How To Cultivate deep and meaningful friendships

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Jennifer (00:10):

Hi, and welcome to the Marriage After God podcast.

Aaron (00:12):

We're your host Aaron and Jennifer Smith.

Jennifer (00:14):

We have been married 15 years and have five sweet children who are growing up way too fast.

Aaron (00:18):

We love God and we love marriage,

Jennifer (00:20):

And we love to be honest about it all.

Aaron (00:22):

Marriage is not always a walk in the park, but we do believe it has a powerful purpose.

Jennifer (00:26):

So our goal here is to open up the conversation to talk about our faith and our marriage,

Aaron (00:30):

Especially in light of the gospel.

Jennifer (00:32):

We certainly don't have all the answers, but if you stick around, we may just make you laugh.

Aaron (00:36):

But our hope is to encourage you to chase boldly after God's purpose for your life together.

Jennifer (00:40):

This is Marriage after God.

Speaker 3 (00:45):

Hey

Aaron (00:46):

Everybody. Welcome back to another episode of The Marriage After God podcast. We're your hosts back at it.

Jennifer (00:52):

Be at

Aaron (00:53):

It. Be bag at it. Bag. Got it. . B bag. Get it.

Jennifer (00:56):

Oh, back at it. Back

Aaron (00:57):

At it. Here we go. Uh, . Today we're gonna be talking about discussing friendships. That

Jennifer (01:05):

Was kind of redundant.

Aaron (01:05):

I know talking about and discussing are both similar things, but we are, we're gonna talk about that, you know, cultivating deep friendships, the necessity of friendships. Also how it can be difficult in our relationships with our friends, um, but how it's all part of the process. And so that's what we're talking about today.

Jennifer (01:22):

This episode is brought to you by our free 30 day Marriage Prayer Challenge. Simply go to marriage prayer challenge.com to sign up and it's completely free. Over 130,000 husbands and wives have already taken this challenge. Join now and every day you'll receive an email with some scripture and a prompt free for a specific area to pray for your spouse. Just go to marriage prayer challenge.com and sign up today.

Aaron (01:46):

So we're, um, talking about friends.

Jennifer (01:50):

We love friends.

Aaron (01:52):

We have friends.

Jennifer (01:53):

We've had a lot of different friends over the years, just thinking about all the many places in the world we've been, We

Aaron (01:59):

Have friends in several countries, and, uh, of course we, we don't see all of them all the time, , but, uh, we have friends in a lot of states too.

Jennifer (02:09):

Yeah, I feel like I'm really grateful for all the opportunities we've had to cultivate friendships at different times throughout our marriage. And it just kind of blows my mind, Aaron. It's like no matter where we've been, no matter how long, like how long or how short of a time we've been in that place mm-hmm. , God has provided real friendships, deep friendships, but it was up to us to make the choice to invest into those relationships and what they would be like.

Aaron (02:36):

Yeah, I agree. I we've had many re relationships that we've had to invest in. Uh, but I also feel like that God's used all of those relationships, probably the, the most in our life to, to grow us, to mature us, to point out areas that God wanted us to change in. Um, so not only did we have the benefit of those friends for our joy and that closeness and connection, but also for our spiritual growth and maturity.

Jennifer (03:01):

Yeah, I totally agree with you. And I think that that happened because of the time we chose to invest into those relationships. And, um, you know, even when hard times came or challenges came, we, we used those opportunities to press on in love and to do our best to cultivate those relationships. And we weren't perfect at it. We, I feel like we're , we're kind say that a lot in every aspect of our life, but it's true. There were mistakes that we made at times. There were things we probably could have done to make friendships easier, you know? Yeah.

Aaron (03:35):

Or just being better friends in general.

Jennifer (03:38):

, just like in marriage when when you're in close proximity to another person, and there's sometimes that friction, you know, when our flesh just gets kind of like agitated. That's stickiness. Yeah. Uh, so anyways, that happens. But I feel like nostalgic, just thinking about our friendships over the years and all the laughs, the cries, the pranks we've done together, the catch phrases we've had, the adventures, the games, the games,

Aaron (04:04):

The staying up late,

Jennifer (04:05):

The hot tubs, the jacuzzi times discussions we've had. I mean, I'm just, I'm feeling very grateful for all of the different relationships that we've had.

