Developing Strong Friendships

By niNe. magazine speaker: Alicia Hayes

Developing Strong RelationshipsHopefully you’re enjoying your summer! There’s so much to do and your friends are probably along for the ride. Friendship is a beautiful blessing that‘s often taken for granted. Friendships strengthen and develop with time and intention. As you hang out with your friends this summer, here are some ways to intentionally strengthen your friendship:

Awareness

You may not be the greatest at bonding. Your friends slip your mind easily but this doesn’t mean you don’t love them. To break this pattern, you need to be aware of your tendencies in friendships. You don’t want to unintentionally isolate a friend because you accidentally took them for granted. A little can go a long way in terms of showing your friends that they mean a lot to you. It could be as simple as checking in on how their summer reading is going, or sending them a snapchat of something that reminded you of that person or tagging them in a #ThrowbackThursday photo. Everyone has different communication styles, but strong friendships look outside themselves. A good friend will be understanding if you’re not great at responding, but return the favor by showing your friends that they’re still valued.

Common ground

Think of a friend, any friend. What moment did you first “click” and realized you were friends? Was it over common ground? Chances are, the answer to this question is “yes”. The importance of common ground doesn’t dwindle as you maintain a friendship. While it’s incredibly important to show investment in your friend’s interest that you may not share; common ground helps maintain a relationship. You don’t have to agree on everything or share all the same interests, but knowing how you two connect is very important. Some of these connections are more serious than others. For instance, one of my close friends, Mimi, and I have a few things in common. Two of the things we have bonded over the strongest is our love of comedy, and that we both lost our father at age 14. Mimi and I are different people and we have different opinions on comedy and we had different experiences in grief, but we still have that common ground.

Levels

Friendships have different stages and levels of closeness. I am not going to share the same things with someone I have just started hanging out with as I do with my best friend Grace. That’s normal and appropriate. Understanding where you are with your friends helps you not undervalue your relationship as well as move along at an appropriate pace.

My junior year of college I was the stage manager for a musical, and the people involved became some of my closest friends. One bonding moment I had was during a rehearsal where the director asked me to change out the old tabs in her script with new ones. I was very focused, as I gave the tabs to my assistant stage manager to throw away and I placed the new ones in the binder. It was a bigger job than I expected and it was stressing me out because I had other things to do. I turned to my assistant stage manager to ask her something and I saw that she had placed all the stickers on her face. She dryly stated, “I’m Simba” and I lost it laughing. It was a sporadic moment for sure, but it still involved her being aware that I was stressed, common ground of the musical and it brought us to a new level in our friendship.

Bonding sometimes comes naturally, other times with intention, and sometimes both. We would love to hear your bonding stories! Tweet to us @9Ministry so we can share your encouragement with others!

Family

The Rend Collective's As Family We Go Album CoverThe Rend Collective’s (niNe. magazine’s July/August cover feature) new album We Are Family really sparked some incredible thoughts about the role family plays in our everyday lives. We may not think about our family as being all that important – often we see them as more annoying rather than valuable – but if we analyze at our lives, we’ll see how family is very significant. Our family is always present (we see them in the morning, we come home to them in the afternoon, we even go on vacation with them). Our family impacts our character and personality. We establish our cute, and sometimes obnoxious, quirks because of our family dynamics. Our traditions are unique to our family. Our faith in the Lord is greatly influenced by family members. We wouldn’t even be walking this earth if it weren’t for our parents.

God made us to be united with family. He intended for us to connect with one another through a DNA resemblance. He expects us to grow close to these people because we face similar situations, struggles and heritage.

If we look at an overview of the Bible, we’ll see several stories about one family or another. The Old Testament is documentation about the travails of a single family who was fathered by our patriarch Abraham. The New Testament is the record of a man (Jesus) who was fathered by brave and forgiving parents, he communed with individuals who became his figurative family and he died for his beloved brothers and sisters. We read of royal families, poor families, couples who (through a miracle of God) begin a family. There are so many dynamics in all the Biblical families, but at the root of every family is love and building trust in the Lord.

Whether you embrace your family whole-heartedly, or can’t wait for the day you leave your family and head off to college – they’re still your flesh and blood. My prayer is that you will recognize their significance in your life and your significance in the life of your family. If your family doesn’t yet acknowledge the Lord as the center of your unit, then we join you in prayer. We believe that every family will learn to trust the Lord, and we’re excited to pray that God will give you strength and courage to lead family members to His gracious love.

If It’s In the Bible, It’s Important

We always read the scripture of the Greatest Commandment and just focus on the words of Jesus, but we tend not to focus on why Jesus needed to proclaim what qualifies the greatest of all the Commandments. Matthew 22:34-36 says, ‘Hearing that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, the Pharisees got together. One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question: “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” ’ Jesus needed to declare that the first and greatest commandment is to love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind because the Pharisee questioned the relevance of God’s commands.

