Braids of Friendship

Today completes the first week in Peak313 Fitness’s Living & Active Challenge and I completed it in full! That includes 4 workouts of at least 25 minutes (running on Tuesday, gym on Thursday, 30 Day Shred on Saturday, and running/walking today) and memorizing Ecclesiastes 4:12:

Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.

Yep, got that too 🙂

What was most fun about it was that I only did one workout by myself. The others were with friends (and dear Sisters), who motivated me much more than had I been on my own. We have good accountability going and I really want to keep this up for longer than the 5 weeks the challenge goes for.

And while it was great to have such support from some of my closest girlfriends in regards to health & fitness; even greater is the fellowship (koinonia, if you will) that we share in Christ. The verse was really a perfect fit and not just for establishing the accountability of this challenge, but also for realizing the blessing of it’s meaning.

It started on Monday (as many working weeks do). I read the challenge and devotional. I well knew that I am much stronger with help from the people God has blessed me with in this life. I was even having a “down day” and thought to myself, “Kellie, you’ve just read how much better it is to rely on others, to pull from their strength when you are weak by yourself. You are about to make a rather unhealthy choice (aka junk food for dinner). Perhaps you should call up a Sister, talk it through, and make a better choice.” Did I?

Nope.

We all have instances when we ignore the very good & solid advice given to us by the Holy Spirit. And then we have to suffer the consequences. Man did I feel horrible the following morning.

And that was something seemingly little. I do (and am happy to admit) reach out to others when things seem crazy & out of control. When I seem crazy & out of control. With a fellow believer in Christ, I am able to reason things out, talk things through, and really focus on how God would have me respond in certain situations. And that is exactly the point.

We were not made to live this life alone.

Did you get that?

We were not made to live this life alone.

Imagine if you had to navigate this life as a new believer with no mentor or fellow believer by your side. While it would not be impossible (for you would have the Living God inside you), it might get lonely. And let’s be honest, how often do you turn to a fellow believer who then guides you to God’s Word, instead of just going there in the first place? I’ve done it more times than I could count. And there’s something to be said for that human relationship. God gets that, because get this – He created us. Not only that but He spent 33 years living as one of us.

As we share parts of ourselves with fellow believers, and they with us, our lives become intertwined. This is where the koinonia comes in. That is the Greek word that is most often translated into the word fellowship in the Bible; being with those who are like-minded, sharing with them, being accountable to them, and loving them with the love of Christ.

When we do these things we form bonds that are not easily severed. With Christ as our center, the one thing we all have in common, the strands of our lives wrap around each other. One strand can be quickly broken, overpowered. Two strands might take a bit longer. Three or more stands and you have yourself the beginning of a rope that is strong when tugged upon and won’t fray quickly.

I experienced that a lot, but the verse this week really put it into perspective. Whether I am struggling with healthy choices of food, frustration at work, hopelessness in relationships (or lack thereof), or trying to figure out just exactly what God is doing (though we are never quite sure with that one), I know God has blessed me with numerous friends I can turn to. They never fail to share with me His wisdom, help me find what is says in His Word, or pray for me to be in His will for my life.

Could I do it without them? It sure would be hard. Would I want to? Most definitely not. I thank God for them often, though probably not as often as I should. I cannot count the times they have talked me down from ledges (figuratively, of course), helped pick me up out of pits, and walked beside me on this narrow road. Thank you to you all – I have no doubt you know who you are.

Do you have more than two friends who are believers? More than 10? Image how strong that rope is! Think of that the next time you feel stuck and don’t know where to turn. God has placed these people in your life to help you through the hard times so you will not be overpowered. A thick rope can bear so much more weight than a skinny one. And with it evenly distributed, not much weight is felt at all.

Here is to the blessing of friendships from God! May you be able to call upon them when you need them, and be there when one is in need. And, of course, Week 2 of the Living & Active Challenge!

