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You Can Reverse the Friendship Recession, with Kelly Needham
Your Christian friendships are worth fighting for. Discover the why and how in this episode featuring Kelly Needham, along with Grounded favorite Robyn McKelvy and a boots-on-the-ground report from Christians in Ukraine.
Connect with Kelly:
Portia Collins: There is a recession happening, and it affects us all. But we're not talking about the kind of recession that hits our pockets. I'm Portia Collins.
Dannah Gresh: Well good morning Portia. I can't hear a single word you're saying. Tech problems right from the start. But my name is Dannah Gresh. And we are here to give you a weekly infusion of hope and perspective. And Portia, I gotta say, you've got my …
Your Christian friendships are worth fighting for. Discover the why and how in this episode featuring Kelly Needham, along with Grounded favorite Robyn McKelvy and a boots-on-the-ground report from Christians in Ukraine.
Connect with Kelly:
Portia Collins: There is a recession happening, and it affects us all. But we're not talking about the kind of recession that hits our pockets. I'm Portia Collins.
Dannah Gresh: Well good morning Portia. I can't hear a single word you're saying. Tech problems right from the start. But my name is Dannah Gresh. And we are here to give you a weekly infusion of hope and perspective. And Portia, I gotta say, you've got my curiosity picked. What kind of recession is there, other than I mean, we're all feeling it. The economic recession?
Portia: Yeah, we are actually in the middle of a friendship recession. And 60% of women say that they've lost touch with their friends over the past two years, and many say they are no longer in contact with most of their friends.
Dannah: Okay, now I'm trekking with you, because I feel it. I've heard that term in the media, friendship recession. I've got to say I have felt it. I have had some, just a lack of words to put with the concern I have for friendship in the body of Christ. I think it's significant. I think it matters. And I think we need to address it.
You know, Portia, I attended a bridal shower this past Saturday. I didn't really realize how big this was until I hugged friends that I haven't seen—some of them for nearly three years. I've missed them so much, but just the fact that there have been fewer social events. I haven't seen some people that are important in my life. And at the same time, can I get honest, is it okay if I'm honest?
Portia: Go ahead, girl, go ahead.
Dannah: Okay. Some of the strongest friend groups that I'm in, I'm talking about discipleship groups, women who are my prayer anchors, those relationships have been tested, I guess, by the trial of public opinion. Do you feel it? I'm sure you're feeling it. Yes. If you're feeling it, tell us in the comments, we want to know. And here's why this episode matters. There are a lot of factors contributing to the current friendship recession, things like changes in the workplace. There's more people working remotely, lower marriage rates, because people aren't getting out there and mixing it up and meeting one another and a myriad of other things. But one of the factors that I read about this weekend is this declining religious involvement. That's to say people are not going to church. People are not actively involved in the body of Christ. So, for us as followers of Jesus, and for those who we want to win to Jesus, this is about so much more than having people to just spend time with.
Portia: Absolutely, for sure, for sure. You know, check out this headline that I found. It said, “The Lonely Crowd,” and like the subtitle was, “Churches Dying Due to Friendlessness.”
Dannah: That just makes me sad, Portia. I want to see the Church thriving, thriving. I want to see the Church thriving, and we want to see you thriving as part of the church. Our guest today is author of a book on healthy friendship, Kelly Needham. She’s one of my favorite people in the world to coach us up and to give us some really practical advice to push back against the friendship recession, and to begin to experience authentic community again.
Portia: Yeah, but before Kelly joins us and Dannah issues a serious challenge from God's Word this morning . . . okay, cuz she's gonna bring it.
Dannah: I’m going to bring it.
Portia: And listen, and I'm so ready for it. I'm so ready for it. But before we get to all of that, we are about to get a dose of good news from our cohost, my sister, Erin Davis.
Portia: But first, let me remind you before she gives us that good news, y'all need to hear hit the share button. Share this podcast with other women, especially if it's a friend that you've kind of lost touch with. Say, “Hey, girl, join me.”
Dannah: Yeah. Love that.
Good News: God Is at Work around the World
Erin Davis: Be a good friend of the program. This is gonna sound weird, but I kind of get excited when the technology goes all kinds of wonky, because usually that means that God's about to do something really cool with this episode of Grounded. Certainly, I would say that the enemy cares about whether Christian friendships are healthy or not. So, I don't want to give them too much credit. Sometimes it's just loose power cord, but I am eager to see what's going to happen on this episode of Grounded.
