Hanging out with the right crowd?

Mary Cassatt--Friends celebrating life together

"Tell me what company thou keepst, and I'll tell thee what thou art." - Miguel de Cervantes (1547 - 1616) Spanish novelist.

There is a smile on my face and a happiness shining in my soul. Celebrating life with a true jewel of a friend this morning on her flowered porch, and I already know that china tea cups, fruit, candles and love will be waiting for me. Even last night I was already excited.

Finding a true friend is a treasure--one who, whenever I am with her, my love for God grows, my personal heart is affirmed, hope shines its light on my dreams, and my emotional cup is filled.

Many years ago, I remember Howard Hendricks saying how important it is to be around those who walk with God. And so, I made this commitment and wrote it in a life journal:  "Invest time with friends who build you up in all the areas of your ideals as often as possible. Cultivate them, affirm them, love them, invest in them.

Spend as little time with critical people, those who gossip, those who doubt and are always negative and drain your soul. You can only have so many drainers in your life at once."

And so, I have sought out friends who are loyal and walk with God. I don't get to see them often enough, but I do make anchors in my schedule for them because I need them. I invite them to my home, they invite me to theirs. It is a lifeline that has kept me holding on to ideals.

I also know that I must own the refreshment and restoration for my own soul as it is constantly being depleted on a regular basis--I am only happy and able to cope when I put back what has been taken away. Fun, beauty, pleasure is a wise investment for those whose life demands a lot.

And so, I am dressed up, made up, feel like a little girl going to a tea party--and that is really exactly what I am doing. I am going for a visit to my treasured friend. I will think about all the responsibilities later, as I know they will still be there. But this strategic meeting will keep me for faithful in the long run.


PS Guess I need to clarify a bit. I assume that my audience knows me, but I was not clear enough. Nowhere do I say that we are not to reach out or share with the lost or give sympathy to those who need it. I hope that I am able to give encouragement and grace to many, many all over the world, every year. I have committed myself to that. Yet, there will always be more "drainers", those who draw from my time, heart and soul), than I can ever take care of. The drainers who are God's will are my sweet children and husband and then inner circle friends--we take from each other on a regular basis. However, I must monitor how many I am willing to give myself away to, after them, or I will overcommit and be unwise in expending myself to a point of burnout. I am talking here to so many women I know--those who have given their lives to ministry and ideals and serving. But, I see so many women, like myself, who have few or little boundaries. There are so many lost and depleted and depressed and overwhelmed women in my life that I would just love to help. I do not want them to be alone or feel invisible at all.

But, I have had to learn that if I take on too many people and too many issues, I deplete all of my resources and then have so little to give. I have also learned the difference between women who are depressed and truly going through difficult and demanding situations and those who really are destructive in their relationships. But most of all what I wanted to communicate is that we need to hang around with people who help us to want to keep our ideals, to have as our inner circle those who live by faith, who walk with God, who have hearts of compassion, who spur us to a greater walk with God, so that we can keep holding fast to our ideals in a fallen culture and so that we will remain faithful. No one can do it alone--no one can keep giving and giving and giving without burning out, unless they make the time for Sabbath rests in life.

I am guilty of giving to a fault and then blowing my stack and I have had to learn as a leader that part of my responsibility is to refuel, even when my plate is overfull. Grace to all.