friends

The Four Friends: A Lesson in Compassion

I read in the book of Mark today a very familiar story. It’s the one about the paralytic who had some pretty amazing friends. Jesus was speaking to a crowd so large that there wasn’t even room to enter through the front door. No elbow room here. The man could not get in to see Jesus because he was physically unable to move his own body. That was the first challenge. The second problem came in the form of a crowded room. He had friends, though. Friends who knew his deep need, knew that Jesus could help him, and cared so profoundly for him that they had to get him to Jesus.

When the front door didn’t work, they resorted to the roof. They “removed the roof above where He was. And when they had broken through, they lowered the mat on which the paralytic was lying”. These friends had some unshakeable faith and some serious tenacity. They literally would not take “no” for an answer when it came to getting their friend to Jesus.

Big Faith

As I read this encounter this morning, I was struck by the following verse: “Seeing their faith, Jesus told the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven.'”  This is followed by words directed at the Pharisees in response to their questioning whether or not Jesus had any right to forgive sins. Leave it to the Pharisees to have an argument while a man comes through the roof! Jesus then heals the man.

Let’s go back to the faith part. The faith of the friends.I think these four friends are pretty spectacular. They gave up their day and physically worked hard to get their friend to Jesus. Even though seeing Jesus was impossible, they found a way. I get the impression that these friends knew the paralytic very well. Perhaps they had watched him live with this disability and had felt his pain with him.

Bring Them To Jesus

I want to be like them. I want to be the type of friend who has lived with the needs of others and loves them so deeply that, no matter the obstacles, I’m bringing them to Jesus, especially, when they have no strength to do so on their own. When my friends are strapped for faith, I want to carry the load. I want to know them so well, that I actually know when they are in need.

Are They Really “My People”?

Can I be this for the people I so enthusiastically call “my people”? Am I willing to inconvenience myself for the benefit of a friend or a neighbor? Am I willing to be inconvenienced for the sake of my friends’ spiritual, physical, or emotional well-being? I may not tear a physical roof off a building or lower them down on a mat but can my friends count on my prayers of faith to hold them up when they are too weak to pray for themselves? Can they count on that text message of encouragement or the card in the mail that lifts their spirits? Can they rely on that meal or offer to babysit when they are too overwhelmed to know which way is up? Do my actions reflect those of the 4 friends? Or do I spend my time, like the pharisees, focused on the law instead of on active compassion.

I want to be like the four friends. I really do.

Jesus,

Help me to live like the 4 friends lived. I want to live with sacrificial love as the banner of my heart. Help me to see beyond the every day inconvenience to the eternal impact of a simple text message or unexpected meal or card in the mail. May I find myself on my knees more than using my fingers to tap, tap the “I’ll pray for you” comments on Facebook.  May I truly know my neighbors and my friends to the point of knowing their needs and desires. Help me to walk with them through their most paralyzing days and rejoice with them in the miraculous days that follow. And when my faith waivers, may I be so richly blessed to benefit from the love, faith and strength of those carrying my mat and ripping off roofs to get me to Jesus. And like the man in the story, whether it’s my miracle or the miracle of a friend, may You be glorified.

Patty

Your social life looked a lot different before kids. Before kids, a night at the movies was no problem. Stay out late? No big deal. Having kids brings the spontaneity and late nights to a screeching halt. Slowing down, however, doesn’t mean you have to say goodbye to friends and hanging out.It’s just looks a little different. Here are 5 Ways to Maintain a Social Life After Kids

Social Life: How to Have One After Baby

Your social life looked a lot different before kids. Before kids, a night at the movies was no problem. Stay out late? No big deal. Having kids brings the spontaneity and late nights to a screeching halt. And if they don’t stop, someone is paying for it. My husband and I learned the hard way. We tried to continue our work, volunteer, and social life at the same break-neck speed as before kids only to crash and burn. Our children were cranky, they were missing naps, they weren’t really on a schedule at all, and were acting out and whining all the time. We had to learn to slow down, say “no” more often, and create boundaries.  Slowing down, however, doesn’t mean you have to say goodbye to friends and hanging out. It’s just looks a little different.