One of the things that we love about Grounded that really fills our hearts is that women watch this videocast or catch the podcast later from really all over the world. And if you're one of the several thousands who watch it live on Monday morning, you're watching it right now. I would like you to take a moment and just show off where you're from. You can drop a comment about where you're from, or maybe you could drop an emoji with your country flag. But we would love to see the Grounded sisterhood as we like to call you. We want you to represent where you are watching and listening from. And I have a reason for doing that.
One of the reasons that seeing all those countries and states represented is so inspiring to me is because God's Church, the capital “C” Church, is global. It is certainly not just an American phenomenon or a Western phenomenon. God is at work all around the world. And today during our good news segment, I want to turn your attention to a part of the world that you may be already paying attention to. And that is the nation of Ukraine.
Can I make a confession Grounded family? I couldn't have found Ukraine on a map before it started becoming the headline, but now I can. And it is a nation that is dominating the headlines this morning. We were at a Mexican restaurant on Saturday. There were televisions everywhere. I don't know why. And all of the TVs were playing stories of Ukraine. My little boys said, “Mom, where's Ukraine?” Because they saw all the pictures of the tanks. It is a place that the world is watching.
The border of Russia and Ukraine has become such a hotbed for military activity. Russia has assembled somewhere in the neighborhood of 150,000 troops at that border. And today, the story is that invasion is probably imminent. So that doesn't sound like good news. I understand that maybe that doesn't feel like hope and perspective, which is what we endeavor to give away here on Grounded.
But here is some good news. Do you know whose eyes are also on that part of the world? The one whose eyes are on every part of the world. The Lord is watching, and He's working even in the midst of this tense, conflict that is happening. Most Ukrainians are holding daily drills to prepare for the invasion. But there are Ukrainian Christians. They are the real boots on the ground, and they're using a different weapon, prayer.
Pastors across the country are gathering with their congregations for intercessory prayer. Other Christians are broadcasting hope even though 99% of the communities in Ukraine have no Christian radio station. Internet organizations like New Life Radio are sending true gospel hope through the airwaves. And while it's true that some missionaries have left the country, many missionaries are like the story that were reported on Afghanistan several months ago. Many missionaries are standing their ground. They're staying put to minister and share the gospel with a nation that is really looking for hope. One pastor reported this about Christians in Ukraine: they are forbidden from having church meetings together, but they do still do it secretly. I think this is what will happen if Russia invades, but the truth is, it is impossible to stop the Church of Jesus Christ.
Praying for Ukraine, with Ellissa Petrenko
I'm getting fired up. I love to see and hear what God is doing around His globe. It's always good news to know that He's at work. We have joining us on Grounded this morning Ellissa Petrenko, who is live from Ukraine. Ellissa Welcome to Grounded.
Ellissa Petrenko: Hi, Erin, thanks so much for having me.
Erin: We are just seeing the news. We are not there. Describe what it is like to live in Ukraine in this moment in history.
Ellissa: You know, it's crazy. I never imagined I would be living in a place that was making so many headlines. But God brought me here through marriage. I married a missionary, and I'm living here now for about a year. And you know, it's really daily. Every day we wake up and we don't know, like, will we check the news and learn that they did cross the border and there is an invasion? Or will it be another day of peace and just going about our daily life? So, it's such a strange way to live your life every day wondering what's going to happen, but we are trusting the Lord daily. It's causing us to pray a lot more and to seek Him and just to remember that He is our true protector or true defender. So, I know He's using this to strengthen our faith for sure.
Erin: I love that I should have said you're Texas born and raised so you are maybe not used to having a mass troop on the border and pregnant with your first child, which brings all kinds of fear on its own, and then living in this climate of fear. What do you see happening in people's hearts?
Ellissa: There is a lot of fear. People are nervous, nobody wants to be invaded by an enemy country, somebody they've been at war with for many, many years. This is not necessarily anything new. But a lot of people just fear wondering what's going to happen? Will I be able to leave the country if I need to?
Because, not everyone has transportation. So, will I be able to leave? What will happen to my elderly grandparents or parents or my kids? Kids are scared here. They're going to school, and they're hearing about bomb threats. It's scary. And so, I think there is a lot of fear, which makes me really sad.
Erin: Yeah, no doubt. Well, we want to pray. And we want to really pray. I mean, we can certainly pray generally. And God knows what our brothers and sisters there need. But can you give us some specifics about how we as the Church wherever we are, can pray for Ukraine today?
Ellissa: Yes, and thank you all so much; we so appreciate it here. Because obviously prayers are the most powerful weapon we have. I would say, number one, I am hoping that this situation brings about revival for the people of Ukraine. About less than I think 2% of the population is like Protestant believers. So, my prayer is that it would bring about revival and people's hearts would turn to the Lord in this crisis.
