Lately I have been thinking a good deal about what makes my healthy and thriving friendships different from those that cause anxiety and tension. Pastor Joe (Celebration Church, see blogs I follow list) reminded us of the parable of the ten virgins going out to wait for the bridegroom in Matthew 25 and it really struck a chord on this thought process.
The Parable of the Ten Virgins
1"At that time the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. 2Five of them were foolish and five were wise. 3The foolish ones took their lamps but did not take any oil with them. 4The wise, however, took oil in jars along with their lamps. 5The bridegroom was a long time in coming, and they all became drowsy and fell asleep.
6"At midnight the cry rang out: 'Here's the bridegroom! Come out to meet him!'
7"Then all the virgins woke up and trimmed their lamps. 8The foolish ones said to the wise, 'Give us some of your oil; our lamps are going out.'
9" 'No,' they replied, 'there may not be enough for both us and you. Instead, go to those who sell oil and buy some for yourselves.'
10"But while they were on their way to buy the oil, the bridegroom arrived. The virgins who were ready went in with him to the wedding banquet. And the door was shut.
11"Later the others also came. 'Sir! Sir!' they said. 'Open the door for us!'
12"But he replied, 'I tell you the truth, I don't know you.'
13"Therefore keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour.
The five wise virgins did not give away their oil, but guarded it and protected it so that their light would not go out. Proverbs 4:23 says:
Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.
But these are not easy things to do - we are supposed to be kind to everyone and available to everyone all day long - just a phone call, text, email, facebook message, tweet, etc away.
The thing that separates the healthy friendships from unhealthy is that my healthy friendships do not try to draw from my stores of oil - they guard and protect their own oil. It is safe, we bask in one another's light, we motivate one another to shine brighter and longer while awaiting our King, but we do not try to dip into one another's stores. Unhealthy friendships are taking what I have already decided in my heart to give, the areas where my cup runneth over, and have demanded more and more. They are never satisfied, constantly wanting more, demanding more of me until I am frustrated and all burnt out.
It occured to me that healthy friendships are not aggressive and rarely violate one another's boundaries except for the very rare moments when one needs to be pulled back from the brink, but even then, healthy friends yank them back, point them to Jesus, and become accountabilty partners - not the source. Healthy friendships do not steal from one another, but just bask in the overflow of one another, and they flow back and forth. We must protect our oil, our hearts, our wellspring from attack in some ways, and I find it challenging at times to manage this balance - it seems that I am always floating a little to far one way or the other. We must also learn to accept gifts freely given, and learn to discern those given with strings attached so that we may have wisdom to keep from bondage. Again, an area of revelation in my life, but still an area that I need help bringing to fruition.
Just a few more thoughts to marinate over...
Good night dear hearts...I wish you Godly discernment and the wisdom to know what to do with it.