This is Part 2 in a series on my journey through Colossians this summer. I read this book over and over and over with fresh eyes, and Holy Spirit took me all kinds of places. Maybe the lessons He taught me will help you, too. You can catch up with the first post here: God and Designer Clothes Part 1
Coming quietly into the classroom to volunteer for the morning, I looked around with great interest at the adorable 1st graders seated on the floor in front of their teacher. Their bright little faces were full of delight and self-confidence as they discussed the story they had just read together. Hands were raised and answers enthusiastically given in sweet little voices.
I was struck by the potential and eagerness and curiosity contained in those little bodies dressed in T-shirts and Velcro tennis shoes, some with slightly runny noses.
They were a group where everyone was accepted, where no one had decided or been told by someone else that they weren’t bright enough or athletic enough or liked enough or pretty enough. They worked with whoever was nearby and no one seemed to be left out.
But I knew it wouldn’t last.
Fast forward a few weeks, and I witnessed a little episode of exclusion, not by the students, but by the mommas of little girls. Groups were being rounded up to take photos of friends towards the end of the school year. It was all in good spirit and I’m sure no one intended to hurt a sweet child, but as an observer, I saw little girls outside the circles, watching the giggling photography sessions, longing to be asked by someone to join a group.
No one did.
I’ve been that little girl outside the circle, so I know what that feels like. I bet you have , too.
Heck. I’ve been the grown-up woman outside the circle. And it hurts almost as much when you should know better than to let it. Know what I’m talking about?
Negotiating friendships is not something we are born knowing how to do. In fact, we seems more likely we are born knowing how to be mean to one another, how to make sure we or our children are not the ones left out. Even if we have to step on someone’s feelings to make it happen.
We were created for relationships, but since the fall, our ability to interact with one another has been damaged and our interactions won’t be what God intended on this side of Glory. Although this is the case, I’m so very thankful for the many wonderful friendship gifts God has given to me. I think they are little glimpses of heaven.
God is so generous!
The book of Colossians has shown me that as believers and followers of Christ, we never have to feel secluded, because we never will be. Not in the ways that really matter.
My worth can’t be tied to the whims of other flawed humans, who are so prone to lift up someone just so they can tear them down with their next breath.
Knowing this as a fact, I still have a hard time getting those words from my head to my heart. I still want to be surrounded by friends, to be invited, to be included.
Friendships in this world, though a blessing and a common grace from God that we all can experience, are never meant to meet all our relationship needs. They will always fall short. We are all looking for a friend that is really rooting for us in all areas of our lives, who will never betray us, leave us out, or gossip about us.
In other words, a perfect person.
Those words sound amazingly similar to the description of the outfit I am supposed to be wearing as a Christian, and the verses that started me on this study of Colossians.
“So, chosen by God for this new life of love, dress in the wardrobe God picked out for you: compassion, kindness, humility, quiet strength, discipline. Be even-tempered, content with second place, quick to forgive an offense. Forgive as quickly and completely as the Master forgave you. And regardless of what else you put on, wear love. It’s your basic, all-purpose garment. Never be without it.” Col. 3: 12-13 MSG
This begs the question, “What kind of friend am I?”
And I have to admit, sometimes I’m not a very good one. As a Christ follower, I should be the best friend anyone could want and the church should be the place everyone could go to find the love of “soul” friends.
We should be showing the rest of the world HOW to be friends, shouldn’t we?
In the first chapter of Colossians, I learned more about Paul’s best friend and the one God intends to be mine. This may sound cliché, but that friend is Jesus.
Paul’s description of Jesus in Colossians 1: 15-20 will knock your socks off. Grab your Bible and read what Paul has to say, and then watch this video to see how Priscilla Shirer describes Jesus.
Why would you resist a relationship with HIM? Why would I?
In many ways, grown Christian women are no different from those innocent little first grade girls. We are all in “school” learning how to be friends with one another. Christian mommas and Grammies and aunts and role models, we must learn from our friend, Jesus, how to treat one another and then teach our children and grandchildren.
The world is watching us.