And then just wisdom for our leaders. You know, this is huge. They have huge decisions to make every single day they're guiding an entire nation, so that they would have wisdom, true wisdom from above to know what to do. And then my heart is (maybe it's the justice in me) just that evil would not win, that evil would not be victorious in this situation. But true freedom and true independence would prosper in the end. But yeah, my biggest prayer is prayer for revival for the people.
Erin: Ellissa, so good. Let me pray right now for you. And our family . . . I mean, I'm going to be in heaven forever with my brothers and sisters from Ukraine and so this is heavy on my heart this morning. Let's pray.
Jesus, You are God of all creation. You call the stars out one by one and not one of them is missing. And You are attentive to what's happening in Ukraine. And Ellissa just so beautifully articulated how we can pray, and I just want to put my aim in there, Lord. Our highest hope is that a nation where 2% of the population knows you would become a nation where 100% of the population knows You, Lord. And as we open our Bibles, and we consider history, we see how many times You've used oppressive darkness and death to turn our hearts towards life.
And so, I pray that You would do a miraculous revival in Ukraine, that we would see it in our day. I pray for Ellissa and her husband as a servant missionaries in that nation, Lord, that You would expand their influence because they have the message of hope. I pray for that sweet baby girl who's growing in her mama's womb right now, Lord. She's going to be born maybe under an edict of death. And You were born under an edict of death, Lord, and so I just pray that she would be an oak of righteousness planted by streams of living water, that her whole life she would see Your hand. God press Ukraine into our hearts. Help us remember to keep praying to Your name, amen. Thank you, Ellissa, for being with us. We're gonna pray with you.
Ellissa: Amen, thank you.
Dannah: Amen, amen. Wow. Erin Davis, you know this. I feel stirred.
Erin: Me too.
Grounded in the Word: Hebrews 10:22
Dannah: This feels like those early days of Grounded when we were reading the headlines, and then popping on here every morning to say how do we as Christian women respond? And how exciting is it that we don't have to just look at the news of what's happening in Ukraine, but we can enter into intercession for our sisters? Great to put a face with the names of our Christian brothers and sisters in Christ in the Ukraine.
I hope you'll pray with us. Erin, I'm going to go ahead and get us into God's Word. Grab your Bibles, friends, if you can turn to the book of Hebrews. How we need each other and encouragement from one another right now the world over. Christians need one another in a special way right now. There's no room for a friendship recession. We cannot tolerate it. When we're cultivating a community, whose purpose is to win the last one. We must have zero tolerance when friendships start to be frayed. But look around. The friendship recession has hit the body of Christ.
I will admit that it's hit me. I was recounting some friendship fissures with my friend Aubrey yesterday, the kind of friendships that just kind of make you not want to go to church. And my friend, Aubrey, just put her hand on my elbow. And she quietly said, “I love you. And I like you.”
Tears and courage, courage to step into the arena and love friends who are difficult right now. And they're probably saying Dannah is difficult right now; I’ve got to find the courage to love her. I just didn't know how much I needed that encouragement. And when I got it yesterday, it reminded me of a passage in Hebrews 10. And as I considered how I might implore you to help us fix this recession, I thought, this is kind of a perfect mixture of conviction and compassion.
So, let me read to you from Hebrews 10. I'm going to start in verse 22. Again, grab your Bibles and turn there if you can. It says,” Let us hold fast to the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful and consider how to stir one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet and let us not neglecting to meet together as such is the habit of some, but encouraging one another. And all the more, as you see the day drawing near.”
Alright, so the word neglecting in this verse means to renounce or to desert, as in totally abandoning meeting together with other believers. Now, meeting together describes any meeting, any meeting that indicates association with other believers could be for meals and encouragement as we read about in the second chapter of Acts. It could be organized worship, as we're instructed to experience in 1 Corinthians 14.
Meeting together here in Hebrews 10 is probably speaking generically of any gathering that would mark you as a Christian. And this passage is warning against renouncing one's Christians, brothers and sisters and Christ, by essentially deserting them or forsaking to meet together with them.
Now, that's a really big deal. Some of the commentaries I read yesterday said that it was kind of a claim of apostasy, which is like abandoning the faith. That's how important it is that we are meeting together and fostering friendship in the body of Christ.
Now the consequence for doing that, for forsaking meeting together with other believers, the consequence involves the day. The day, what does that mean—the day approaching? Well, that refers to the Judgment Day.
