Women aren’t hungry for perfection, they’re hungry for connection. -Lisa-Jo Baker, “We Saved You a Seat”
Adopt the same attitude as that of Christ Jesus. -Philippians 2:5
And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” -Matthew 37-39
I’m happy to share a fall study that I’ve had the privilege and time to be a part of this season. It’s been hard with a little one to find the time to get out and meet with a group of women, so I’m grateful to have this opportunity once again.
In Lisa- Jo Baker’s study, “We Saved You a Seat”, she demonstrates through Jesus’ life what being a friend and having authentic friendships is really like- heartaches, joys, and all.
As human beings, we’re wired for genuine, authentic relationships that take time, effort, action, and forgiveness. As Lisa-Jo Baker emphasizes- friendships take work.
I think making genuine friends can be difficult at times because relationships are messy. Bringing someone into our lives means that at some point that person is probably going to hurt us- hopefully unintentionally.
With those difficult situations that come with any relationship, it’s easy to hold a grudge, pretend like nothing happened, or avoid a friend that hurt us, altogether. But genuine relationships are relationships that are founded on love. With love comes putting in the effort and the action to restore the friendship.
I like Lisa Jo-Baker’s quote in the book about forgiveness. She says, “Forgiveness in friendship does not require condoning some offensive act, forgetting what happened, or reconciling with the perpetrator. It means finding a way to free oneself from the claws of obsession about the hurt. Forgiveness is making peace with the past so that there is opportunity for relationship in the future. Not necessarily with the same people who’ve scarred us. But sometimes, by the grace of Christ, forgiveness is exactly that powerful to restore broken relationships to fresh health and offer the same people a completely different way of relating to one another.” (122)
Wisely-enough, I think many of people have had to let go of a friend or will have to let go at some point. In my experience, it wasn’t wise or healthy for me to maintain a friendship where unhealthy choices were continuously made by the other individual and there was a lack of respect towards me. This is a person who I have genuinely forgiven and care about, but it’s not smart for me to continue to be friends with this person after multiple attempts at restoring the friendship and multiple failures due to the behavior not changing.
Yes, it hurts to let go, but I know that from this failed friendship, I’ve learned what I really want in authentic friendships. And I am more confident about approaching someone who has hurt me.
This study has also encouraged me to be less defensive and a better listener when a friend or loved one approaches me about a hurt or wrong that I have done to them. I’m not always the best at this, but I pray that with Jesus’ example, I can grow in this area of my life to be a more loving friend.
There is far more that’s unpacked in this study. I’m looking forward to meeting with my group in these final weeks to finish up. And I’m also looking forward to the next time where I can review and re-read this study as a blessed reminder of what friendship really looks like.
In the end, I think the big message I’ve taken away from this study is that authentic friendships take work and action. Good friends aren’t just going to fall into our laps. It’s up to us to schedule time for connection- activities, meet-ups, and phone calls in order to find and maintain real friends.
With any friendship, there are going to be ups and downs. But through Jesus’ example, Lisa-Jo Baker shows us that the benefit of giving ourselves to others far outweighs staying in our busy-circles of small conversations and inauthentic community.
I think this is a message that every woman needs to be reminded of because friendships are hard. We get hurt, but we also gain the most when we put ourselves out there and give more of ourselves in the relationship.
Baker, Lisa-Jo. We Saved You a Seat. Lifeway Press, 2017.
“We Saved You a Seat”. Lifeway Women. YouTube. 13 Mar. 2017, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5DJxfYqHSqM.