Aaron (04:15):

Yeah. This topic actually, uh, came up from one of our friends. Mm-hmm. I was at, I went to Portland with a friend to go pick up a part for his tractor or something like that. And I was like, Hey, we need an idea for a topic. And he is like, Huh? He's like, Why don't you talk about like, relationships and friendships and like, how, how awesome they are, but how hard they are and how, And then we just started writing out, I was writing out all these notes and texting him to Jennifer while we were driving

Jennifer (04:38):

. So thank you, Cody. I know you're listening. Uh, Cody and his wife Stacy and all of their children, we have been good friends with them for almost nine years now. And it's one of those, like, it feels like family.

Aaron (04:49):

All of our kids have been like friends with their born together almost, and then have been growing up together.

Jennifer (04:54):

And our goal is to like grow together and live next door. So we're working on that.

Aaron (05:00):

Isn't that everyone's goal? They just want to have like this, like small community with all their friends living of, of course, every, you know, down the street.

Jennifer (05:06):

I don't know if everyone feels like that, but it's a good goal.

Aaron (05:09):

Yeah. All those introverts out there, like Yeah. Right. .

Jennifer (05:12):

Well, we thought we would just kind of ask each other a couple of questions about friendship and get the, the conversation started. And

Aaron (05:20):

I like, I actually like this format because when I've been, I was praying about this episode today and I was thinking, Man, I don't feel like I've gotta handle a grasp on this idea of like being a good friend. It's something that I'm constantly learning. And Fri friendships are hard at times, especially when you, you allow yourself to be so close. So I like that we're gonna be asking these questions, and I just want everyone that's listening to know our heart is to, again, we always to encourage you and to remind you that you're not alone. That God has plans for us and that he desires us to grow in, in oneness and unity with his body of the church. And so, hopefully just us going back and forth answering some questions, you glean something out of it.

Jennifer (06:00):

And my encouragement to you guys listening would be if you, uh, already have strong friendships in your life, our hope would be that this episode just inspires you with some creative ways to, uh, engage in your friendships and, and cultivate them in deep ways. And if you're listening and you already are thinking like, Man, I really want that. I want a deep friendship. I want, uh, friendship, like friendships of married couples where, you know, you and your spouse are friends with another couple, um, our heart and prayer is just that, that God would provide that for you and that you would be willing to invest in mm-hmm. those friendships and so all around. Yeah. We just hope that this is a good episode that encourages you.

Aaron (06:42):

All right. So let's get, we have some questions here, and then we'll just go back and forth. All right. Let's do it. So the, here I'll ask you the first question. Okay. What did friendship look like for you growing up?

Jennifer (06:53):

Well, I come from a big family and like my family's families were even bigger. And so I had a lot of aunts and uncles, a lot of cousins. Friendship for our family was our family. Like, there wasn't a lot of outside friendship. We were all friends with each other. And so as I grew up and I was going to school, like I started building friendships a little bit later mm-hmm. , like junior high, high school. Um, but yeah, that's kind of what it like most like hangout time or events, Everything was surrounded around our big family

Aaron (07:25):

. But you had a, you had a few core friends growing up. Yeah. Yep.

Jennifer (07:30):

Yeah. Like two, three girlfriends that I was close to. Yeah. I think maybe a few more than that.

Aaron (07:34):

I think it was, um, very similar for me. I had, um, not in the fr the family or actually opposite, um, we saw Yeah.

Jennifer (07:42):

Your family was, had a lot of friends.

Aaron (07:44):

Yeah. Our family had a lot of friends, and we saw our direct family periodically throughout the year. And so I saw a different example mm-hmm. . Um, but I had a, I feel like I had, I had two really good friends growing up. Um, and I'm no longer like that close with them anymore. We just, we've moved on. But that was my kind of experience was I just had a couple that we did everything

Jennifer (08:08):

, and really quickly I'll share, and I think I speak for both of us. We both had a desire when we were, you know, 18, 19, 20 to marry our best friend. And so when we met and started building our friendship, Aaron, we, we cultivated it knowing that we were moving towards marriage and there was this really beautiful aspect to our friendship, knowing that we were gonna be friends in marriage and I don't know about you. Yeah. I love that. Yeah. Even now, I feel like you're

Aaron (08:34):

My best friend friends first. Yeah. And it never changed. I feel like you are my best friend. Yeah.

Jennifer (08:38):

Good . Awesome. All right. Well, the next question is, what was your desire for friendship? So going back to childhood or growing up times. Like what, what did you seek in a friendship? What did you want?