Now, I don't know how close we are to those final days when the Judgement Day will happen. And each of us will stand before Christ alone. But I know this, we're one day closer than we were yesterday. The reason that there's an urgency for the closer we get to that day, that we're more eagerly pursuing Christian friendship as we approach that day, is because we have to have our friendships in place for the kinds of things that are happening in the Ukraine. Because that's the kind of things that will happen in those days as we approach the Day of Judgment.
And we're going to need each other so, so desperately. And we are one day closer to that day. We must be pursuing Christian friendships in preparation for that. Now, I want to tell you this passage is not for you if you have cancer and cannot be in community right now. I just read a comment from Cindy, who said that between COVID, retirement, and her husband’s stage four cancer, they're feeling very isolated right now. Cindy, this passage isn't for you. We need to come to you, bring the family to you. But it's okay if you're not in these formal gatherings.
It's not for you if you're growing elderly and you have to stay home in the context of the passage in the context of ancient Rome. The passage was referring to those who sinned deliberately by renouncing Christians and Christ through habitually abandoning meeting with believers. And listen to this. One of the commentaries I read said that “the purpose of abandoning it was to avoid Roman persecution.” Oh, like, who wouldn't want to avoid that? And it's saying even if there is the risk of persecution, do not forsake being together. You need each other. Sister if you've not gotten back to church, I'm not saying this to make you feel shame. Just conviction.
I want to invite you back. We need you, and you need the body. We can't be a healthy community of friends who winsomely welcome the lost unless we have unity and commitment to each other and to Jesus. We need you, come back.
Now maybe you haven't been a wall. Alright. Sister, I have a special challenge for you. It's found in verse 23. Now, this is one of my man's favorite verses in the whole Bible. I know by heart it says, “Consider how to stir one another to love and good works.”
So, I want to ask you to look around: who's missing at your church? Are you judging them? Or considering how you can stir them up to love and good works? I want you to stir them up this week. Maybe just text them, “We miss you.” Or perhaps you need to take them to coffee and say, “We need you.” Or could be you have enough of a relationship to just open your Bible to Hebrews 10 and shoot straight with them as I just did with you.
And let me encourage you for those who are experiencing some friendship failures and fishers like myself, maybe carry with you some gentle language, the language like my friend Aubrey used yesterday, because some of them maybe need to hear, “I love you. And I like you.” Erin.
Erin: Dannah, I love you. And I like you very, very much. This is such an important topic, really, a passion topic for Dannah and I and the whole Grounded team. And we knew just who we want it to be on to talk about it. I want to welcome Kelly Needham. Kelly is a mom of four. She's the wife of Christian recording artist, Jimmy Needham, and she's author of this book, which if you don't have this on your shelf, or maybe more importantly, on your nightstand where you will actually read it . . . Today is your cue to get it. It's called Friend-ish: Reclaiming Real Friendship in a Culture of Confusion. She wrote this pre-pandemic, but it certainly applies to post-pandemic. Welcome back to Grounded, Kelly.
Kelly Needham: Hey, Erin, glad to be here.
Erin: Okay, all right out of the chute, I want you to give us a solid, biblical definition of friendship, because I think it's like a lot of our words and has lots of definitions. How do you see Scriptures defining friendship?
Kelly: Yeah, that's a really important question. And when I was searching the Scriptures for what does this Book say, about friendship, I actually couldn't find a definition of a friendship as much as I could find a definition of what a friend is. And that's really what I think the Scripture calls us to is, what kind of friend am I being?
And the Scripture calls us to be the kind of friend to others that we wish we had ourselves. And that that's really what it's calling us to—not wait around for the perfect friendship to just fall into place. “Oh, yes. This is the Jonathan and David friendship I've been waiting for.” But to go, “No, I'm called to be the friend to others that I'm longing for.” So, when I walk into church, and I think, How would I like to be greeted walking in here? How would I like to be encouraged? That's now my marching orders. I need to greet others that way.
Erin: That is so good.
Kelly: And I need to now encourage others that way. And that's really the Bible's definition of friendship. And I think when you practice that, you'll actually find no lack of friends.
Erin: Yeah, that's so good. That's intentional. I'm sure in God's Word that our focus is on how to be good friends, instead of having the right kind of friends. You mentioned Jonathan and David, they actually do give me a picture for good friendship. In 1 Samuel, it says their souls were knit together, which I love. You know, it's that idea that you can't pull us apart. I’m don't sure we model that all that well.
I want to know, what are the hallmarks of healthy Christian friendship? And what does it look like when it's not healthy? You have an appendix in the back of your book just for this. I thought it was so eye opening. So, healthy friendship versus unhealthy friendship, what's the difference?
