Finding Meaningful Friendships (#515)
Fellowship used to be easy. All you had to do was show up for the planned meetings and you had an instant connection with a group of people. Or did you? Some did spawn great friendships, others only the illusion of them until you no longer fit in the way you wanted. Leaving a traditional congregation means we have to see friendships and the development of them a bit differently. How important is it to find like-minded people? What other friendships might God have for you that will enrich your life as much as it enriches theirs? Many people overlook the people nearest tot hem, who can become great friends with a bit of an investment.
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Very timely podcast for me Wayne…I’m going through one of those friendships now, and have been for some time. The primary issues being busyness, and residing in different stages in life. I was thinking give it 1-2 years, but in the podcast, Wayne, when you upped the ante to 8-10, then I began to realize, if its a friendship worth saving, its worth waiting for.
I, like Michelle who was mentioned in the podcast, was too, lonely. For me, it came from an insatiable longing to be in relationships. Then I realized that longing actually drove people away. I’ve learned to be less needy…now that loneliness has turned to aloneness, for which many times is necessary in my life. I actually became comfortable in my own skin.
Hmmm….stats seem to reveal the issue isn’t with God as much as it is with the institution charged with representing Him in the world.
Thank you Wayne. Timely indeed. 🙂
Quotes About Friendship
“Friendship … is born at the moment when one man says to another “What! You too? I thought that no one but myself . . .”
“You can’t stay in your corner of the Forest waiting for others to come to you. You have to go to them sometimes.”
A.A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh
“It is more fun to talk with someone who doesn’t use long, difficult words but rather short, easy words like “What about lunch?”
A.A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh
“I think if I’ve learned anything about friendship, it’s to hang in, stay connected, fight for them, and let them fight for you. Don’t walk away, don’t be distracted, don’t be too busy or tired, don’t take them for granted. Friends are part of the glue that holds life and faith together. Powerful stuff.”
“When we honestly ask ourselves which person in our lives mean the most to us, we often find that it is those who, instead of giving advice, solutions, or cures, have chosen rather to share our pain and touch our wounds with a warm and tender hand. The friend who can be silent with us in a moment of despair or confusion, who can stay with us in an hour of grief and bereavement, who can tolerate not knowing, not curing, not healing and face with us the reality of our powerlessness, that is a friend who cares.”
Henri J.M. Nouwen,
“Some relationships don’t survive the lack of being on a task together.” Good words Wayne. Wish I had realized that many years ago, but today is a new day filled with hope of many sorts. Thank you.
Where is the list???
I am so lonely…. and faced with some MAJOR battles…………. working in a very secular liberal hostile environment……… and now facing medical challenges.
Karen, this isn’t the list you’re looking for, but a blog post that you might gather some encouragement from. At the end, the author invites people who might be near Rochester, NY to reach out.
Karen, what list?!?!! I’m sorry but not sure what you are referring to…
Karen, I’m not sure and if I’m off-base, my apologies. But I think you’re asking about the LifeStream Journey’s List Wayne spoke of in the podcast.
If so, look here:
Thanks, Penny…. You can also get to that list through my website: https://www.lifestream.org/online-community/
Oh wow, thanks for the list. I was looking for a list just like that. Would be great to connect to people. Guys, if you want to connect with me, do drop me a line too. I would love to hear from people on this journey 🙂
Thank you, Wayne. I had overlooked the embedded link on your web page, so I googled it. (google really can be a friend, sometimes). 🙂 I found you through Paul Ellis. He recommended your book, So You Don’t Want To Go To Church, in his “Top 50 Books” for Grace believers. I downloaded it on my kindle and couldn’t put it down. The insights I found there blew me away and answered questions … some I didn’t even know were possible to be answered. At the end of it I found a link to LifeStreams. Anyway, I’m still trying to absorb and wrap my mind around all that’s in that book. It truly touched my heart, but when you’ve been exposed to Law+Grace for a lifetime as I have, these paradigm shifts about Jesus and how much greater He really is than what I ever knew leave me joyously reeling, you might say. I’m still trying to learn to trust Him for literally every breath and every situation … and find out what walking that walk of faith alongside other believers looks like in my own particular life. Thank you so much for writing it. People like you and Paul Ellis are conduits of realization of the reality of His most amazing gift … pure grace.