Melinda Laging Standing Against Wall wearing a suitGod doesn’t issue unnecessary commands. His edicts are all applicable as well as worthy of our attention and obedience. Everything written in the Bible is necessary, because if it weren’t important, then God wouldn’t have said it. If He spoke it into the written Word, then it should be taken seriously.

On the contrary, if it’s not in the Bible then it’s probably unimportant. God wouldn’t declare statues and concepts that weren’t valuable to Him. It would be a waste of His breath and certainly ours! The Bible is a significant book full of useful information. It’s not easy to soak it all in, but if God knew we couldn’t handle that much information, He wouldn’t have made His instructions so vast. He desires for us to seek out His truth. God wants us to live a life pursuing what is beneficial for us.

It’s important to look at what the Bible says as well as what it means. The meaning will grow and develop as our faith strengthens and matures. But, the words have stayed the same throughout the ages. It’s helpful to find a translation that speaks to you, but it’s also healthy to look to a variety of translations to fully grasp God’s elaborate proclamations. As your faith increases, look into the original text of scripture. Seek out the meaning of the Greek or Hebrew word that led to the translation you read.

God must have been particular on what He wanted us to know about Him, His world, His people, His past, His character, etc. Therefore, we don’t need to question the material of the Bible. However, we do get to study His word, seek how it applies to our lives, follow its direction, obey its guidance and grow from what we learn. We can also expect to be challenged, inspired, awed and amazed by God’s wonderful and glorious Word.

The Word is valuable and important – all of it, from beginning to end! Don’t overlook or brush through parts that don’t seem to connect to your life. Instead, search for the value that God desires for you to find.

Tell us what part of the Bible seemed irrelevant or unimportant and how God revealed something new to you. Our walk with the Lord is a lifelong experience, and we love hearing how you’re growing closer to the Lord. Email me, Message me of Facebook via niNe. magazine or #LessonsFromTheLord on Instagram or Twitter.

Ten Years of Friendship

By Guest Writer Alicia Hayes (one of niNe. magazine’s awesome speakers)

One of my favorite parts of summer is being with my friends. Late night movies, barbecues with silly yard games, trips into the city, working out in the park are all made exponentially better with a friend. This year is the 10th summer that I get to spend with my best friend. Her name is Grace, and we became friends back in middle school. We recently did the math and realized that it has indeed been exactly ten years since we became friends. This has led me to not only reminisce about our friendship, but to dwell on friendship in general. I sometimes feel like friendship is undervalued and misunderstood in our society. Here are some things that I have learned from my 10 years of friendship with Grace.

Be Individuals Together

Grace and I used to hang out all the time. We were often referred to as the other one’s “other half.” Now we’re not like that anymore, but our friendship is actually stronger. We learned a lot in our transition from inseparable to independent adults, but our relationship is more authentic than it’s ever been. I don’t pretend to know exactly what it’s like to be married, balancing families, house hunting and trying to figure out your life alongside another person. She doesn’t pretend to know exactly what it’s like to be a single adult, work for a new non-profit, and create an independent life. We both understand that we want to be in each other’s lives, no matter how different they are. We have also learned that just because our lives are different, it doesn’t mean there’s no common ground between us. We have learned how to sympathize and step into each other’s worlds and be intentional in our involvement in each other’s lives.

Think Outside of Yourself

Yes, we’re two individual people. With that said, we still need to invest in our friend and put our needs aside from time to time. When I went through a nasty break-up, Grace put aside her stories and happenings to let me vent, cry and talk through my feelings. When Grace was stressed about her wedding, I had to set aside my theatre drama, post-college uncertainty and stories to listen to her, lend advice when appropriate and let her know I supported her. When everything was normal but busy, we both had to think outside of our schedules to send a text, check in and try to make plans to spend time together.

Get Creative

Spending time together and staying involved in each other’s lives is not always easy. We may not always live nearby and even if when we do, our schedules may not line up. It’s times like these that we need to be intentional and creative about spending time with our friends. Sometimes that means multi-tasking, like talking on the phone while we both do chores or run errands. Supplementing simple chit-chat with Facebook messenger. Settling for a 15 minute coffee meeting as opposed to an hour. If we both attend the same event, we meet before or after to spend time together. Maintaining a friendship is not always easy, but it’s always worth the extra effort.

Friendship is one of the most beautiful gifts God has given us. Not all friendships last, but the ones that do are incredibly valuable. Share with us how your closest friendships have blessed you and how you celebrate them! Tag us (@niNeChristianMagazine or @niNeMag) in your IG photos or tweet us and we will regram and retweet you!