Kelly: Sure. Well, I'm going to just jump off of your reference to Jonathan and David there, because one of the things that I think is so striking about their friendship, when you look at it, is they are united about around something bigger than just their own friendship. When you really pay attention to what's happening in the text, that what Jonathan finds in David—a man who is after God's own heart like he is. Jonathan is really unique in his passion for the Lord and His time.
And so, these two come together because of their common goal of caring about God's glory in the nation. And that's to me, one of the things that should distinguish our friendships as Christians that we have a common mission, something bigger than just our own friendships that actually unite these past differences and compatibility and people we tend to get along with or not. But we have this common mission that Christian friendship is missional. And that's actually what makes it closer knit.
And so, friendships become ingrown, we begin to just look at our friendships for what can I get out of this friendship and we're just trying to make each other feel good. We've lost the vision for what God has called us to as ambassadors. That's a sign that it's getting unhealthy. And there's a lot of manifestations of that. But I think at the root of it, it's a loss of mission, in the friendship. It's I need friends to be okay more than I need friends to continue my job as an ambassador of Christ and in my role in the body.
Erin: Ding ding, ding, ding, ding, Grounded sisters, I hope you wrote that down. It's not, “I need friends to be okay.” It's, “I need friends to continue my mission.” That's so important. I think we would all affirm that and we would mean it. And yet, Christian friendships can sometimes be hard to first form and then maintain. What do you think are some of the barriers, the biggest barriers we face as Christians who go, “Yeah, we want to have Christian friends, we want to be on mission together?” But there's a barrier. What do you think those barriers are?
Kelly: Sure. I think there's a couple of factors. One is, we have been discipled by the world in what friendship looks like. Now, we don't take our friendships, as Christians, maybe into clubs and into parties and into some of those things. But we were watching the DNA of worldly friendship in sitcoms and movies and we're just taking that into Bible study. We're taking it into church on Sunday morning. We're taking a really worldly version of friendship at its core, and practicing that with Christian clothes on and we don't realize it.
So, I think there's a lack of seeing it modeled that sometimes is a hindrance. And then I think the other big hindrance I find is that there's a poverty of relationship with Christ in a lot of hearts. The friendship we have with Christ is not tangible and real enough to people on the day to day and so they actually have nothing to draw from to give toward friendship, because we are called to be generous in friendship to others. But that requires that you have something to pull from.
If you are empty and thirsty, then you're always going to walk toward friendship with hunger in your heart and subtly demanding, “I need a friend. I'm going to make a friend but mainly it’s because I need something from you.”
And there are legitimate needs that the Scripture tells us we have. But I think there is a sense in which I need to come to my friendship because I have Christ. And when He is my Living Water and my True Bread, then now I am I'm okay. I can greet others in the lobby. I can invite a friend of coffee. And if that doesn't work out it, I'm not upset, because I have a true friend.
Erin: Man, that’s good.
Kelly: And so, when there's poverty in the relationship, man, it really makes it hard to do friendship well.
Erin: I've been walking with the Lord for I don't know, 25 years, I think. I still feel funny about considering Him my friend even though I know that's totally biblical. But He is the King of kings and the Lord of lords and is right now seated at the right hand of the Father. So, it can feel a little strange to consider Him my friend. But you're right, our friendships do flow out.
But I want to tell you a little story, Kelly. So, a couple of weeks ago, I was in church and I emailed the pastor during the service. We took out of the service that part where the pastor would say, “Hey, turn and greet your neighbor.” I know you haven't had it for a long time. I thought we lost it because of COVID. But something that's happened in our church is our pastor says a third of our people left, a third of our people are new, and a third of our people are the same. So, I look around my church on Sunday morning, I go cool. Are these people? And if they're new, how are they meeting people? So, I emailed my pastor and said, “Hey, would you remit part of the service back?” And he said, “It's interesting. We actually took that out before COVID. Because we were hearing from new people that it didn't feel genuine.”
And I get that it does feel a little forced. But I take from that, then how are we supposed to connect. He said, “We've extended our lobby time so that people can connect that way.” And I thought, a new person is not going to go up to a group of friends in the lobby and introduce themselves. So, I get that sometimes it can feel forced. What are the genuine ways that we can make friends with the new people in the body, the new Christians to our community? How do we make that genuine?
Kelly: Yeah. Well, for starters, one of the best things I think you can do. And this has been fun for me to practice lately with a lot of new people in our church as well. I arrive to church early, get there 10-15 minutes early, and just walk around.
Erin: Are you telling me you get to church early with four kids? Is that true?
Kelly: It is true. But it took practice.
Erin: Oh man, I am so impressed.
