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Posts Tagged ‘friends’

After many years of growing up in the traditional institutional church many things have changed over the past few years.

Of course, while in the religious system I was ‘set apart’ from the supposedly wrong kind of people. We had our friends within our particular brand of religion and tried to stay away from people who saw things differently.

We were told it was best to associate with like-minded people and fellow believers who agreed with our doctrines and interpretations, but beware of people who have different beliefs or who came from difference faiths or, worse yet, no faith at all.

After over fifty years in organized religion my wife and I came to a point where we felt it best to leave the system and follow a life with God outside of organized religion.

I would not tell anyone to do this or try to draw anyone out of church if that is where they are happy and satisfied. I personally believe the system is flawed and for those who choose to do so, it is better outside the walls than in. But that is a decision I would leave to each person to make under the guidance of the Holy Spirit.

I can say for us, after leaving we have been happy with the life we have found. We have freedom to follow the Spirit as he guides us. We rely on him rather than putting our faith and trust in a pastor or some spiritual leader. We have found more meaningful fellowship as God brings people into our lives to actually talk rather than sitting quietly in a service looking at the back of the head of the person in front of us.

After going through the process of leaving and starting to write on Done with Religion, I have had the opportunity to meet many new people from various walks of life, various faiths and religious beliefs. I have met many nice people that are LGBT and atheists as well and I am so glad to have done so.

Equals2

It seems to me being open to being friends with all people is so much better and interesting than feeling we are some kind of holy people who should stay away from others. It does not take long to realize that the labels that are placed on others do not completely described the person behind it.

Obviously, we are not going to agree on many subjects yet we can look past those differences and find many things we do share in common. We all want to have a meaningful, purposeful life. We all want love and friendship. We all want to get our bills paid, enjoy life and be happy. We all have causes and interests we want to promote and be successful at doing.

So rather than thinking you have to stand your ground on certain topics and separate yourself from others, look past those things and see the fellow human being in each person you meet. It seems much better to enjoy the friendships of all kinds of people in this life rather than let the differences separate us.

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I recently had a dream, one of those that was very clear and distinct, and one I didn’t forget as soon as I woke up. I was dreaming about my wife, and I can’t think of a better subject to dream about. We were out doing errands and after some time of walking around a store, she decided to go to the car and wait on me.

I kept walking around and ran into an old friend. We talked for several minutes, to the point I was getting worried that my wife would be wondering what happened to me. I finally moved on, then went to the car. Once outside, I could not find the car. I was wondering where my wife had gone. I kept thinking to myself, where are you?

Where are You

I saw another store close by, so went in thinking she was there. I walked around the store and a stranger unexpectedly stopped me and asked me a question. Shortly after that, I ran into another friend and we talked for what seemed like a long time. Again I began feeling nervous because my wife didn’t know where I was and I kept wondering where she had gone.

Once back outside I could still not find my wife or see our car. I was getting pretty nervous and kept wondering where my wife could be.

I finally got out my phone and called her. When she answered, I anxiously said where are you? She very quietly and calmly said, I’m right here.

As soon as she said that, I woke up. There she was laying right beside me, asleep, not having any idea what was going on inside my head. I just wanted to roll over and give her a big hug.

I got to thinking about why this dream seemed so clear and distinct. It certainly wasn’t anything profound, but I got to thinking about how we question God. We have unexpected distractions and events throughout our lives and we immediately ask God, where are you.

What hit me about this dream was it seemed God was saying that even when we wonder and question, even when we have the unexpected distractions, hardships and questions of life, He is right there ready to comfort us and encourage us by calmly saying, I’m right here.

Our Father told us that He is with us always, He would never leave us nor forsake us. He isn’t a God who is distant and can’t be found, He lives within us. We are His temple, or home, here on earth. He told us that He is with us always, even unto the end of the age.

Even when we feel like He is far away, when we question Him and wonder where He is and why He isn’t doing something, we can know that He is right there beside us. Even better than that, He is within us.

When you have those times of wondering where God is, look deep within yourself and listen for that still, small voice that says… I’m right here.

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We all want to have friends. Have you ever heard the phrase, to make a friend you have to be a friend? Obviously, everyone wants to be liked and have friends that are likeable and easy to be around.

Thing is, I think it is important to also be yourself. Not everyone is going to like you and want to be friends. I’ve seen people work so hard to change and be someone they normally aren’t, just to be friends with someone they think would be fun to be around.

My thought is if you have to change who you are, why do you need that kind of friend?

There is another thing that bothers me about friendship. Have you ever met someone for the first time and they just seem so friendly and interested in you? I have been through this several times. I would run into someone in the store or out for a walk, and they are smiling and so interested in getting to know a little about me. I get kind of anxious to get to know them and see if a new friendship was starting. Then, I get a call or an email and get asked if we could meet for coffee and talk a while.

After the second time this happened, I started realizing that so far, each time this has happened, it was someone with an ulterior motive.

They really were not interested in me; they were interested in what I could do for them. Basically, they were selling something and looking for new people to join in under them doing the same thing.

I tell you, this was so disappointing each time it happened. I was thinking, wow, what a nice person. I would like to get to know them and get to be friends. Then, wham, the rug was pulled out from under me by finding out they only wanted to make a sell or add me to their sales network.

True friends are hard to find. Even among people who aren’t selling and do not have ulterior motives, it’s hard to find a true friend.

Most of the friends we have are friends as long as we have the same interests, or involved in the same activities, go to the same places or work together, but outside of that, we usually don’t see each other or talk.

True friends love us and accept us as just as we are. They aren’t waiting until we change and become more like them. They are actually interested in us. They want to see us succeed. They feel comfortable telling us things that aren’t popular or what we want to hear when they know we are getting into something that isn’t good for us.

A true friend will be there for you even when we are miles apart, or when we have different interests and activities. A true friend is one of the hardest things to find in this world.

Now as followers of Christ, we have the best and most true friend possible in Jesus. But let’s be real, we need a flesh and blood person right in front of us to discuss things, do things together, encourage and support each other, and cry with one another.

Jesus will never leave us, he will never forsake us. He is closer than a brother and the best friend we will ever have in life. Yet, in this life we need human friends. And those human friends, if you think about it, are almost like having Jesus right in front of you. Since we are now the temple of the Spirit, God living in us, we in a sense are Jesus to each other. Now I’m not saying we are God, but His Spirit lives within us and we can love and accept each other through that common truth more than anything.

So for those shallow people who are only looking for someone to use and get things from, I would rather not even start a friendship. We still love everyone through Christ, but we don’t have to be friends with everyone. Pray for the guidance of the Spirit to lead you to those God has to be true friends in your life, and see Christ in the brother and sisters he brings along.

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