As children, friendship was everything, wasn't it? Our whole world seemed to revolve around who our friends were.
In elementary school, our friends were our classmates. They were the ones that we played at recess with, the ones that we sat with in the cafeteria. They were the ones that you could have fun with, invited to sleepovers. We vowed to be friends forever with the exchange of a friendship bracelet/necklace. As we grew into teenagers, our friendships evolved but they were still every bit as important. For many of us, our circles grew. We had friends from school, friends from extracurricular activities, maybe even friends from work. They were no longer simply friends because we were in the same class, but because we had common interests, or because we just clicked. These were people we not only could have fun with, but whom we could talk to and trust. When I look back on my high school days, I remember less about my classes than the people that I spent my days with. And then we grow up, and once again those friendships change. People move away and suddenly we don't have that common place to hold us together, many friendships we thought would last forever, simply fade into the background.
As a socially anxious person, friendships have never been easy for me. I've always relied on the more social people around me to take that first step. In school, this worked well for me, but then I graduated and moved across the country where I knew no one. I was a brand new wife and soon a brand new mom. I needed friends then more than ever, but I was very much alone. In time, I did make friends- fellow special needs moms of the children in my son's class. What a different experience it was then, to have someone to talk to, someone who got it... both what it took to raise a special needs child, AND to do so alone much of the time while our husbands were deployed. I loved this circle of friends that we had built... but as with all things in the military, it would soon once again change. One by one, we found ourselves being uprooted and spread throughout the country. Once again, I found myself in a brand new town having to start all over. Almost five years later, and it's still an ongoing struggle for me.
Some might think that as an introvert, it's not a big deal. And perhaps there is some truth that I need less 'people time' than most, but I'm still human and those connections are part of who we are. Even the Bible speaks highly on the value of friendships. Take a look at some of these verses:
Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up! Again, if two lie together, they keep warm, but how can one keep warm alone? And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him—a threefold cord is not quickly broken.
Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.
Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another.
1 Thessalonians 5:11
Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.
A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.
When we read verses such as these, is it any wonder that we crave those friendships? As we grow older, life doesn't become less complicated. We need advice, we need encouragement, we need to know that we're not alone in this... but how- in our busy schedules- can we make and strengthen those relationships? What is the secret to make connections? I must admit, I don't have the answers...I need them myself... but the new book from (in)courage can help:
We all long for meaningful relationships, the Colossians 3:14 kind that fulfill our desire for unity and connection with God, our friends, and our community. But where do we start? The (in)courage community invites you to grab a cup of coffee, pull a chair up to the table, and commit to creatively and prayerfully fulfilling your cravings for connection. Craving Connection is a journey with (in)courage writers sharing real-life stories, practical Scripture application, and connection challenges that will encourage you to: (1) embrace the desire God has given each of us for connection, (2) invest in meaningful relationships, right where God has you, and (3) become the friend you wish you had.
I have been a fan of (in)courage for many years and the thing that I loved most about it was it truly did feel like a community. When I need to feel uplifted, I know that I can find those words of comfort and encouragement there always. Isn't that what WE should be in our relationships too? A place that others can turn to to lift them up and not tear them down. If ever there was a perfect group to write such a book, (in)courage definitely fits. (You can read more about their relationship to Dayspring here.)
Every year I find myself thinking that THIS is the year. This is the year I am going to put myself out there, this is the year that I am going to make friends and grow those relationships. And every year, I fall short. I have the best of intentions and I truly WANT those relationships, but I just don't know where to begin. While I have not finished reading through the book, already I feel like it is giving me that jump start I need to work on the relationships in my life- starting with the most important one- our relationship with God. If you are like me and need that extra help, this is one book that you are going to want to pick up. Read it on your own, or with your groups.
To better help celebrate and encourage these relationships, Dayspring also has a variety of products to go with the book. Take a look at just some of these great products:
Wear-One-Share-One Necklaces. We loved friendship necklaces when we were kids, so why should we stop enjoying them now!? Rather than those half hearts we were used to then, every necklace set features one word - Hope, Brave, Believe, Loved, Grace or Peace. These words can serve as a reminder to ourselves and our friend just how important and loved we are, and that we are not in this together. Not to mention, they're gorgeous too!
Encouragement Postcard Book. I must admit, some days I dread going to the mailbox. I know when I go out there all I'm going to find is bills, bills and more bills. But every once in awhile, I'll find a sweet surprise from one of the ladies in my happy mail group. Oh what a joy that can bring! Something as simple as a postcard with an encouraging word can make such a difference. It says I thought of you, and you are loved. This book features 20 unique postcards that truly are perfect to send that little bit of love to your friends, wherever they may be.
I am loving these gorgeous products, perfect for giving and I am loving this wonderful book. More than anything, I am loving the inspiration to work on the friendships in my life. Throughout this year, I look forward to taking on the challenges brought forth in the book and using the products to truly make this the year that I WILL make new connections.
You can find all of these wonderful products, the book and more now at Dayspring.
And for a limited time, you will receive a FREE mug with your book purchase! Don't miss out!
Do friendships come easy to you? What products from this collection do you like best? How can they help you strengthen and grow your relationships?