Kelly: In my head I have told myself that start time is 30 minutes earlier than it is.
Erin: That’s good.
Kelly: And we don't make it but we get there. There's a little table they can sit around, and then there's always people wandering around. If I can get them checked in early enough, and I have those 5-10 minutes before service starts there. The new people usually come early because they don’t know where to go.
Erin: That’s true.
Kelly: You know, so they get a spot somewhere and I can walk around and greet them and go, “Hi, welcome to our church. Are you new? How long have you been here? My name is Kelly.” You know, are you connected anywhere, and that feels really genuine and the same thing goes bursting maybe a little late to not just rush, if you have kids and childcare, maybe go get your kids. So sweet nursery workers need you to pick up your kid.
But you can also model that for your kids and just say we're going to meet a few new people and get some new names. And then we're going to go home; we’re going to pray for them. And maybe next week, keep an eye out for them. If you are new to a church, what would that mean for you? For someone to come and greet you who's not the pastor, who's not on staff, is just a member. It immediately shows you the church is bigger than just a pastor preaching on stage and the worship team. And we're just recipients that there's an organic community here.
But we are called to be inviting others into, that that's our job. Each one of us has that job. And there are many ways you could do that. You could text your email to your pastor and say, who are some of the new people? Can I have an address? And write a note, if you can't come early, or stay late. But it's our job to be proactive and serve people.
Erin: Yeah, we had a hard conversation in our small group several years ago, because there were some families that were needy. Some of us wanted to invite them into our already humongous small group where childcare was already a challenge. And they were already not enough places to sit. And some other families felt like no, this is our group, it doesn't feel the same when there are new people here. And we really had to wrestle through a lot of these things that you're talking about, like, what are we really here for? We're not just here to be comfortable. And we ended up, of course, inviting those families in, but it took some tough discussions.
Okay, last question. I'm asking for a friend, wink, wink. What's the first step we take when we have been hurt by a friend? The friendship recession in our life is because of pain, something hurtful that's been said, or just feeling like we've been left behind and all this COVID nonsense. Give us some first steps we can take.
Kelly: Well, the Lord calls us to forgive no matter what happens, right? So, we start there and ask for help from the Spirit to forgive our sister who hurt us. And then my favorite verse for this is in Ephesians 4, where it says to speak the truth, one to another, and not to be false. Because we're members of one another, because we are a united body. If we have been hurt, we're called not to kind of just put that in a corner and ignore it and go, “No, it's fine. It's fine.” We're called to be honest, and say, “Hey, that hurt my feelings.” And because we're members of one another, I actually want to address it so that we can find reconciliation about this.
And so, I can be kind and honest, that works best when you've worked through forgiveness first. But since it's how my feelings have been hurt, “Have I hurt you? And can we talk about it?” And have a moment and I think we shy away from those moments too much. But I think Christian communities should be full of this type of conflict resolution,moments we see conflict as negative, but it is not. It is the way we fight for unity, to speak the truth in love to one another and put aside falsehood and stop being fake with one another. But be honest and be true because we're members of one another.
Erin: Man, that is so good. One of the things we say at Revive Our Hearts, a lot is that we want to have hot conversations—honest, open, and transparent. And sometimes that means painful. And sometimes that means we need to ask forgiveness and forgive. Sometimes there's anger involved, but we're having the hard conversations. And you're right. Conflict isn't evidence that our friendships are bad or need to be dismissed. There's evidence of a connection there.
So good, Kelly, I can talk about this with you for hours. You're always such a good guest. I do want to give one more shout out to Kelly's book Friend-ish. We're going to drop the link to make it easy for you to find. Portia, you're up.
Portia: Well, like two of my favorite people talking about like one of my most favorite subjects. I love everything about that interview. So, thank you, Erin. Thank you, Kelly, for bringing it home for us.
Well, I want to say this what if the extra space in your friendship isn't really caused by a global pandemic? What if it's caused by or maybe it's the result of bitterness? If you've ever been hurt by a friend. And listen, let me just say, haven't we all. Then you need to watch this video, and you need the wisdom that is found in what you're about to see. So, check it out.
Dannah: Can you think of a time someone hurt you? Jean knows what that's like. She remembers how a friend offended her.
Jean Wilund: She said something, and honestly, I don’t remember what she said. But it was just a silly little insult that I can't remember what it was. I just remember feeling insulted. How dare she. I could not believe she said it. It really was that embarrassing. And to realize like this is ridiculous, and I’m just being silly.