Aaron (08:52):

Uh, I think that, so friendship was one of those things where I just could, could go be me and hang out with that person that I enjoyed being around. Mm-hmm. . And it was like a, it was a get outta my house, go to their house, whole new environment. Yeah. And

Jennifer (09:05):

Eat their snacks and their

Aaron (09:06):

Cap. They always had. Oh, that's like, they, they always had snacks.

Jennifer (09:09):

My friends always had better snacks than like, That's true. More

Aaron (09:12):

Like moon pies,

Jennifer (09:13):

. What? That's, that's them good. Sorry. I loved them.

Aaron (09:16):

No, I didn't have moon pies in my house. No. Uh, so my desire for friendship I think was more of like, just kind of escape, having my own my own zone. And my friends were that zone.

Jennifer (09:27):

I can't stop thinking about how gross moon pies are, but you know, it's good. oatmeal pies. It's

Aaron (09:31):

Gram crackers, chocolate and marshmallows.

Jennifer (09:33):

What's that gonna, I don't know. There's something about it, but oatmeal pies are really good. Okay. See's good to have differences in friendships. See, Yeah. so that only one person is eating all the moon pies. .

Aaron (09:44):

What was your desire for friendship? What did, was there something there? Oh,

Jennifer (09:47):

I'm serious again. Yeah, I'm getting back to it. Um, I really desired to have, uh, a closeness in relationship where you can share deep thoughts or, uh, experiences together. You know, go do things together, which I often did with my girlfriends, so I appreciated that. Yeah.

Aaron (10:04):

So some of these questions will, those are, these are kind of like, been past like, ways of viewing friendship, but the friendship we're talking about now goes beyond what we kind of used to experience it like in junior high, high school, like grade school. But we're talking about deep relationship mm-hmm. , friendship. Mm-hmm. , you know, with other believers. Uh, so what has been the greatest thing about those kinds of friendships?

Jennifer (10:28):

Can you answer that first ? Sure.

Aaron (10:30):

Uh, I, I would say I, I love, I love having friends who know me, who love me. Um, and that, that means they, they share with me things that they see weak, like weaknesses they see in me. Mm-hmm. , but also they, they just enjoy me mm-hmm. and want to be around me. And, um, and I, those are, those are really cool things. Yeah.

Jennifer (10:55):

So there's two things that come to mind for me. The first thing is when you're known by a friend, special things happen. So they get you your favorite drink at random times or they'll, you know, they just, they know you so well that they tune in to who you are and what you like. And that makes you feel loved and special and like, thought of, which I really appreciate in friendship. Yeah. And the other thing is spontaneity. So, you know, just the random, Hey, what are you doing for dinner? Come over and not really even needing to make a plan. That makes me feel like our, our friendship is so close because there's the reliance upon each other and like a camaraderie of let's do this thing together. Even if it's short notice. I don't know why. I just love that.

Aaron (11:37):

Okay. So we talked about the greatest thing and there's lot, probably lots of things we could talk about, like how great it's to have a good friend. But what's a hard thing about these kinds of friendships?

Jennifer (11:48):

The absolute hardest thing about friendship for me is conflict. And when I know that, that I've hurt someone or said the wrong thing, or wasn't very clear in a text message and I've made someone feel a certain way, negatively sense, Yeah. Sensitive sensitivity is that I really struggle with. Cuz I don't, I'm a, I, I want peace and I want love and I want joy and I don't want the hard stuff. And so when I'm confronted with the hard stuff and there needs to be a conversation or, you know, let's flesh this thing out, Even those, those things, even though those things are really good and God has his special way of working through us in those things. Mm-hmm. , it's really hard.

Aaron (12:29):

That's true. Um, I would agree. A an additional layer to it. Um, cuz I, I just, I don't, like, no one likes conflict. I know there's,

Jennifer (12:37):

Do you feel like you're okay with it? Like, uh,

Aaron (12:40):

I used to be a lot more like, Yeah, lets, let's argue and let's figure this stuff out. I don't like it at as much anymore. Um, uh, I think though there's a, there's a part of me cuz I, I have multiple friends and I don't like when there's conflict between my other friends and I have these friends and I'm like, do I, like, where do I lay in the middle of this? Oh, got. So I don't like that feeling. And so, but which is a, it's a good thing cuz then it caused me like, how can I participate in helping these friends mm-hmm. , which got you in that. That's good. Yeah. So, but I, I hate that. Yeah. It's just, it, I don't know if anyone is like, yay. You know, hard, hard times friends. Um,

Jennifer (13:18):

There's hard things about friendships. Yeah. All right. Uh, what is your initial reaction to conflict in friendship?

