Thursday, December 5, 2013

White Fat Albert: Friendships

Since this last year I have lost 55lbs. You could have called me the white Fat Albert. Here is a picture of me from Thanksgiving 2012 and a picture from Thanksgiving 2013.

I have had numerous people ask me how I did it. I changed my lifestyle with diet, working out and being accountable. For me the biggest thing was being accountable! There have been many, many times I have tried to eat right and exercise by myself and never succeeded. This past spring I started working out with a buddy in the mornings. We used an app where we shared our calorie intake, exercise routine and weight progression. Knowing that someone was following up, motivated me.

I am a relational person and have a heart for people to build relationships. Working out with other people motivated me. I think as a whole we don’t like the word “Accountable” or “Accountability.” But in my mind all “Accountability” is, is an open/honest relationship with someone or a group who will speak truth and encouragement into your life, not just the things you always want to hear.  Too many times we undervalued the importance of those relationships - whether it is with our spouse or our closest friends.  

I can look back through my life and see the importance of friends. My best friend in high school was instrumental in my becoming a Christian. He invited me to a church where I would eventually meet my wife. He was the best man in my wedding and we meet for breakfast quite a bit. I looked forward to those times.

I have a best friend from college who is just a spiritual rock! I was the best man in his wedding and I am amazed at what God is doing in his life. We don’t talk that much other then a few times a year, but when we do, we don’t miss a beat.

There is a family in Ohio who accepted this southern boy as one of their own. I have never met any people more open to God’s will in their lives as I have this family. They are truly like my brother and sister. We talk often and get to see each other about once a year.

My Pastor/friend /mentor/boss has a huge impact on me and speaks so much into my life. I am lucky to get to work with someone with whom I can have a relationship like that.

My wife, who is my best friend, can put up with so much. She is definitely a Proverbs 31: 25 Woman (She is clothed with strength and dignity, and she laughs without fear of the future.) Plus she is an awesome mom.

I point all of these out because the Bible has a lot to say about friendships and we see many examples: David & Jonathan (1 Samuel 18); Ruth & Naomi (Ruth 1); Elijah & Elisha (2 Kings 2:2); Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach & Abednego (Daniel 2); Jesus, Mary, Martha & Lazarus (Luke 10:38); Paul, Priscilla & Aquila (Romans 16:3-4).

Here are some scripture to give us direction with evaluating our friendships:

The godly give good advice to their friends; the wicked lead them astray.  Proverbs 12:26

A friend is always loyal, and a brother is born to help in time of need. Proverbs 17:17

There are “friends” who destroy each other, but a real friend sticks closer than a brother. Proverbs 20:6

Many will say they are loyal friends, but who can find one who is truly reliable? Proverbs 20:6

Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed. If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble. Likewise, two people lying close together can keep each other warm. But how can one be warm alone? A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken. Ecclesiastes 4:9-12

The heartfelt counsel of a friend is as sweet as perfume and incense. Proverbs 27:9

As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend.  Proverbs 27:17

Value your friendships. Maybe there are some friends who need to be just acquaintances because they either bring too much drama, don’t value the truth, or they are not loyal.  They will make you duller instead of sharpening you.

You need some tension in order to have open and honest conversation. It makes you smell better (Proverbs 27:9) and makes you sharper (Proverbs 27:17). Iron doesn’t get sharper without the friction of the stone. Here is the thing about friendships. It never means there will be no conflict or disagreements. It opens up the pursuit to find the truth.

If you are lonely, maybe start being a friend first by applying the above scriptures to your life. Understand that our ultimate and best friend is God because He has given us so much before we even accepted His friendship. Start with that relationship first and see what wonderful people He will bring into your life.