Christen Limbaugh Bloom: The secret to becoming a better friend

We all have a friend (or a few) with whom we’ve fallen out of touch. It stings a little to think about them because we feel guilty – we should have called more. We could have tried harder. “You’re only human!” people tell us when we admit feelings of guilt. But it still doesn’t sit well with us.

I believe we easily lose connection with friends because sometimes we put unrealistic expectations on ourselves. For example, when I moved from Texas to New York after college, I tried to schedule calls with several of my girlfriends on a regular basis so we could have deep dive conversations about every aspect of our lives and how they were changing. That lasted all of one month.

The pressure to have deeply meaningful conversations every time we talked ended up hindering growth in our friendships because I resorted to postponing our phone calls so that when we DID talk it could be a long, weighty discussion. Then life happened, the calls were never made and I barely talked to these friends at all. A big part of our lost connections was the guilt I felt about the amount of time that had already passed since I had last spoken to them.

CHRISTEN LIMBAUGH BLOOM: WE SHOULD ASK GOD FOR MORE

I knew I wasn’t the only one who had this type of experience, but I felt I could do better. What I had to learn, and what I’m still learning, is that “better” doesn’t always resemble what I have in mind.

Jesus taught a lot about friendship during His earthly ministry not just through His words, but by His actions. He was constantly giving grace to His friends – the disciples – even when they REALLY failed Him. Peter denied Him three times the night He was crucified, and Jesus not only forgave him, but took special care to make sure Peter realized he was fully forgiven in John 21, when Jesus encouraged Peter saying, “Follow me!”  Almost everyone who calls themselves a Christian knows this story, but I think a lot of people fail to realize Jesus offers us this same level of grace in our personal friendships with Him. And we can model our other friendships based on our relationship with Him.

Throughout my walk with Jesus, I’ve had moments when I’ve experienced the same guilt I felt with earthly friends who I knew I should catch up with more often. The days of avoiding Him turned to weeks and months and before I knew it, every time I spoke to Him I spent the entire time apologizing for not having spoken to Him in so long.

It wasn’t until I comprehended the power of Jesus’s love that our relationship truly started to flourish. The pressure to impress was replaced with a genuine appreciation and craving for more time with Him.

But the time I spend with Jesus doesn’t always look the same. There are days when I set aside a full hour to sit and read His word, and there are other days when I fail to carve out that time and I’m left with simply saying a silent “Hey” to Him at my desk or on my commute to work. And I’ve learned that sometimes it’s OK to just say “hey.”

Jesus just wants to hear from us. He wants us to recognize His presence and the value He has in our lives. And keeping a conversation going won’t always look perfect because we ARE human. We are imperfect and therefore our friendships are imperfect. But reminding ourselves of God’s grace allows us to give ourselves grace.

Grace gives us encouragement when we feel trapped by feelings of anxiety and regret in our friendships. It allows us to step out in love and give our best effort even when we know that effort might not be perfect. Because sometimes it’s better just to send a simple “miss you” to let someone know you care than to wait for the opportune time to have that “perfect” catch-up session.

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We all become better people and better companions when we make sure to stay connected to Jesus. When that relationship thrives, all others do as well.

“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” (John 15:5)

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