Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Friends are Forever

So for any one who does not know, my favorite set of verses from the bible are Ecclesiastes chapter 4 verses 9 through 12. 

"Two are better than one, because they have good reward for their labor. For if they fall one will lift up his companion. But woe to him who is alone when he falls, for he has no one to help him up. Again, if two lie down together they will keep warm; But how can one keep warm alone? Though one may be overpowered by another, two can withstand him. And a threefold cord is not quickly broken." New King James Version

This has been my favorite verse pretty much since the summer i accepted God into my life. I read it, and all of Ecclesiastes so often that those pages have quite literally fallen out of my bible. As i have grown i have also been able to find more and more depth to this passage. 

It first struck home with me because i did not feel like i had any friendships that could meet the standards of those words. While i had good and reliable friends, i did not feel as though i had a bond with them to the extent of always being there to help each other up or keep warm. this passage was the exact idea of the friendship i yearned to have with someone else. anyone else.

i had my first conversation about this passage with a very dear friend of mine, Ron, who i would consider family any day of the year now. he showed me this deeper meaning to the passage i already loved. he said that friendship is depicted as the Threefold Cord that can not be easily broken; I was one of the cords, my friend (which ever friend...we were talking in very general terms) was another of the three strand cord, and those two cords are woven together by the third cord which is representative of God. God creates this bond and braids the different strings together and includes Himself in the friendship that is being built. i really liked this depiction of friendship and that concept has stayed very strongly with me. 

since then i have analyzed my friendships and compared this verse to them which sometimes can lead to great disappointment, but mostly leads to comfort and joy. i also analyze the verses more and more.

Two are better than one, because they have good reward for their labor...

to me this does not mean they have great reward for labor as in physical labor or jobs that they perform. because really, people can do jobs on their own and still be 'rewarded' or paid. to me the word labor in this context means the labor put into the friendship. friendships are not easy. in fact at some points they are dang near impossible. but when two people set a common goal to put forth a valiant effort to love, support and care for each other they are committing to enduring the labor that it will take for the friendship to be successful beyond just friendly hellos, but to the point of keeping warm together and lifting each other up when they fall. 

For if they fall one will lift up his companion....

this one seems like a little less effort to unpack. one falls down and the other lifts them up. but if you look carefully it does say if THEY fall, not if one falls. so the picture that comes to my mind is a little like this... these two people are hiking and they both stubble and fall. they both struggle to get up, but one succeeds first. this one perhaps succeeds because they were physically stronger to begin with or maybe they were less injured. or maybe it is because they know the other person NEEDS them to be able to get up. no where does it say that one ever falls alone though. when one friend falls, the other falls as well. the other feels the pain that the first feels and he overcomes it so he can help his friend up. but neither falls alone. the other is there falling with him.

But woe to him who is alone when he falls, for he has no one to help him up...

this person, the one who has not built a relationship with anyone that is woven together by God, he falls alone. no one feels his pain because no one has that love for him that God does. this may be because this person shut everyone out or maybe it is because everyone shut him out. either way, he does not have that friend to be strong for him. to fall with him and then lift him up as he stumbles. this is not to say that God has left him alone because everywhere in the bible says that God does not leave or forsake anyone. but perhaps we should look at ourselves when this happens. when we see someone fall and no one can help them up. maybe it is a failure on our part to love them as God loves them.

Again, if two lie down together they will keep warm...

no, this does not mean sex...from what i see it refers to the fact that body heat helps keep warm. and for two friends to lie down together to keep warm shows their comfort and love for each other. they can lie together and know that it does not have to be awkward. it is just what you do to be warm. and they both love each other to want to lie together and benefit from each others warmth as they let the other person benefit from their warmth as well. 

But how can one keep warm alone?...

same concept as before. this person is left cold and shivering and has no one willing to be comfortable and secure enough to provide that warmth that they naturally posses. it is sad...