Thank you, Penny, and welcome to the journey. Enjoy the process of him transforming you as you fall more deeply into the awareness of his love an affection for you. I love your joyously reeling!
I was penning this letter to an estranged friend when you posted this podcast. And I had to smile. In that letter I tried so hard to explain to her what she was doing wrong, and why I can no longer behave the way she wanted me to … and I realise maybe I shouldn’t send it. Or maybe I should, I don’t know? Because it grieves me to see her placing the institution’s needs above an ordinary person’s. I wanted her to turn back to the right path … yet, isn’t she trying to do that to me as well? Trying to turn me back into her definition of a “good Christian”?
Friendships with those who are not on the same journey, or are stuck in the institution mindset, is really hard. Like one of the people who emailed you in the podcast – I am growing tired by the lack of grace from the other side. It feels like I’m the only understanding one in the relationship, and I’m frankly sick of it!
Yet what you said about friendships is so true. When I first started this journey, I was DESPERATE to find people like me. There were very few around, and I felt so lonely. Now that I’m on a spot further along the road, the desire isn’t as great anymore only because I now have friends of all shapes and sizes, and I no longer seek people like me.
Perhaps we’ve been conditioned by the church to seek out people who believe the same, act the same, do the same things. When you’re a little longer in this journey, you began to treasure and love diversity. I have ‘god conversations’ with people of all faiths and belief systems. I find that far more invigorating. Interestingly, I’m more myself with these folks than the church folks lol.
But I still don’t know how to feel about the lack of grace I get from church folks. Sometimes I’m understanding, other times I want to scream in frustration. 😉
This is definitely a podcast I have to listen to again. I’m encouraged to hear you’re coming up north to Alberta or planning on it. You might want to wait till spring it’s kind of cold right now. I don’t know how California folks would like the weather we’re having here right now.
Gaining new Friendships on this journey can be tough, maybe the trick is to lose the expectations that your new friend has to be a carbon copy of yourself. I’m still learning that one.
I think the problem for most of us that grew up in the institution is that we never were taught to appreciate differences, only to condemn them. Why do you think there’s so many denominations and so many walls between those denominations?
Wayne if you do come up to Edmonton, and there are some other God journey listeners, I know I wouldn’t mind connecting with a few of them.
If you’re coming soon, bring a parka and some warm boots, that’s all the advice I have for you.
Ruby from Edmonton signing off
I’ve listened to a great many God Journey podcasts yet never written before but on listening to Finding Meaningful Relationships (#515) I’m sensing that my experience just might encourage someone who’s also on this journey. A little background… from living communally with other believers back in the 70s, to being backslidden and alcoholic, to having a unbelievable visitation from Father one night, to recommitting to Christ and subsequently joining a large church where I soon was a member of the elder board, and finally a defrocked elder. Whew, now THAT’s a journey right there. Then, a divorce immediately followed by a debilitating stroke leaving me wheelchair bound while I began the long road to physical recovery. I found myself sitting in my old farmhouse wondering whatever will become of me??? No church… no fellowship… no “ministry”. That’s when in 2011/2012 a timely call to an old friend (who happens to be a close friend of yours Wayne) who suggested I listen to some podcasts on The God Journey. What’s a podcast?, I asked. Needless to say my road to Living Loved had now begun. It wasn’t long before I experienced a major paradigm shift in my relationship with Father. I thought I’d found Nirvana!! However, slowly, I began to feel a loneliness and a yearning for fellowship with other “like minded” believers and began seachingand yet could find none. I’d reach out long distance to our old friend and that helped but not like the face-to-face fellowship would, or so I was convinced. Frantically looking for other “like minded” believers I found myself alone and wondered why would God lead me into such a wonderful fellowship with Him yet leave me alone in this world. Ahhh, time for another “epiphany”! Over time, as my “aloneness” became the