Finally, I knew what I needed to do. I wrote her a letter and asked her to forgive me. I knew enough not to say, “Please forgive me for the way I have treated you because of what you said to me.” I knew not to mention anything that she had done. It was just all what I had done, and I asked her to forgive me, and I mailed it off. A few days later, I got a letter. This is way before email and text messages. I got a letter back from her. I opened it up eager to read it. And it said, “I forgive you. You shouldn't have asked for forgiveness, for any I didn't start this. You did.” It's all crumpled up in the trash can. So, we're back where we were. I have no idea how to forgive this woman.
Dannah: Jean signed up for Revive Our Hearts conference with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth. To prepare attendees, Nancy asked them to answer this question.
Jean: Was there anyone that you were struggling to forgive? And I definitely had this one ex-friend. That's what popped up because I knew it was so petty. And yet, it just it grabbed me.
Dannah: The time for the conference in Myrtle Beach drew closer, and words like brokenness and revival kept coming up. Jean had some misconceptions about these terms.
Jean: Before I got there, I thought brokenness was just a bunch of broken people that needed prayer. And revival was a southern tent meeting, revival, shouting preachers, and all that. I had no idea what she was talking about.
Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth: What is the kind of heart that God revives? The heart that God revives is the broken, the contrite, the humble heart.
Jean: I had no idea what she was talking about. But she laid it out in the Bible and took us through what it really means.
Nancy: It’s a lifestyle of unconditional, absolute surrender of my will, to God.
Jean: And over the course of the weekend, I discovered how much pride lived in my heart. She just blew the walls off of that. I had no idea that I was actually somebody that was eaten up with pride.
Nancy: Proud people are self-righteous. They have a critical, fault finding spirit. They look at everyone else's faults with a microscope but their own with a telescope.
Jean: This was one of those moments where everything in my life changed. It just transformed my entire life.
Dannah: Once Jean embraced true humility and brokenness, she knew she needed to make things right with her friend.
Jean: In her mind, I had asked for forgiveness. So, we were good, but I really hadn't had any communication with her after that. So, I called her up and said, “Can we get together for coffee?” And then I told her the whole story. And there wasn't even an ounce of bitterness or anger towards her and we had a renewed friendship.
Portia: Well, I am so excited about this lady who is coming to join us. Robyn McKelvy is with us this morning. If you're Grounded sister who's been rocking with us for a while, then you know her and you love her. She is a pastor's wife. And I am sure she knows a thing or two about tricky friendships. So welcome, Robyn.
Grounded in Friendships, with Robyn McKelvy
Robyn McKelvy: Thank you, Portia. Good to see. I loved you guys having all your husbands on last week. It was unfair. Me and Ray wanted to talk about love, too.
Portia: We'll have to have you back.
Robyn: That's okay. But I love that you guys are talking about friendship. And I love some things that Dannah read from Hebrews and that Kelly talked about Ephesians. I'm going to bring a whole different perspective in that. I'm coming from Romans. But one of the things that Kelly said that is so amazing, is that we have definitely taken our cues from the culture.
And one of the things that I see over and over again . . . You know I have a lot of kids, and they keep me abreast on what's going on in the culture and in their age. And so, one of the things that I just don't understand is this thing called “cancel culture.” But I looked it up last night and Wikipedia says, “Cancel culture, or call-out culture is a modern form of ostracism, in which someone is thrust out of social or professional circles, whether it be online on social media or in person.”
Guys, that should not be what happens in the body of Christ. So, as we're going through in our church, Romans 8, I found some Scripture that really just puts it together in how we should be, as believers. And Romans 8:5–12 says this,
For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God's law; indeed, it cannot. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness. If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesusfrom the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you.
And so, I was talking to Ray. “Ray, what can I say?” Because I've had friendships over my life, some are for a season, some are for other seasons. But I've had one friend who's been a part of my life for over 50 years. I don't know how we've been friends this long, because we stopped at 49 and decided to hold there. But we've been in relationship for over 50 years.
And one of the things that is so neat about my friend, Rachel, is that we have had to fight for our friendship. How do we do that? Number one, we live over 500 miles apart from each other. And so you fight for that friendship by making conversation regular.
Number two, a few years back, I lied to Rachel about something. I wanted to appear that I knew it all. I lied to her, and I had to ask for forgiveness. I wanted to run from there, but the Holy Spirit kept me up all night, until I went to her and apologized for lying. And then I wanted to run from that relationship because it feels like it can't be the same. But over these last couple of years, this girl has loved me enough to make it the same. And so, I love that Proverbs 17:17 says, “A friend loves at all time.”
