I’ve heard it said that “joy shared is multiplied, sorrow shared is divided.” How true I have found this statement to be! We all need someone; friends to share our joys and to help us carry our burdens. Not only are these friendships and relationships needed and should be encouraged but it is also a Biblical principle that is taught but seldom practiced.
I have been on both sides of the sharing fence and benefitted from the connections that I have experienced. When you are in the burden share yard, often you feel isolated but also afraid that people will tire of your tears. The times I have had the privilege of standing on the listening side, and have embraced the emotional intimacy of someone’s confidence, it has greatly increased my own faith. So many times we answer “Fine” to that tired old question: “How are you?” just as an automated response. No, we’re not fine, but we don’t have an hour to discuss the following questions that arise from saying “not fine”. Other times we just don’t want to break down. We’re tired of hurting. We’re tired of the struggle and if we have to answer one more question, we might just scream.
Will they really care? Will they shun me? If they know the “real me”, will they continue to include me? Sadly, these days, those are legitimate questions. We have lived to see the day where people are too busy, too involved in their own lives or problems to care. We don’t have time for the cultivation that emotional intimacy requires. We reach out, but when the “reaching back” doesn’t happen, many times we just give up. Even when asking for prayer, many times we feel looked down on or judged as if we aren’t spiritual enough, close to God enough, “something-enough” or we wouldn’t be facing the dilemmas that we are going through.
Sometimes we just need someone to call us up and say, “Hey! Why don’t you go with me to town and we’ll grab a bite, shop a little and get a pedicure!” In our faith journey, whether we are newbies or old hats, close friendships with other Christian women renews our inspiration, builds our faith, gives us strength, makes us laugh, helps us as we raise our children, or helps us “back off” and let our adult children make their own decisions, gives us courage as we become grandparents, fight for our marriages, affirms us and a myriad of other great benefits. We can’t afford NOT to have these types of relationships. But how do we begin?
Joneal Kirby, PhD is the founder of “Heartfelt Ministries” and she has written a book as a guide for women to create meaningful friendships. It’s like both a manual as well as a source of inspiration to help you build and experience the biblical mandate of multigenerational relationships. Galatians 6:10 tells us to be connected within the body of Christ: “Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers. We are mandated to “do good” and to take care of each other and to minister to one another’s needs. When we are open and honest about our weaknesses with each other, it creates an atmosphere of both learning powerful lessons as well as lending strength as we walk through these experiences.
Titus 2:3-5 plainly states how we are to give and receive encouragement, be a shoulder to cry on, pray for and with, be a blessing as well as to grow personally and in relationships to one another in a multigenerational aspect. Ms Kirby gives advice, models the ministry, and tells countless stories from real-life women. If you’ve ever thought about beginning something like this in a small group setting, your home, or church, you will have a wonderful head start by reading this book.