A friend may be going through a tough time and needs to talk to you about them.  You may need to ask yourself if this is an occasional thing, or a chronic pattern that’s making it too difficult for you to handle your emotions or your own life.

Nit-picky Norman.  If you reach out to your friend and all you get in return is complaints, criticism, and constant demands it could be harmful to your health. According to a study, frequent arguments and conflicts within a person’s social circle were associated with an increased risk of death in middle age. While conflict management may help reduce these dangers, you may have to eliminate those friends from your life.

Backstabber Bob.  So a friend let you down in some way, but he’s promised to make it up to you. Is this a one-time thing or a pattern? And what does your gut tell you about this friend, and about the future of your friendship?” These questions can help you decide whether you should try to mend the relationship or let it go.

Chronic-canceler Claire.  If you spend more time waiting around for this person to show up, or trying to schedule and reschedule plans than actually spending time together, you may want to let this friendship run its course.  It may be time to stop wasting your energy.

Bad-example Betty.  If you feel yourself getting sucked into bad behavior whenever you spend time together, it’s time to back off.

You may not need to ditch these friends altogether, especially if they also have good qualities you value, or if you know they have the potential to change. But be aware of how their unhealthy habits are rubbing off on you.

Father God, help me to be a good friend and to have good friends.

[i] https://www.yahoo.com/health/5-types-of-friends-you-need-to-ditch-115777073813.html

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Even my own familiar friend in whom I trusted, Who ate my bread, Has lifted up his heel against me. Psalm 41:9 (NKJV)

Can men and women be “just friends”?  As Dr. Leslie Becker-Phelps[i] explains that the real answer depends on the particular people in that relationship. But if we are totally honest with ourselves we will recognize that some men and women feel undeniable attraction and cannot just be friends.  There are some, however, who have managed to maintain a healthy, platonic relationship.  Dr. Phelps suggests that when deciding whether your friendship really is or can remain platonic, you should consider the following warning signs that you might be going over the “just friends” line:

  • You think about your friend throughout your day.
  • You have romantic thoughts and feelings about your friend.
  • You have strong feelings of missing your friend when you are not together.
  • You are single, but would rather spend time with your friend than go on a date. You need to ask yourself if your friendship is interfering with you nurturing a romantic relationship.

If you find that even one of these warning signs apply to you, it’s time to reconsider that friendship. Dr. Phelps suggests you ask yourself these questions:

  • If you are not in another relationship, do you want to try to take the leap from friend to romantic partner?
  • If you know that your friend is not open to a romantic relationship with you, is it wiser for you to maintain such a close relationship or put distance in it?
  • If you are in another relationship, you have some serious decisions to make about how to proceed. Is your “platonic” relationship a threat to your romantic one? Which one do you really want to pursue?

Male-female relationships are complex. Be honest and ask yourself – can we really be “just friends”?

Father God, help me to be clear as to the relationships in my life and to maintain clear boundaries between them.

[i] http://blogs.webmd.com/art-of-relationships/2015/04/can-men-and-women-be-just-friends.html?ecd=wnl_sxr_041115&ctr=wnl-sxr-041115_nsl-promo_1&mb=K2VcbkxhrhREAZ5zC2UpheHnVev1imbCHYS8QQY8uqo%3d\

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For many years I had heard the words of Lou Gehrig’s speech and thought they were very profound, particularly for a guy who was diagnosed with a debilitating and terminal disease.   Many of us could probably quote his words, “today I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of this earth.”  But recently I read the entire speech, which apparently was not written ahead of time, and was even more moved with admiration and appreciation.  Here are the words of Lou Gehrig’s speech, delivered on July 4, 1939, at Yankee Stadium:

“Fans, for the past two weeks you have been reading about the bad break I got. Yet today I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of this earth. I have been in ballparks for seventeen years and have never received anything but kindness and encouragement from you fans.

“Look at these grand men. Which of you wouldn’t consider it the highlight of his career just to associate with them for even one day? Sure, I’m lucky. Who wouldn’t consider it an honor to have known Jacob Ruppert? Also, the builder of baseball’s greatest empire, Ed Barrow? To have spent six years with that wonderful little fellow, Miller Huggins? Then to have spent the next nine years with that outstanding leader, that smart student of psychology, the best manager in baseball today, Joe McCarthy? Sure, I’m lucky.

“When the New York Giants, a team you would give your right arm to beat, and vice versa, sends you a gift – that’s something. When everybody down to the groundskeepers and those boys in white coats remember you with trophies – that’s something. When you have a wonderful mother-in-law who takes sides with you in squabbles with her own daughter – that’s something. When you have a father and a mother who work all their lives so you can have an education and build your body – it’s a blessing. When you have a wife who has been a tower of strength and shown more courage than you dreamed existed – that’s the finest I know.

“So I close in saying that I may have had a tough break, but I have an awful lot to live for.”