And I love how Rachel has shown me friendship. Now, these are some ways we've had to fight for our friendship. We send “thinking about you” cards all the time. And we do it for no reason at all. Guys, I tell you all the time, keep that stack of cards handy, because it's so important that you just jot a note, a physical note. We send texts a lot. But sometimes we need to hold the paper that says this friend loves me, just because.
Another thing that we do, we met in a city that's halfway from both of us to talk about stuff that's going on in our lives. And so, we spend some time praying, because if you have a friend, you need a praying friend.
And then finally, we call and we talk often. There's times and seasons where we don't get to talk that much. But we are fighting for our friendship, because we want to be able to pick up where we left off. And we don't want to leave off for too long of a span.
And then the other Scripture that I want to bring to you guys says, “Faithful are the wounds of a friend, but deceitful or the kisses of an enemy.” This is the kind of friendship you want to last forever.
There's been times when Rachel has told me about myself. And I've told Rachel about herself. And it's so important that we are the kind of friends that we want our friends to be. So be the kind of friend that will fight for the relationship with you. Be the kind of friend who always wants to be honest with you. And then finally, be the kind of friend who loves you at all times. I hope the whole church, the big C Church, is saying amen.
Portia: I am saying amen.
Erin: Me, too.
Portia: That was excellent. Oh, that was excellent. Well, we've got two resources to recommend to help you to keep fighting for your Christian friendships. First is a book that I love, and it's written by none other than drumroll . . . Erin Davis. It is Connected: Curing the Pandemic of Everyone Feeling Alone Together. Love that book.
Erin: I gotta say, I wrote that book in 2014. I don't think I caused the pandemic but maybe I did with that subtitle during the pandemic of everyone feel alone together. Hey, we also want to recommend a YouTube video of our girl Dannah Gresh look at her teaching at Revive Our Hearts’ most recent conference, Revive ’21.
Some of you were there, some of you work, but she gave this message on being grounded in community. Listen, this video is worth watching just to get a good view of Dannah’s jacket.
Portia: Well, I was looking at the picture like, oh girl.
Erin: I gotta find a reason to borrow that soon. But also, it was just really rich and really convicting actually teaching on this subject. So, it is your homework after this episode, I want you to check out that video. Of course, we'll drop the link we'd like to make it easy for you.
Portia: And here's a little inside scoop that her teaching will also be on air on Revive Our Hearts, that’s our main program, February 28 and March 1, so we encourage you to do that.
Erin: Which is next week.
Portia: You know what? Speaking of Revive Our Hearts conferences. Registration is now open for True Woman 2022. This is you know our Revive Our Hearts conference is coming up September mark your calendars y'all this is September 22 through the 24th. I want as many Grounded sisters there as possible so we can hug you and love on you and yeah, all the good stuff.
Erin: I actually think registrations is not quite open yet. That was bad. We've been working to get it open. I think it's opening this week. So, be watching that.
Portia: You know I'm ready.
Erin: Either way we watch it, because wouldn't it be cool for all the Grounded sisters to see each other, look each other in the eyes, give each other hugs? So, we want you at True Woman ’22.
Dannah: I want to say that the hugs are still fully available. If you do show up at that conference. We are not reneging on that. That's fully there for you. Hey Portia, did you see that Erin and I got the memo to wear royal blue today?
Portia: You know, I saw as y’all popped on camera when we were getting ready. I was like, “No, they did not tell me that they were going to match.”
Erin: Yeah, but you and Robyn were matched.
Dannah: Yeah, there you go. Okay, go we did not coordinate that on purpose, everyone.
Hey, this program has struck a nerve, the comments are flowing in. I just have to read this one from Ronky, because it has such a great idea. She said, “I hear you loud and clear on the friendship recession. I have 12 accountability partners. One for each month. I study the Word and pray daily with one sister from a different part of the world each month.”
Now, that's creativity. But it's proof that no matter what's going on in the world, you can stay in Christian community. And I love that. So, find a way stay in community. And for those of you whose hearts are hurting because there's some broken relationships, I hope you heard Kelly say this and Erin, conflict is proof of connection. It really is. It's proof that you still care. It's proof that your heart is still in it. Go to the Word and find out how to make that a healthy connection.
Erin: I'd like to see a whole episode on that. If that's true, like see a whole Grounded episode on conflict as connection. Let us know because I think we should do that. Sorry, Dannah, I cut you off.
Hey, next week, we’ve got another great episode of Grounded. We're calling it your dose of spiritual vitamin D. If you don't know, vitamin D is something that can really help you when you’ve got the winter blues. And winter blues or not, this episode's gonna be a great one. So, we would encourage you to watch it with us join us next Monday or catch the podcast on Wednesday. Let's wake up together with hope next week on Grounded.
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