norm, I began to realize that Father’s intention was not to lead me into a fellowship of like minded folk but rather, and far more importantly, Father wanted me to love all who came into my life on a daily basis. I began to see that my “ministry” (don’t’cha love that term!!) my calling was to love everyone I came in contact with… to ask Father how can I love this person or that person?? I’ve been living this way for about 2 years now and I couldn’t be happier. It’s a great paradox and it’s true that it’s in dying that I find life… it’s in giving that I receive, and it’s in loving others with no expectation of a reward that I find more love than I ever thought possible. So, all this being said (sorry it’s become a book) I am now surrounded by so many people who love me and most of them are not “like-minded”!! Heck, some aren’t even believers or “Christians” but I spend hours on the phone every day with them and every week I have people dropping in to see me in my old country farmhouse and we sit around my small dining table talking… laughing… and sometimes even praying. My life is full beyond measure and I have not found a fellowship of “like minded” believers… what I have found is a treasure trove of misfits, rejects, alcoholics in various stages of recovery, and even some Christians in various stages of recovery. So, I want to encourage anyone who thinks they need to find like-minded in order to be fulfilled… become a lover of whoever God brings in your path and your life will be more full than you can imagin. 🙂
Bob, what a wonderful journey! Hardening of the categories called for a radical pharisectomy. Done with love with the hands of my Father. I have been so fortunate to be surrounded by a wide variety of folks. At first I tried to change them. Then I began to change me. Then I learned to enjoy them. My Father is working in each of their lives, and in me through them.
I had a young man come to me for advice. I explained to him that I had at best a small bit of insight based on my experience. Then I told him I expected to learn more from him that he would learn from me. He was surprised but we spent time talking. Very fruitful for me. Hopefully he was blessed as well.
Continue conversations. I suspect that skill will be most useful in heaven. Everyone wants to be listened to.
Ruby, don’t worry I won’t come in the dead of winter! It looks like Alberta is shaping up for late May/early June. And I’ll definitely be in the Edmonton area… Got lots of interest on this so far, so I’m excited to head up that way. If you want to be notified I’m coming to your area you can sign up on our email list at Lifestream and include your address: http://eepurl.com/bJ43Ar.
Bob, love your story and where it has led you. When we’re so preoccupied trying to get the thing we think we need, we miss the things God is giving us that he knows we really need.
I have recently been going through the very painful process of learning more about myself. Six months ago I thought I knew most things…today, I have come to realize I don’t know as much as I thought I did. I have learned about myself that I have hid behind a cloak of fear and control – controlling how I present myself to others, controlling through staying in a place of intellect and knowledge, controlling through trying to “help” my wife and others become who I thought they needed to be, controlling by finding fault and being critical of others so that I can judge they are not safe for me to open up with…thus, remaining lonely.
I have isolated myself from the loving and present friends that are all around me. I have come to realize that I have done this out of my own shame and fear of abandonment and rejection. However, recently I have been intensely and painfully humbled so that my self-protection almost had no choice but to come crumbling down.
Now, I am entering a place where I see the love of the family of God all around me. I am seeing that people are on their own journey and it is never been my place to move them along. I am seeing that what I used to think has been love, has been more motivated by anxiety and fear than I ever realized.
Father is moving me into a greater community through the pain of self-revelation. I am seeing community spring forth from the some of the same people that I privately saw as “unsafe.” These people are not unsafe, they are broken and loving people trying to figure life out just like me.
I am learning to accept and receive others wherever they are at on this journey, and it is painfully good! Painful because it is entering the risk of hurt and pain; and good because I am experience safe and loving people instead. Community has been all around me all along.