Love & Blessings,

KJ

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An Answered Prayer

I have a horrible habit of hitting the snooze button in the morning. It’s become such a habit that there are mornings when I don’t even know I’ve been doing it until it’s 45 minutes past the time my alarm was set for (snooze only works up to 25 minutes past) and I have 30 minutes, or less, to get ready for work. Needless to say, this morning was a snooze morning (though I spent some of that time in bed thinking about taking the day off). In the end, I got up and started getting ready for work. As I did so, though, I just had this feeling of dread and just wanted the day to be over as soon as possible.

This is one of those things that happens for a few days, about once a month (thank you, Eve). My brain doesn’t think properly and my emotions run more rampant than usual (if you know me, you will understand). A time when I think of a year or so ago when a friend of mine reminded me that we are commanded to bear one another’s burdens in love.

Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. Galatians 6:2

And the law of Christ that Paul is referring to? You should find this at least somewhat familiar:

36 “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” 37 And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 38 This is the great and first commandment. 39 And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. 40 On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.” Matthew 22:36-40

I will admit, I do not have too much of a problem when it comes to helping someone “carry their burden.” God has graciously given me a heart that longs to help and wants to feel needed. However; when it comes to asking someone to help me bear a burden, there are times I’d rather not. There are times when I am prideful and don’t want anyone else to know I can’t do something on my own (can we say sin?). There are times when I worry that I will just be slighted and will be no better off having asked for help (ummm, sin). And then there are the times when I want to wallow in my despair and hide away from everyone, even God (you got it, sin. Plus, that last part…not possible).

The discussion with my friend focused on the aspect that in order for others to share in bearing our burdens, we must first tell them what burdens we might be carrying. She also helped me see it from a different point of view; see if you can follow. When we are able to bless someone by helping them out it makes us feel good, right? We feel needed and are happy we were able to help, yes? How would you feel if your friend was going through a rough time, knew you could help, but never told you? Not so good, huh? And that’s exactly the point – when we do not ask for help with our burdens, we take away someone’s opportunity to be a blessing. So, in essence, when we keep to ourselves, we’re being selfish (you guessed it, sin).

So, for the past year or so, since I had that conversation, I’ve been working on this; telling others of my burdens so they can help bear them. And to their credit (but probably, mostly God’s), none of them have said, “Oh, no. Here comes Kellie. I wonder what’s wrong today?” (at least not to my face 🙂 ).

Today was a day I needed to do that; I needed to share. I drove to work feeling numb, despite the praise music flooding my speakers. I felt a weight bearing down on me and, even though it had hardly begun, I couldn’t wait for the day to end. I battled between asking for help and trying to pray, but my ind just wouldn’t stay focused. Though I had slept a little late I actually got to work a few minutes early. I knew what I had to do; I had to ask for help. I texted a friend, a dear Sister, asking for prayer. Before I even walked through the library doors I got a simple response, “Starting now.” I admit, my spirit lifted, just the slightest, knowing she was petitioning for me.

I headed in and started my day. Maybe 15 minutes after that, God answered her prayer in a very obvious fashion. A dear Brother, who just happened to be in the area, dropped in for a visit. He said he drove by the library and thought, “Kellie’s probably working. I should at least see if she is since I’m here.” We chatted and my mood did a 180, and I knew, as soon as I saw him, that it was the Lord’s provision that He sent to get me through my day. No words can really describe how I felt in that moment, how I feel now writing it all out, except to say that God is so good and I am so thankful that He uses His people to pass along His blessings.

If I had any doubt (or if you do) about sharing burdens in the future, it was driven away by the facebook status of Paul David Tripp that I saw when I got home from work today: “If you’re God’s child you must remind yourself today that your walk with God is designed to be a community project from beginning to end.” If you need further proof, how’s this?

I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call— one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. But grace was given to each one of us according to the measure of Christ’s gift. Ephesians 4:1-7

I pray we all will have the courage to share our burdens and also bless others by lending a hand to theirs as well. We are Family and it is what we are called to do.

Love & Blessings,

KJ