iron sharpens iron: walking with God and others
I'm so excited to kick off a new theme called Alive! Our overarching question to think about is:
What makes us feel alive, and how can we feel alive more often?
I truly believe God invites us to enjoy life and wants us not to merely exist, but to feel alive! Lifeless days can turn into lifeless weeks, and even into months, but who wants to live like that? Not me. I have a feeling you don't either.
Alive moments can happen anywhere! I've felt alive on a date with Kyle, at the gym, on a hike, during quiet time in solitude, at concerts, at coffee with friends and so on. We all have people, places and activities that light us up. As I've reflected on the idea of feeling alive, I've realized who we come alive with is really, really important to feeling alive more often.
Going on a walk with someone is one of the most energizing and life giving activities to me. I cherish walks with my mom, husband and close friends. Here is a picture of one of my favorite Nashville walking paths! Good old McCabe Greenway!
I've realized the following about walks with friends:
Walks are more fun with friends.
Friends keep me on the right path.
Friends help redirect me if I take the wrong path.
Friends help me up if I stumble. (I'm really clumsy sometimes.)
I grow because of the connection.
I feel joy.
I don't go on walks with people I don't like.
Walks with friends, to me, look a lot like walking through life with God.
I love how the Bible correlates our life on earth to a walk with him. God wants to walk with us because he wants to be with us. Not only does he love us, but he LIKES us! When we walk through life with him, we are walking with a bold leader, helper and friend who guides our steps. He gives each and every step a purpose. He longs for us to track with him, and in turn, we grow spiritually because of the connection.
Our friends, or who we surround ourselves with and walk with, are also important to God. The best friendship advice I've been given is to walk with people who are going the same direction in life I want to go. Who we walk with matters because our friends have the power to encourage our steps or encourage our stumbles. So, how do we find the right walking buddies?
A verse that has stuck with me through adulthood is Proverbs 27:17:
As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.
I've learned over time, there is immeasurable value in nurturing relationships that sharpen you. If you're going to spend your time walking with people, these are the ones you want to walk with: friends who love you unconditionally, challenge and encourage you to do your best, provide support and accept you for you. These friends renew your spirit. They will cheer you on as you succeed and hug you when you need to ugly cry. Ultimately, our "iron sharpens iron" friends seek Christ in their own lives, and in turn, they help us become more like him in ours.
Your "iron sharpens iron" friends may not look exactly like you, and I think that's awesome. Diverse friendships shape us and help us become more accepting and well-rounded. I've learned more life lessons than I can count from people who look nothing like me.
Walking with the right people can truly lead you to feel more alive. Authentic, accepting friendships breed joy!
When I moved to Nashville about four years ago, I knew a grand total of zero people. I had no friends. I'm an extrovert, so having zero friends was a problem! I remember getting on my knees in my one bedroom, 500 sq. ft. apartment, asking God to place friends in my path. A small part of me felt pathetic. I remember thinking, who has to ask God for friends? I am so lame. In those moments, I felt God speak to my heart and say, "Mandy, I am the first person you should come to about any kind of relationship. I created them all."
God for the win again. I wanted "iron sharpens iron" friends. By his grace, I've met and connected with people who were and are an answer to that prayer. He can answer that prayer for you too.
If you're in a season of seeking connection, don't be afraid to ask God to place people in your path who can join you in your walk. Isolation is not something you have to live in, and it definitely doesn't breed joy. Don't fall into the trap of thinking you are not going to find friends, or you aren't worthy of friendship. God loves you and wants companionship for you no matter how young or old you are. Life is more fun with friends, and God wants you to have fun! He wants you to feel alive!
Now, don't forget - you can't sit in your basement and play video games, watch HGTV all day, or Keeping up with the Kardashians on repeat and expect God to magically send you "iron sharpens iron" friends. As tiring as it may be, meeting people means you have to go out and meet people, but I know you're smart enough to figure that one out. Don't be afraid to put yourself out there. Some of my most enriching, joyful and alive moments have happened with friends. You never know if you don't try!
As we pursue being our authentic, true selves, while asking God to send us kind, loving, "iron sharpens iron" friends, our lives start to open up to what true companionship looks like in our walks. I encourage you to let down your walls and allow yourself to be fully exposed and fully loved by God and others. That, to me, feels a lot like moving past merely existing to truly feeling alive.
Love you guys - have a great week!
Who are your walking buddies and why?
Is there someone in your close circle who is slowing down your walk? In other words, are your friends going the same direction in life you want to go?
Weather permitting, ask someone on a walk this week!