This chapter tries to draw a distinction between meetings that are regimented and gatherings that allow people to be together in ways that allow relationships to flourish. Where have you found the best environment to get to know people and to share your spiritual journeys together? Look at some of our most treasured friendships today and think about how you met them and what helped your relationship with them grow to what you enjoy today.
That’s easy… the workplace.
People may come here with labels… but you don’t see them much. The only label that matters is “co-worker”.
Once in a while, there might be someone promoting their pedestal. But for the most part, the conversations come up and flow freely without the confines of religious borders.
I spend more time with my co-workers than with my family…so much so that my workplace has become my “family”. Most people at work don’t know my religious baggage and that’s a good thing!!!
Ruby from Calmar Alberta, Canada
Like Ruby stated, I find it easy to have conversations with people from work…
I also have a certain friend, and we both learned about God’s love at the same time, and we left the same IC at the same time. The bond we have is different then any other friendship I have ever had. When you fellowship with others that know God’s love or are on the journey to get to know it, the whole relationship is different and it seems like it is a gigantic amount better than any other friendship.
It’s interesting, but most of the closest relationships I have began with a deliberate spiritual emphasis…a neighborhood Bible study, a children’s ministry team, a Marriage Encounter weekend. Out of the small group settings, like-minded friendships were formed that have traversed years of life experiences. Every time we have been together, our focus on life events and circumstances always has, at its heart, our faith in Jesus.
The relationships grew because of honesty, trust, and vulnerability. Each of these friendships (I am counting three of them right now) continue to grow, even though two of these friends have moved to different states. There is some kind of “kindred spirit” with these friends.
To me, regimented meetings of any kind seem to only be potential conduits to something much greater—relationships. I cannot tell you how many times I have talked to friends who go to church weekly and yet only see the outside images of the other attendees–and let’s face it, everyone looks pretty much together, right? It isn’t until we allow ourselves intimacy—taking walks, having coffee, going out to eat, getting together to talk–that we allow ourselves the pleasure of being real and sharing the journey we have been on with Jesus. I have grown a great deal from other relationships (beyond my closest three) simply by spending time with people as the Holy Spirit leads–and being honest.
I find the best environment is a grace environment - wherever you find it. Some Christians just have more of a heart understanding of grace than others. I have one Christian friend who I feel I can say anything to and not be judged or told what is needed to fix me. I wish I had more friends like that.
I, like Ruby and MrM find the workplace to be where I have the best relational times, outside my own family that is. There are a few that I have spiritual conversations with but they are limited.
However I can not say that I am yet sharing my spiritual journey as such with others that are around me or crossing my path regularly . I long for that and I have little doubt it will come to pass that I will get up one day and I have a phone full of numbers and it is my hope that a few of those will be close.
I have to say that reading through this chapter it placed so many things I wonder about in a much clearer picture. I have always thought church should be like a family gathering where there is no agenda or obligation to be anything other than a person on a journey to know God better.
I feel so blessed. I say that not in a trite catch-phrase kind of way. I feel like God has really blessed me so very much with relationships with others who love Him madly, or who at least are seeking Him earnestly.
My sister-in-law longs to know and love Him and we are good friends. We do not live close, but when we are together God is just interwoven through what we do, and we have many good conversations that way.
I met two of my dear friends through my kids 4-H group. One was a leader of a horse club (Wendy), and the other was simply a recommendation by the 4-H coordinator that I get in touch with a friend of hers (Rachel) who she thought I would enjoy getting to know because we were new to the community at the time. I just called
Rachel up out of the blue, and although our mutual friend is not a faith-filled person, she was right that we would enjoy each other! Ha ha ha! She and her family have become wonderful friends of our family.
Another is actually my violin teacher (Marilyn) and we share what we are learning from the Lord together sometimes in the chit-chat after lessons. She’s the only violin teacher within an hour’s drive, so … that was God.
And sometimes I have had briefer relationships just full of the love of the Lord - on a weekend planning retreat, for example, we met several other couples who obviously just love the Lord, and that was such a great bond!
I just run into people - I used to get farm produce from a recovering addict who is seeking Him with all her heart. A lady at our IC started a prayer time before service, and those who showed up (just a couple of us) really do love Him tremendously, and the times we share in prayer and encouraging each other are wonderful! It’s been great. I know many people struggle to find others who love Him, and I feel frustration that I can’t, for example, share that part of my relationship freely with some of the people who are very close to me.
I guess looking at it objectively, God has simply placed these people in my life, and perhaps it is my passion for Him and talking about Him to people that allows people with quieter faith to feel comfortable inviting Christ out into the open?! Who knows!