Aaron (13:26):

Uh, before I answer that, I feel like everyone's listening, these are probably what everyone is gonna relate to the most is these hard ones, which is kind of like, interesting to think about. Maybe I'm wrong, but, um, initial reaction to conflict. Uh, depending on the level of conflict. Cuz there's totally different gams. What's that? It's not even a word. I don't think. Uh, different like levels of conflict. Um, but when they're like hard conflicts, things that need to be dealt with, things that need to be flushed out and talked about. I think my first response is like, run away. Runaway. Maybe . Like, like I don't get that sense from you. I know, but I do, I feel like in this flesh it's like, I don't want to be here right now. I don't wanna have to deal with this. Why is this even here? Can

Jennifer (14:12):

I tell you what I think your initial response is? Sure. I feel like it's, Well, what does the Bible say? Well, what is God saying? Well, what, And you always

Aaron (14:19):

Bring it back. That's what I say out loud. inside though. I'm like trying to retreat into myself. But yes,

Jennifer (14:25):

I, the word that I thought for myself, initial reaction to conflict is escape. Like you said, runaway. Just this is too hard. Yeah. Which I think is normal.

Aaron (14:35):

It is. Cuz we,

Jennifer (14:36):

But not that we should do it,

Aaron (14:37):

It's, we want what, because really, we talked about this in a few episodes, a few episodes ago about living either in the past or constantly looking far ahead into the future mm-hmm. . And I feel like that retreat is, is less of a, I just want to escape the relationship, but more, more of a, I wanna run away to a time when this conflict didn't exist.

Jennifer (14:55):

Yeah. Like, can I have a time machine and go back?

Aaron (14:57):

Yeah. Can we, can we just like, just skip over this or go go back to where when it was like nice and comfortable and, and not hard. So I think, I think that's what the, that running feeling is. Yeah. That's my only, that's a guess. Okay. But,

Jennifer (15:12):

So why are friends important to you? Why do you keep 'em around?

Aaron (15:15):

Well, specifically speaking of this idea of friendships within the church, like walking in fellowship with other believers, um, it's, it's absolutely necessary. First of all, um, we can't, we can't be autonomous islands floating around. That's not what god, that's not what Jesus came to do is create a bunch of independent islands that float and he came to, to make a body, you know, and a bride. And so these friendships and the necessity of them and cultivating them and digging in and being transparent and working through the hard things mm-hmm. and, uh, it, they're just absolutely necessary in my opinion, to the body of Christ to us as individual believers.

Jennifer (15:59):

So you keep mentioning, you know, having friends within the fellowship and within, uh, you know, church settings. But we're also like, this also ties into having that friend that you, that like your best friend, like someone who's very close to you or another couple who you guys walk to together with like, Right. Like you're, It's all encompassing.

Aaron (16:23):

Yeah. There's, there's always gonna be, I feel like there's always gonna be like these, these circles and they, they kind of go out overlap. Yeah. And they overlap and, um, I feel like there's always gonna be probably that, that one or two friends that you feel the most comfortable going to, but often those are also the ones that end up having the hardest situations, I think cuz you're so close mm-hmm. and so intertwined. Um, but I think as a, as believers not just being, not, not just being satisfied, but not just saying that, Oh, I have my one friend and I don't need anyone else, Really, We need each, all everyone. And so learning to not just always lay the burden on that one friend or couple, but do doing that, making things known, but also knowing that we can go to others in the body Yeah. And, and use each other in a good way. Not a bad use, but,

Jennifer (17:16):

Well, the question is, why are friends important to you? And that's what I was gonna say is, uh, what did you just say before? You said use, I got thrown off of that. Go to going to each other and you know, just having that friend that you can text and say, Hey, I'm having a down day. I need prayer for this, this, and this. And so I think friendship is important because it's, uh, supporting one another through life. It's experiencing life together. And I think God created us to walk in a place of unity in those types of relationships. Mm-hmm. . And so, I don't know. I get really encouraged by having friends in my life that are close to me so that I can reach out to them and talk with them and be encouraged Yeah. By them and encourage them. Yeah. It's like a back and forth.

