So what do you talk about with your friends?
In my previous post I introduced you to the concept of Red Delicious Apple friendships, those harvested from the common ground of some mutually appreciated activity, an interest in which you both delight or even a shared burden or struggle. These are our "another" friends, the ones with whom we've found something in common and have proceeded to enjoy that commonality as buddies.
But you'll also remember that a few days ago I offered you my own definitions of friendship and friends. As a reminder, here are Kay's definitions of friends and friendship:
A friend is one who speaks into your life and you mutually speak into hers.
A friendship is a relationship in which both parties mutually speak into each others' lives.
Well, now it's time to put two and two together.
If a Red Delicious Apple friendship is propagated when two people find they have something in common and begin to build a relationship based on that common seed, and a friendship is one in which these two people speak into each others' lives, then it only stands to reason that, at least in this Red Delicious Apple Friendship stage, these two people talk mostly about that which they have in common. Their "conversation" revolves almost completely around this shared interest. While they may venture into other conversational territory occasionally, the most comfortable and easy conversation between these two takes place on the fertile ground of their common interest.
For instance, my friend Marilyn is my hairdresser. I've known Marilyn now for about 7 years and I do indeed consider her a friend. About every 7 weeks or so I spend about an hour to two hours with just her. She's a talker, so Marilyn and I talk a lot during that stretch of time.
Now Marilyn is about 8 years older than me. She's lived in Arizona all her life and she's a hair dresser. We vote differently and we do not share a common faith. In many ways, we are different. But we have one very important thing in common. Marilyn and I are both moms. We both have a teenager and an adult child. So the one thing we most often speak into each others' lives about is parenting these kids. We've talked through middle school athletics, high school classes, graduations, college testing, moving into college dorms, teenage friendships, teenage dating, teenage mistakes, and every parenting strategy you can imagine. Marilyn is an "another" friend. She is "another" mom. And I have come to value Marilyn's perspective, her experience, and her feedback. She is a shiny Red Delicious Apple friend and I'm thankful she's in my harvest basket.
Here's the thing though. As a woman of faith, a follower of Christ, I want to speak more into Marilyn's life than just my limited knowledge of parenting. While we may not share a common faith, I still want to speak my faith into her life. I would be negligent not to.
So how do you "sweeten the conversation" in a red delicious friendship with the grace of Jesus? Here are a few ideas.
- Bridle your tongue. In a Red Delicious Friendship it's easy to slip into some bad conversational habits such as gossip, criticism of others, husband bashing, jealous talk, or even foul talk. When we do this, we blow our opportunity for glorifying God in that relationship. Keep the conversation sweet by being on your toes with your behavior. Even if she goes there, you steer clear of ungodly talk. You'll be glad you did when it comes time to share about your Savior.
- Pray beforehand. I have to drive about 40 minutes to get to Marilyn's hair salon. I always use this time to pray for Marilyn and our impending discussion so that I'll be more prone to honor God with my words.
- Speak grace. Those who don't know Jesus are hungry for the grace He offers. The whole world is aching for grace, even if they don't know it. When you talk with your Red Delicious Apple friend, show them through your gracious conversation how to show others forbearance, forgiveness, kindness, and patience, even if it's not deserved. After all, that's exactly what grace is: undeserved favor.
- Share your current testimony. You would probably be amiss to share your full-blown salvation testimony every time you and your buddy climb into the golf cart or lace up your running shoes or dine at your favorite Indonesian restaurant, but you can easily and simply share something God did for you yesterday or the day before. Share a recently answered prayer, a scriptural truth that gave you perspective on a fuzzy situation, or a word of encouragement you heard in a sermon.
Red Delicious friendships aren't usually our deepest relationships. I've reserved a different category for those and we'll get there in another blog post or two. But these sweet, red beauties are definitely worthy of our best, at least our best behavior and language.
In my research I learned that Red Delicious Apples bruise easily. I've also noticed, from personal experience, that they brown easily and get a little mushy rather quickly. Red Delicious friendships are not so different. They too tend to bruise and brown easily. Perhaps that is because they are not our most valued or precious
apples friends, and so we treat them with a casual familiarity and even a little carelessness. But if we want our Red Delicious friendships to honor God (at least on our part), then we might need to polish them up a little. We can't remove the bruises from apples, and indeed it's not going to be easy to repair a Red Delicious friendship that's gone bad either. But with God's grace and our persistence, we can polish up even the most damaged friendship so that it once again tastes fresh and sweet.
- What common offender has most often bruised your Red Delicious friendships? Jealousy, unforgiveness, gossip, critical talk, foul language, husband bashing, or another equally ugly habit or attitude?
- Have you ever polished a bruised Red Delicious friendship back to its original sheen? How did you do that? What did that "sweetening up" require of you?