The Friendship MAPS study is in full swing at The Park Church! This week’s discussion is on Chapter 2: The Vital Exchange. Our focus was on the importance of the friendship dynamic and what threatens the gift exchange between friends. Here’s a recap of what was shared.
In my pre-mom days, I was a cardiac technician. I became quite familiar with the heart’s anatomy. I’ll spare you all the details. However, I believe the structure of this organ is similar to the anatomy of our friendships.
There is an outer, middle, and inner layer of the heart muscle and when each layer functions correctly, the heart beats as it should. When it comes to friendship, there is a rhythm that appeals to us too.
Why are your friends your friends? Consider these three layers to the friendship dynamic to help you answer this question.
The first layer is the significance of our choices: Ideally, a healthy bond forms making each person better than when the friendship began. Seeking God is the only way I know to choose well (see Proverbs 9:10). I recall countless times when a friend functioned as His ambassador in my life. Seeing each other through tough times and rejoicing in life’s victories can become a common occurrence between friends.
We are drawn to people because we see some benefit from the association or identify with some aspect of their character. But at some point in the friendship dynamic, we must decide how much we will reveal about ourselves and how much we will invest in the friendship.
This leads to the next layer, the threat of superficiality: God knows our hearts, but others have to discover its contents. Are you willing to allow a friend to see your heart defects or are you trying to convince them you have none?
Revealing our hurts or revisiting the harm we’ve caused can be touchy subjects. However, as trust is built between friends it forms a bridge to transparency. Sharing the details of our lives can allow us to see if the friendship is travel ready. Superficiality keeps us from finding God’s path for the friendship connection. But trusting Him keeps us and our expectations of others firmly planted in His promises.
The Sufficiency of God’s Grace: If there is glue that holds a friendship together, I know none better than the grace of God. Without it none of us can wisely commit to or endure the changes of the friendship dynamic.
I heard someone say, “Friends are like elevators. They can lift us up or bring us down.” When we are lifted by a friend, God’s grace is at work in them. If we are disappointed by a friend, it is an opportunity for His grace to work through us.
I thank God for my friends. Each one brings a unique blessing to my life. They vary in personality, age and ethnicity. But each friendship bond shares one thing in common – a willingness to travel and support one another on our journey through maturity, aspirations, perspectives and struggles (MAPS).
If you are flourishing or lacking on your friendship MAPS, here’s some good news: there is one Friend that sticks closer than anyone else. His name is Jesus. Whether we are at our best or barely making it through the day, knowing Him brings hope to the heart and joy to the soul.
“So now we can rejoice in our wonderful new relationship with God because our Lord Jesus Christ has made us friends of God.” – Romans 5:11