Aaron (18:03):

Well, and it's a, it's also important because it's one of the main ways that we practice being the church is to each other. Mm-hmm. , um, Jesus makes it very clear. And the, and the Bible itself makes it very clear that our unity, our oneness as a church, um, as a bride, as a body is a message to the world that says God sent Jesus and that Jesus rose from the dead. Mm-hmm. that like, that's what the Bible teachers. And so that, you know, our friend's important. Yes. It's not just that we have this, you know, surface level friend, we have deep real fellowship relationships mm-hmm. in the body of Christ to practice being Christ's body with.

Jennifer (18:43):

Okay. So what do you think makes you a really good friend?

Aaron (18:47):

Well, me personally, I am always a really good friend and, uh, actually contradicts exactly what I said in the beginning. That's why I'm learning how to be a good friend. . Um, what makes,

Jennifer (18:56):

Like, what, what's unique about Aaron? If I was gonna have a friendship with Aaron, what?

Aaron (19:01):

Oh, you literally wanna know what makes uniquely me a good friend. Yeah. Okay. Um, I think there's, I I have, if you were to ask the same question about like, the opposite of what makes me the bad

Jennifer (19:13):

Friend, that's the next question is, what makes you a difficult friend? , do you answer that? Didn't notice that. Do you wanna answer that one first?

Aaron (19:19):

Well, I was gonna say that I tie together, I have strengths and weaknesses. Okay. And some of my strengths when not used appropriately are my greatest weaknesses. And so I can be very strong and forward and, and, um, uh, what's the word? Uh, confident in my way of thinking. Mm-hmm. . But if I'm not careful, that comes off as arrogant and rude and I, and as if I'm not listening. I'm Jennifer, you've never experienced that in our marriage, have you? Mm-hmm. for me. Mm-hmm. . Yeah. Probably not. Mm-hmm. , um, . But I, it comes off as as that. Um, but on the sa at the same time, that could, that's a, I think a, a good thing when I'm using it well Yeah. To exhort and to encourage and to remind my friends of the truth. Um, and I,

Jennifer (20:08):

I think that's accurate. Yeah.

Aaron (20:10):

There's another word, um, that I've always used is benefit of the doubt. Mm-hmm. is it, I've had seasons where I'm not that great at it, but giving the benefit of the doubt, trying to overlook offenses, trying to overlook, which has also gotten me in trouble. But that is something, like I said, greatest weakness, greatest strengths. Okay. I don't know, does that make sense? Is everyone listening? Like,

Jennifer (20:30):

Yeah, I get that. If I was gonna answer this, when you're kind, kind of tying those two things together. Greatest weakness and struggle. Mm-hmm. , what came to my mind is I feel like I'm a really thoughtful friend. Like I have all these thoughts of like, Oh, that this thing would make a really good gift. You are for my friend. Or Okay. But my weakness is sometimes those thoughts stay thoughts and I'm not very good.

Aaron (20:52):

They never come

Jennifer (20:53):

Out of you. Well, I'm not, I'm not so great at the execution of my thoughts and my intentions. And so sometimes maybe I think I'm sticking up.

Aaron (21:02):

You take the, it's the thought that counts to a whole new level. All I'm having is the thought . I'm

Jennifer (21:07):

Just kidding. There are times that I do follow through and those are really great times. And if I could do it more, I think that's, that would be a good thing. Uh, but yeah, that's mm-hmm. , I don't know. Yeah. Okay.

Aaron (21:19):

Yeah. And then there's times that you overthink,

Jennifer (21:22):

Oh wait, something overthink. Yeah. I should, Yeah. . That's so true. Okay, moving on. Do you like the one on one time or group time? So this would be like, Hey, I'm gonna go have coffee with my best friend. Or us as a couple are gonna go hang out with this couple, or this family's gonna hang out with our family. What do you like All the

Aaron (21:41):

Above?

Jennifer (21:41):

Yeah, I know you do.

Aaron (21:42):

So I can You love your friends. I like all of it. I like the one on one time. Like I said, I just got to go on a, a quick trip round trip with my friend Cody. And those are always really awesome times cuz we just get to talk and kind of download and vent and share and encourage and, and just remind each other of things that we've may have forgotten about, um, and in our lives. And um, so that's really good. Helps me. It's, that's, I feel like that's an easier, uh, thing to do. Mm-hmm. . Cause it's only engaging with one person. But I also just love group time and group conversations cause I'm there. Um, I usually get into trouble in the group times cause of the way I communicate. That's,

Jennifer (22:22):

I like all of it too. All the above. That's an easy answer.

