“Friendships, like gutters, need to flow.”
No, that’s not C.S. Lewis. Or even Chip Gaines. It’s a little wisdom nugget from this guy:
Ever since he started reading this blog, Bobby has been hinting that I might want to write about him. I don’t normally take this sort of request, but in addition to having the world’s cleanest gutters (a status he attributes to his patent-worthy gutter cleaning invention), Bobby has about 10 zillion friends, so I figured that maybe he knows something worth knowing.
And as it turns out, he actually does.
“Stuff needs to flow through gutters for them to work,” Bobby maintains. “And friendships need flow as well. Communication, vulnerability, time, laughter, shared pain, shared experiences, wisdom, insight…all of these things need to be a dynamic part of our connections if we want our friendships to flourish.”
I like that. And if you’ve been around this blog for awhile, you know that friendship is a topic I love (even when I’m feeling friendless, like I was in this post):
Over the years, we’ve talked about how friendship is what college kids really need (click here for some ways we can pray good friends into their lives), and we’ve looked at why it’s important to have people who will speak truth to us, even when doing so is awkward or hard (because it’s not, as this post explains, always a great idea to just “follow your heart”).
And longtime readers may remember when we dabbled in science, drawing encouragement from research–and yes, they did actually do this to people–that proves you feel better, when you get shocked, if somebody is holding your hand. (That post came with a free printable featuring nine “friendship” prayer cards.)
Clearly, I like to write about friendship.
But getting back to the main point of this blog. Which again, Bobby thinks should be Bobby.
Bobby is part of a group of friends Robbie and I try to connect with, in person, at least once a year.
We ask each other hard questions. What are you doing to invest in your marriage? Where have you struggled at work? How might God want to use you, and your gifts, in the next season of life? What are you doing to grow closer to Him?
We laugh. We try not to make too much fun of each other, but sometimes (like when one of us breaks out an “invention” that he built all by himself and wants to know if anybody is willing to fund it) we can’t help it.
And we pray. We pray for our jobs, our kids, our marriages, and our own stubborn hearts, asking God to work on the places where we’ve strayed or grown hard, and to remind us that (even still) He calls us Beloved.
If you’re reading this post and you think, “I wish I had friends like that,” can I just tell you one thing? You probably do. Ask God to show you who might be open to deeper connections, and then reach out to one or two folks. That’s what happened with our group. As one of us made the pivot from raising her children to the Empty Nest years, she wanted people who would walk alongside her in the new season. She put out some feelers (“Who wants to be friends?”), and the rest of us jumped on board.
And if you’re reading and thinking, “I love my friends!”, let them know! There’s a reason the Bible is so full of exhortations like 1 Thessalonians 5:11; God knows that good things happen when we “encourage one another and build each other up.” Take a moment today to make a phone call, send a text, or write a note (and then remember to mail it) to let a friend know they are loved.
Genuine friendships–like free-flowing gutters–rarely “just happen.” Like Bobby said, they take commitment. Transparency. And a willingness to overlook offenses (because even small stuff can sometimes clog up the tube).
And, of course, prayer always helps.
The Bible is bursting with good things we can pray for our friends–and these are the very blessings God longs to provide! Click on any of the earlier posts to download some prayers, or join me today in borrowing from Isaiah 61, and use one or two of these verses to lift up those you hold dear.
When _____ is brokenhearted or in need of comfort, clothe them with a garment of praise instead of despair. (v. 1-3)
Grow _____ into a strong oak of righteousness, and may their lives display your splendor. (v. 3)
Replace _____’s shame or disgrace with an inheritance of everlasting joy. (v. 7)
May all who see _____ acknowledge that they are a people the Lord has blessed. (v. 9)
(And yes, Bobby. I did put your whole family right there in verse 9.)