by Angela Royse Pelleman
What do you do if you’ve been invited to a friend’s home, and she starts doing chores? It can be an awkward predicament: Do you pull out your phone and catch up on emails and phone calls? Do you grab a shirt and help her fold clothes? Should you cut your visit short, so she can get things done? We all understand that bubbling soup needs to be lowered to a simmer, and brownies need to come out of the oven. What if we throw the fresh laundered clothing onto our bed, fluffing it out to be folded later, and instead reach for two happy mugs that clink together? Can 30 minutes be set aside, to enjoy conversing over steaming chai tea with milk, while little ones play nearby with favorite toys?
These are busy times. Most of us try to take advantage of every spare minute available. We send text messages while in line at the grocery store. We read emails while we wait at the doctor’s office. We make calls on our cell phone, as our home phone rings and then leaves us a message in the background. At least that’s how it is in my life. I recently had a friend tell me that she hadn’t called me in a while, because she could see from social media that my family was very busy with medical appointments. I told her that while it’s true we have a full calendar, God has graciously given us precious pieces of time to spend with friends. We immediately set up a play date for our daughters, and spent two hours doing nothing but talking and laughing, while enjoying two bottles each, of cold Perrier, along with non-stop conversation.
In my younger years, I didn’t understand why Jesus had corrected Martha when she complained to him that Mary wasn’t helping her in the kitchen. Didn’t he realize how stressed out she was with all these disciples coming to dinner? Her sister was sitting at the feet of Jesus, listening to his words. Martha even went so far as to ask Jesus if he cared that she was doing all the work alone! That didn’t sound fair! I was surprised at his reply, “ ’Martha, Martha,’ the Lord answered, ‘you are worried about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken from her’ ” (Luke 10:41-42 NIV).
Of course! Nothing compares to sitting at the feet of Jesus and listening to his words of wisdom. The top chef’s most expensive menu item at the most prestigious five-star restaurant, will not taste better, nor fill us up more, than the words of God. What if we take this lesson and apply it to our friendships? We can carve out some time to spend with a friend, choosing to give her priority over our chores. It seems by following this example, and treating others the way Jesus wanted to be treated when he was a visitor, that this will be pleasing to him. During this sweet fellowship, we can take the opportunity to ask our friend about her life, how things are going. What are her struggles, and what has given her joy lately? We can also share our own trials, so our friend knows she is not alone. She can relax, knowing that our lives aren’t perfect either, and that she isn’t the only one with a messy house! We show compassion by listening, and others can see Jesus in us, when we make time for them. We can be encouragers just by taking the time to talk about what God is doing in our lives.
Sometimes friends may stay longer than planned, or a neighbor will drop by unannounced. There will also be people in our lives who need to be given boundaries. These are other situations that can be given to God. For now, my hope is to encourage you to make that call to the new girl at church, or that friend who is struggling and has been on your heart lately. Wouldn’t it be fun to catch up with an old treasured friend you haven’t really talked to in a while? If you can’t find time, pray. God will provide it. Leave the laundry when she comes over. Giggling with her will bring you more joy than folding a pile of towels.
Last summer, I had planned an entire day to clean my house; it was the only day available for the whole week. At the last minute, my friend, Wendy, invited me to go on a girls’ day out with our daughters. I had so much to do! She told me that the messy house would always be there, but there was a beautiful sunny day waiting for us to explore the old town of Frederick, Maryland. My daughter and I went, and we were so glad we did! There were antiques, paintings, bottles of old-fashioned soda pop, ballerina stores, sandwiches and coffee, sweets, conversation, laughter, and hugs. I was so grateful that she encouraged me to go.
“And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another–and all the more as you see the Day approaching” (Heb. 10:24-25). Don’t give up on getting together with that friend who has been on your heart. Set some time aside, just for her. You’ll both be glad you did!
© 2014 Angela Royse Pelleman – The Silver Lining