Great observations, Jim. I think that happens for most people. I love how Father invites us out of our shame and isolation to discover that what we were wanting is all around us already.
I am definitely in a transitional state right now. Up until I finally allowed myself to read “So you don’t want to go to church anymore, I did not believe it was possible to be a Jesus follower without belonging to a “church.” Through a serious of health/family challenges I found myself unable to attend for an extended period of time. When I tried to return to the Sunday morning event, it just did not feel like I belonged anymore. I had been exploring the internet for ways to get my spiritual nourishment, when I remembered a book I heard some people discussing after a service at the church I attended a number of years ago (So you don’t want to go…). I googled it and found it for free on the internet. I read it and began exploring everything I could find about you, Wayne Jacobsen. I made the connection between you and “The Shack.” “The Shack” spoke deeply to me like nothing else I have ever read. I was a bit reluctant to embrsce it fully because I heard that it had been removed from our local Lifeway bookstore. I found your The God Journey podcast and have been listening every day for several months. Just today I heard something that was another huge paradigm shift for me from an archived podcast from Spring 2009. I am paraphrasng the best that I can remember it.
For years I have been bemoaning the fact that it takes so long to get some new truth that I have come to believe in my head to make the connection with my heart so that it actually begins to change the way I live my life! What I heard today suggested that I just spend more time in the presence of God letting the reality of His love for me overwhelm my heart! Then I can just allow my heart to overwhelm my head! Finally, a way to get out of my head!
I am feeling very much bereft of the friendships I had in the “church.” Trying to remember to ask God how he wants me to love the people He has already put in my life and any new ones He brings in. That still voice inside me that I am beginning to recognize as the voice of my loving Papa God keeps telling me, “I want you all to myself for a bit longer still.”
I hope to be able to connect with more believers on this God Journey sometime soon. Will be watching your schedule to see when you might be close enough by so that I can attend.
I have no idea where you are, Margaret, but I just posted some of my travel plans for this spring: https://www.lifestream.org/upcoming-trips/
Thanks, Wayne! I am in Long Beach, Mississippi on the Gulf Coast. I will check out your travel plans link.
This is UPS. We were having trouble contacting you to set up a delivery time so thought we would use this website. We have your jet. Let us know when you’ll be able to get it……..
I know how painful it is to be “excommunicated” by your friends/family when you are seen to be doing something that they cannot agree with in their blame and shame culture.
I wonder if it is possible to take a step back and maybe see a different picture? So that although it feels intensely personal, if you can see the actions in a wider context it may give a different voice to the pain?
God is building HIS church, nothing like this man made structure with broken down walls and hideous alters. He is building HIS church, a bride that is beautiful without spot or wrinkle or any such thing. She exists inside every believer, and in every believer her voice is rising. God is calling her out, as her voice rose inside of you, and you saw something greater, you did what Paul did, you shook the dust from your feet and left, whatever that looked like physically, that is what is happening in the heavenlies. Religion creates a massive parasitic root inside of us and it takes some time for that root to be excised from us by a God who is so tender. Those who you leave behind will not understand until the voice of the bride is louder in their heart than the voice of religion is in their ears. My prayer is that all will wake up to this cry of the Bride, this heartbeat of God within us, seeking out her beloved. That we can step away a little from our pain and rejection and see it in light of the bigger picture of a God who so loves us he will do anything to resuscitate, resurrect his bride. It wont be like it was in the past, a valley of bones filled with flesh and brought back to life. An old structure that is revived for a few years before sinking into anonymity again behind high walls, solid oak doors and pretty stained glass windows. Instead it is something utterly new, a called out, holy, living breathing creature rooted and grounded in love. Growing up into the head, her beloved. Then the Church will be something awesome in this world. She will be his bride beautiful, without spot, without blemish. When he looks at us, he already sees her as she will be, for us this is still the journey, out of the old and into the new.