Among the things and people he’s thankful and appreciative for are:

1. His mother-in-law.

2. His parents.

3. His wife.

4. The opportunity to play with and be surrounded by so many fine players.

We should stop and take stock of our lives, and when we do we might just find out we are more than lucky, we’re truly blessed to have the people in our lives who make us better people, the daily opportunities, and so much more.  Even in sickness, hardship, or pain we could conclude, “I may have had a tough break, but I have an awful lot to live for.”

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Talk Grief Away

Scripture: (Job 10:1 NKJV)  “My soul loathes my life; I will give free course to my complaint, I will speak in the bitterness of my soul.

Observation: Bildad, the Shuhite, one of Job’s friends who came to be with him in his sorrow, attempted to “correct” Job and to show him where he was wrong.  Job responds from the depths of his pain.

Application: In talking about “The Inner World of Grief,” Elizabeth Kubler-Ross encourages those in bereavement to talk about their grief and to talk about their loss and their loved one who is no longer with them.  I will quote her words: THE STORY
When your loved one became sick, there were medical visits, case histories, and physical tests.  Then they found the lump and your world immediately began to change. (62)
Now you sit alone remembering the story of your loss.  You may find yourself retelling the story to friends and family.  Immediately following the loss, everyone wants to know how it happened.  You tell your tale through your sadness and tears.  You talk about it after the funeral.  When friends come to visit, you discuss the parts of the story you continue to grapple with, like “I didn’t see it coming,” or “They told us she was sick, but none of us realized just how sick she was.” (62)
As time passes, however, you may see others grow weary of hearing the story, although you are not yet tired of telling it.  You may not consciously notice this, but when you encounter people who haven’t heard it you are grateful to have their ear. (62)
Telling the story is part of the healing of a traumatic event, no different from the trauma of large-scale disaster. (62)
While you try to comprehend and make sense of something incomprehensible and your heart feels the pain of loss, your mind lags behind, trying to integrate something new into your psyche.  It is something that moved too fast for your mind to understand.  The pain is in your heart, while your mind lingers in the facts of the story, reenacting and recalling the scene of the crime against your heart.  Your heart and mind are joined in one state, pain remembering pain. (63)
Telling the story helps to dissipate the pain. Telling your story often and in detail is primal to the grieving process.  You must get it out.  Grief must be witnessed to be healed.  Grief shared is grief abated.  Support and bereavement groups are important, not only because they allow you to be with others who have experienced loss, but because they provide another forum for talking about the devastating events that befell your world.  Tell your tale, because it reinforces that your loss mattered. (63)
You will find the story changing over time; not necessarily what happened, but what part you focus on.  Telling the story may also offer the opportunity for important feedback or information, as the listener may have missing pieces of the puzzle or insight you previously lack. (63)
The stories we tell give meaning to the fact that our loved one died, which is why, in American Indian cultures, stories are given the highest priority.  In fact, the function of the elderly is to tell the stories of the lives and deaths of the ancestors, the stories that keep their history alive. (64)
Our stories contain an enormous amount of pain, sometimes too much for one person to handle.  In sharing our story, we dissipate the pain little by little, giving a small drop to those we meet to disperse it along the way. (65)
Sometimes a loss is so great, you need a larger platform.  Sometimes people create videos, write stories about books. (65)
Some speak about their losses to groups. (66)
When someone is telling you their story over and over, they are trying to figure something out.  There has to be a missing piece or they too would be bored.  Rather than rolling your eyes and saying “there she goes again,” ask questions about parts that don’t connect.  Be the witness and even the guide.  Look for what they want to know. (66)

When I worked or volunteered as a Hospice Chaplain, and later as a Grief and Bereavement Counselor, I reminded my families or clients what I once heard, that Pain Shared Is Pain Divided.  When we talk about our loss, our pain, our loved ones, we are sharing the load with others who are stronger  than we are at that point and who, hopefully, by listening can help us carry that heavy load until we are able to stand again on our own.
I have been asked often by people who want to help their friends or loved ones who are terminally ill or who have experienced a loss (a relative, their job, their house, etc.) what they should say to them.  They’re afraid to go visit their friend or loved one because, “I just don’t know what to say.”  What I always tell them is, “The best thing you can do for them is not what you say but that you are willing to just listen.”
Bildad, Job’s friend, got many things wrong, both about Job and about God.  But the one thing he did get right were his words: “He will yet fill your mouth with laughing, And your lips with rejoicing”  (Job 8:21 NKJV).  There will be a time when your friends or loved ones are ready to listen to words of encouragement and hope, and they will appreciate you reminding them that death is not forever, that grief and pain are not forever, but that one day death, pain, and suffering will come to a permanent end.

Prayer: Father, thank You that while we experience pain in this life, it too will come to an end when Jesus comes.  May He return soon so we can enjoy the peace and the happiness You intended from the beginning.

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