 Though one may be overpowered by another, two can withstand him...

there is power in numbers. this has some strong psychological support as well. if one person stands alone they may be more easily manipulated by others, but if they have someone sharing their stance it becomes much easier for them to hold their ground. they can be less influenced by negatives around them and a positive influence on each other. with two people there is also more physical strength than there is with one person and that never hurts lol. i do my best to stand up for my friends even when i know they are wrong. everyone needs someone in their corner. this doesn't mean i do not call them out when they are wrong, but i try not to do so in front of other people so that said friend is not "overpowered" by two people against them.

And a threefold cord is not quickly broken...

i went into this part earlier. the three strands are You, Friend and God braided together to become strong and lasting. a support system that withstands way more pressure than any one person could do on their own. a threefold cord can not be snapped or destroyed under pressure.

I know have many friends that i feel like i could apply these verses to. i try to keep this passage in mind as i develop friendship, though often i fail to love people as God does. in fact, this blog is a little bit to call myself out on that. i do what i can and when i cant, i learn. 

i really appreciate the friends i have in my life that have held me when i am cold and helped me up when i have fallen. i even more appreciate when you guys allow me to keep you warm and lift you up as well. we are in it together and i will be strong for you when you are weak as you have been and continue to be for me. there is nothing more important in this life than love, and the love i feel from my friends is incredible and irreplaceable. there are so many cords braided together in my life that i do not see how it could be possible for me to ever be alone, even if i tried. people love and support me too much for that to happen. you have no idea what that means to me. i won't ever take that for granted.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

My Safe Place

So recently i have been working on this self-help-esk book for anxiety. anyone who knows me knows i get anxious especially at this point in the semester when everything is due and finals are starting to creep up in the back of our poor college brains. 
in this book there is a series of questions that help you define what makes you feel "safe"
and i just about died when this book told me to close my eyes and get to my "safe place"

really??? do they really use terms like that? is that suppose to make you feel not-crazy?
yep, that is my exact reaction to almost anything out of my box. 
but i figured what the heck, i obviously got the book because i was out of my own ideas so i might as well try these other silly ideas. make up this fictional so called safe place that doesn't exist in this world. a place you could only dream up. 

this is what i came up with...

i like cool weather with a brisk breeze. that kind that if you had a light jacket you might put it on, but it wasn't cold enough to walk back inside to get one.
the places i feel most comfortable are outdoorsy places where the only noises you hear are ones nature was making long before people were on this planet. sunning water, chirping birds and maybe the occasional scurrying of a raccoon or something. 
i like being around trees that look like they grow into the sky high enough to not be able to see where they stop. especially in the autumn when the leaves are yellow and red, some on the ground and others barely hanging onto the tree for just a couple more days. i would want a tint and some fishing  poles. and probably a butt ton of roman noodles because i know i would throw all the fish i caught back. but just a sleeping bag and tint to sleep in. the bare necessities. (and of course i always have perfect hair in my safe place. priorities people).
i would want this safe place to be a hike away from the real world. no high-ways or even cars allowed at all. maybe just a river that runs into a pond with a big rock that sticks up in the middle of the pond for me to sit on. 
surrounded my the smell of trees, morning due and pollen. with the crunching of those fall leaves under my bare feet. deer to feed and fish to swim with. 

that is my safe place.

i closed my eyes this morning and let that place be the place i was in. i put my mind in that place. i just sat in bed a stayed in that place. 

yep. God proves me wrong again. this place i thought did not exist...it really does. it does not because i can see it or you can see it but because i say it does. and because i can go there and you can go there with me. (my safe place is always welcome for company, but you get hugs in my safe place so be warned). it's real not because it is a place that can be driven to or a destination to be reached. its real because it is what peace is. at least that is what peace is for me. that is how peace look, feels, sounds and smells. it's a place that God has given me that i can go to no matter what state i am in or how busy i am. it is just there. waiting for me to decide that's where i want to be. 

so, i do agree that everything i just said sounds silly and ridiculous. i really do. but that peace was overwhelming in me throughout this day so far. so i don't care if its silly. because it makes me feel good. i know i probably wont always go there when i should, but i will try. and when i forget, maybe i will look back on this and remember that God made a safe place for me and He made it inside of me.