I remember sitting in the smelly middle school gym like it was yesterday. I'd survived the awkward and much dreaded moments of changing into my PE uniform in the girls' locker room. And now I sat on the hard bleachers listening to the squeak of tennis shoes, the uneven cadence of bouncing balls, the teacher's sharp sounding whistle, and the girls laughing behind me.
They weren't laughing with me. That would have meant I was accepted and wanted and invited in to be a part of their group.
No, they were laughing at me. This meant I was not accepted, not wanted, and not invited in to be a part of their group.
I was the subject of their gossip. I was the punch line of their jokes.
And it hurt.
I imagine you know that hurt too. Change the scenery and the people and this same hurt can be found in most of our lives.
When your coworkers all make plans to go out to lunch but somehow your name was left off the email chain.
When that other preschool mom said, "Several of us moms are concerned with how your child seems so aggressive on the playground."
When everyone else's social media makes marriage look dreamy and uber-romantic as you're crying yourself to sleep at night feeling like the loneliest married woman alive.
Then a friend steps in with a gentle smile and a few simple words of encouragement and suddenly, you're not alone.
I want to be that friend for you today.
In the midst of whatever it is that's made your heart feel a bit knocked off-kilter, can I whisper what I believe are the five best things one can say to a friend?
These aren't incredibly profound but oh so needed. You know what I mean?
And if we need to hear these simple kind words, then might we dare to believe someone near us needs to hear them as well? I think a lot of us girls are terribly lonely.
So, imagine what good these words could do. Loving someone else is one of the most God-honoring things we can do today. After all, we're reminded in Scripture that all the commandments can be summed up and fulfilled if we will love others (Romans 13: 8-10).
I came up with this list of 5 best things to say to a friend from Romans 12: 12-13 in a section appropriately titled, "Love."
1. "You're wonderful."
(Romans 12:12, "Be joyful in hope...")
What a loving thing it would be to infuse joyful hope into your friend's life by reminding her of ways you think she is wonderful.
The world is quick to tell us girls of all the many ways we fall short. We are hyperaware of our faults and frailties.
So, what a precious gift to remind a friend of specific ways you notice that she's a wonderful friend, a wonderful mom, a wonderful Jesus girl, a wonderful wife, a wonderful coworker, a wonderful person.
2. "Me too."
(Romans 12:12, "...Patient in affliction...")
What a gift it is to remind our friend that we all have afflictions, hurts, faults, and tender places. We all get sick both emotionally and physically.
The patient friend is one who freely gives grace because she so desperately needs it herself. "Me too" acknowledges that I'm no better than you but together we can get stronger. It is such a loving and disarming admission that we're all in this together.
3. "I'll pray."
(Romans 12:12, "...Faithful in prayer."
Wouldn't it be wonderful to express to a friend that you will absolutely be faithful in your prayers for her? I have a friend that prays for me so faithfully. She texts me Scriptures that she prays over my life.
But here's what I really love about her. She doesn't just pray about my situations. She prays me through them. She's willing to circle my circumstances over and over with her prayers.
I honestly don't know how she hasn't gotten tired of praying for some of my same issues for so long. I get so tired of me... but she never does. What a gift. A gift I know I must pass on by being faithful in my prayers for others.
4. "I'll share."
(Romans 12:13, "Share with God's people in need...")
When we notice a need in a friend's life, might we be willing to step in and at least be a small part of the solution?
I have a friend who literally lost every possession she owned due to a chemical spill in her home. So, we threw her a "Job (like the man in the Bible) Party." Each of us brought a few things to help her family start over.
We didn't even come close to fully meeting their financial needs. But we helped build a foundation of restoration and gave this family the assurance that God was working on their behalf.
5. "Come over."
(Romans 12:13, "Practice hospitality.")
Throwing open our front door to welcome a friend inside the sacred space of our home is such a needed gesture. There's just something about relationships that are less pixilated where we get eye-to-eye, voice-to-voice... and talk. Really talk.
Over broken bread we share broken hearts. And then we celebrate the parts of us that are still intact. We reach across the table and across our differences to grab hold of the glorious bond of friendship.
Yes, these are 5 great things, maybe even the best things to say to a friend. Yes?
So, today, I pause and say them to you. Now, I haven't quite figured out how to do that last one. It would be such a hoot trying to fit you all in my kitchen, but I sure am dreaming about it. What a crazy fun time we'd have.
My only request is that you bring one of those awful pictures from middle school you keep hidden away in the back of your closet. Then we can laugh and bond and wonder together why we ever thought it was okay to do our hair that way.