Here are 5 Ways to Maintain a Social Life After Kids

# 1 Invite friends over after your kids are in bed

I recall early in our marriage (before kids were on the radar) having game nights with a couple in the neighborhood. They had an adorable 6 month old little girl. They would put her to bed and then we would play games late into the night. It was so much fun and it never really occurred to me that the location of our game playing was more out of convenience for this couple than anything. Now we are the ones inviting people over after our kids are in bed for game nights. We also started having friends over to watch movies. Our friends don’t seem to mind coming our way and we are able to have adult conversations and interactions without the interruptions of little ones.

# 2 Invite friends into your family time

I’ve mentioned that many of our friends are like family or framily so we are learning to invite our friends right in to the chaos. They become honorary uncles and aunts to our kids and we treasure the time with our friends and delight in seeing them interact with our brood. We’ve even invited friends to join us at Chuck E Cheese. Now that’s friendship right there, folks. Friends with no kids who willingly give up their Friday night to spend time with you and your kids and a mouse.

# 3 Playdates

One of the gifts and challenges of having kids is that when you’re raising littles your friends are often raising littles as well. Inviting them over after kids are in bed can be tricky. Find kid friendly environments in which to hang out. Enclosed playlands are golden. As you know, we spend way too much time at Chickfila but it’s a great place to feed the kids food you know they will eat (because the struggle is real) and then send them off to play while the moms catch up. Library storytimes and playgrounds are also great. I do want to mention that these are not the kind of social interactions where you pour your heart out to your BFF. This is a scattered social time. Diapers, pottytraining, dripping noses and runaway toddlers can make your time spent together very choppy and misaligned. It is still worth it, however, to get a few minutes with another human being who gets you. The time spent with someone who has been and always will be your friend is a treasure. Even if kids have changed the way it looks.

#4 Girls Night Out

It is so important to have that kid-free time with your friends especially if your friends are in the same stage of life as you: knee high in baby wipes and Doc McStuffins episodes. This one is probably the easiest in theory to practice. Dad stays home while you hang out with the girls. Something always seems to happen, though. The baby gets sick. You have a really crummy day. Dad gets home late from work. You didn’t get a shower. Please don’t let the unexpected chaos of the day keep you from having time with friends. It makes you a better mom and wife. Dad can handle a sick baby. Call your friends and update them on your delayed arrival and get that shower in. I’m an introvert. It’s hard for me to get time with friends simply because of my inward tendencies. It’s ten times harder with kids but I know I need it and try to make it happen. So from an introvert, please take time for you away from your kids to get out and be with your friends. 

#5 Invest in Babysitters

Friendship is important and this is one area where a babysitter here and there is worth the investment. About once or twice a year, our LifeGroup takes advantage of our church’s Parents’ Night Out and we eat out as couples. Our kids are well taken care of and we can enjoy each others company without the interruptions of little ones. We’ve also met up for a meal together near the Thanksgiving Holiday . Once kids came along, we started getting sitters so we could have time without the kids. Your friendships are worth it. You are worth it. Get a sitter and enjoy your friends. 

Kids and Friends, Friends and Kids

Kids make life interesting and they put a lot of things on hold but friendship should not be one of those things. You just have to learn to work the social life around the needs of little ones who need naps and require consistent bedtime routines*. And your friends? They are gracious and understand a lot better than you’d expect.

Your Turn! How have you found ways to keep your friendships strong while surviving the kid chaos? What challenges keep your friendships at bay? Comment below with your advice and challenges!

You can read the Introduction here: Bringing Home Baby, Again

You can read last week’s post here: Romance: How to Keep it Alive

Next Week!

The addition of children affects the way you take care of your body. It affects your body. Join me as we explore how to regain our bodies and find the grace to wear our birthing scars with pride. 

*I want to note that my kids still have meltdowns. We still push their limits at times because we need and crave time with other adults and that’s okay!