Friends are my favorite. Really. I’ve written about friendship several times before. My favorite TV show is Friends, I’m currently reading a book about the show “Friends” (I’ll Be There For You: The One About Friends), my most-loved childhood cartoon is The Fox and the Hound, and nothing fills my oversized coffee mug like time with friends.
I’m in a season of life in which I no longer take time with friends for granted. I seek it out like water in the desert and treasure it when found. When offered the opportunity to read and review Becoming Gertrude: How Our Friendships Shape Our Faith, I jumped at the chance. The subtitle spoke to a seeking part of my soul. But I was initially disappointed, feeling like this little book misrepresented itself. I got all the way to the end, closed the cover and thought, “That book wasn’t about friendship at all! It’s about service! Oh.”
The author, Janice Peterson, teaches that “you can’t separate caring from service in spiritual friendship”. It takes time and creativity to be a good friend, but so much growth comes from it. She says, in fact, that when this kind of hospitality is done well, “you experience something profound. Something like the Jewish word shalom – a sense of wholeness.” I was reminded that giving myself away doesn’t have to be a big thing – just an intentional one. And it requires slowing down. “Giving people space and a listening ear and heart are often rare in today’s world. And people are hungry for it, whether they’re aware of it or not.”
I confess I’ve been so concerned with what I’ve missed receiving from time with friends that I haven’t really thought about what I’m not giving. Selfishness works that way, I guess. When I opened my eyes to those around me I found someone dealing with chronic pain who is weary. But after spending some time with her, I learned she is also a hoot! And I saw a church member with no one to drive her home from major surgery and discovered a strong and faithful warrior who encourages me to be better. When I volunteered to help some friends with a big project – well, I just helped. Not every act of faithfulness gives immediate warm fuzzies. But…
Maybe…just maybe… friendship and service share a lot in common after all.
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Donna Reidland says
Like you, the older I get the more I value friendship. And as you’ve said so well, genuine friendship includes service, inconvenience (at times), encouragement, speaking the truth in love, and so much more. It requires giving of ourselves and will force us to deny our selfish nature. Maybe as you said … that’s the point.
Thanks for reading, Donna.
Wow! You have given me something to think about here. You have inspired me to be a better friend. We are attending a gathering tomorrow with a group of friends. There is one woman there who continually gets under my skin. I have a tendency to get impatient. I am going to give her some extra attention and compassion and see what makes her tick!
Good luck, Laurie. I would love an update!
T. Awad says
I like how you make the connections between friendship and service! It’s true friendship and not truly what it is without reciprocity- service to one another💜
Thank you for weighing in!
mummy here and there says
Yes nodding alone to this, wise words X #mixitup
This topic has been on my heart and this is just what I needed. I’m finally coming out of the season of young kids and as I’ve looked around I thought, where have my friendships gone? I’m ready to be more intentional about cultivating friendship. Giving more than I take. And being vulnerable (so hard). Thank you for this beautiful post. Visting from #GraceFullTuesday.
Adult friendships can be so hard! Praying for you right now in this, Julie.
Tina at Mommynificent says
I love your epiphany moment at the end of the book! 🙂 Thanks for sharing this at Booknificent Thursday on Mommynificent.com!
Thank you, Tina.
Calleen Petersen says
I love this- ” this kind of hospitality is done well, “you experience something profound. Something like the Jewish word shalom – a sense of wholeness.” Isn’t that what we all want to feel with our friendships? Visiting from #RechargeWednesday.
Thank you for engaging, Calleen!
Yes, when you think about it friendship and service go together very well. A good friend is there when you them and you for them whether it’s to pray, or sit with them or provide transportation, etc. Thanks for the reminder of what true friendship really is. Blessings to you, Lauen! I’m your neighbor at #TellHisStory.
Thank you Gayl!
Felicia Stout says
Thank you for sharing about friendship!
Linda Stoll says
Lauren, this right here –>’ friendship and service share a lot in common.’
They really go hand in hand don’t they … maybe you can have one without the other, but one surely can help the other to flourish.
Bless you …
I agree, Linda!
Sarah Geringer says
My friend time is precious! Wish we lived closer so we could hang out…
Me too, Sarah! Someday…
Tracey Rosenberger says
This is something I definitely needed to hear. thanks for encouraging me to be more intentional in seeking out friendships. I am a major introvert and I have trouble with this often.
Praying for you in this right now, Tracey.
So blessed and grateful for my friendships – the ones for a season and the ones that have withstood the test of time (and life)!
Great perspective, Jennifer.
Mary Geisen says
Time with friends is one of my favorite things. I treasure the time together but also know I need to intentionally choose to seek out this time. I love the idea of friendship looking like service. There is a lot of truth to that statement.
Thanks for joining the discussion, Mary.
When I was first out on my own and lonely, far from home, my mother would always tell me to go out and do some service. THing is , you think you will be blessing someone but you end up getting more blessed.
That is so true, Mandy.
Hi again Lauren! I wanted to let you know that your post is featured on this week’s Friday Fellowship Link Up. 🙂 Thank you for sharing and stop by to link up again!
Julie, I am so honored! Thank you so much!
Maree Dee says
I agree friendship is a treasure and one we have to pour into. I too recently had the experience of helping someone and finding a ton of laughter I needed in my life. Here I thought I was the one giving when I received much more than the time I gave away.
We both had friendship on the mind this week.
Maree Dee says
I’m not sure if my comment disappeared or will show up. Please feel free to delete one.
I am right there with you the older I get, the more I treasure my friendships. I too had an experience recently when I thought I was the one giving, but I received so much more. I laughed like haven’t in a very long time and walked away with a new friend.
We both had friendship on the mind this week.
It’s funny how God works that way isn’t it?
Your last example about helping a friend with a project, made me both giggle and ponder.. it’s true that not all acts of service (or acts of friendship) give us the warm fuzzies! But it doesn’t make it any less valid, or important.
I wonder.. if we always got the warm fuzzies after every unselfish act, if that wouldn’t lead us to seek the act out of selfishness in the end?!
You always touch my heart with your writing! Sure do appreciate you!
The question you pose reminds me of an old Friends episode where Joey and Phoebe argue over whether there really is a selfless good deed. Ha! Thanks for your kind words.
Pam Ecrement says
I so much enjoyed your review of the book we both read. Thanks for stopping by my site so I could savor your own reflections and thoughts. Blessings on your day!