Aaron (22:24):

You like the um, the one time when you get just me, just you

Jennifer (22:30):

Two. I am my best friend. Yeah. No. Um, okay. What is your favorite thing to do together with friends?

Aaron (22:37):

Um, go to dinner. . I like eating good food with my friends.

Jennifer (22:43):

That's fun.

Aaron (22:44):

That's a real thing. I do

Jennifer (22:45):

. I like it when our friends come over for dinner cuz then all the kids just play and it's easy.

Aaron (22:50):

That's true. and I love it. And

Jennifer (22:53):

Also like, camping with friends.

Aaron (22:54):

You know what we, I remember we used to not like, we were so apprehensive about camping in the beginning , but we have, we've fallen in love with camping and it's so much fun with friends. Yeah.

Jennifer (23:03):

Because our kids are getting older too. Like our kids make it really fun.

Aaron (23:05):

Yeah. Cuz they go do fun things and get dirty and it's awesome. Yeah. So I just, I wanna get into this idea of like, do we even need these deep relational friendships that, that like this fellowship with one another, This idea of like, do we need that or is it okay to just have surface level relationships?

Jennifer (23:24):

Well, I'm gonna start with a verse Proverbs 1824 says, A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there's a friend who sticks closer than a brother.

Aaron (23:33):

Um, so you actually removed my other verse that was on here. I had two versions of this. Yeah. There was a,

Jennifer (23:39):

Maybe I left it down here.

Aaron (23:41):

Did you? Cuz I wanna read both of them

Jennifer (23:43):

Right here.

Aaron (23:44):

So this is the new, the new King James version of that same verse says, and I, I'm just surprised at how different they're, But there's a reason a man who has friends must himself be friendly, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.

Jennifer (23:59):

Okay. That is way different. And I was, I was looking at this verse thinking, Okay, if I have too many friends then I'm gonna ruin everything. But if I have just like one or two close friends, then that'd be really good. So I was maybe reading into

Aaron (24:13):

This is, no, this is exactly why I wanted to share both versions of it. Cuz I was, I was trying to distinguish and understand why they're both there. Cuz they do sound so different. But they're not comp they're not contradictory. Yeah. What it's saying is that if a man of many companions may come to ruin this idea of you have a lot of people in your life, but no depth, you're, you're gonna come to ruin. And then the other version says, if you have friends, you must be friendly. The idea is like, how are you investing in these, not just companions, not just people that walk next to you, like you're, you know, let's go for a walk. But like people that you actually engage with. Um, and so I think both have a, it's, it's why it's a good reason to, to look into multiple versions of script of the Bible. It helps you get a bit more round idea of the, the topics. But they both essentially mean the same thing. You can't just have a bunch of people in your life that you have no relationship with. Those are just companions and you're, you actually are alone being deceived thinking you have friends,

Jennifer (25:16):

But, but the word friend, like that means something. It's special. Yeah. It's not just a neighbor, it's just, it's not just someone you know that you see every once in a while. Mm-hmm.

Aaron (25:26):

. Well, Jesus calls us his friends, he says, You're no longer servants, you're my friends. Mm-hmm. . And if you were servants, I wouldn't tell you, you know what I am discussing with my father, but since you're my friends, I share freely with you. Mm-hmm. , Jesus even displays this idea. Like when you, you're not just having this service level relationship, you're known, you're, you're opening up and being known and sharing mm-hmm. with one another. And so I would say we absolutely need deep friendships. Jennifer and I were kind of having a little back and forth on this in the beginning of like, our friendships actually necessary. And I, I think it's an absolute, like, I don't think you can do without it.

Jennifer (26:09):

And I was say in the church, I wasn't disagreeing with you, I was saying for the sake of our listeners, if there are people who for whatever reason, don't have deep friendships, I didn't want anyone to feel like, What do you mean they're necessary? You know, like I, I want, I want there to be understanding and love and peace and Well,

Aaron (26:25):

And I do understand that. And my heart would be that those people would long for that. Yeah. And find that and find that connection and, and be plugged in. Yeah. That's like a term that a lot of churches use. Be plugged in. What, what does that mean? Plugged into what? The body, the body of Christ. Um, First John, the, the majority of that, the first couple chapters of that is about how we love each other. And if we walk in the light, then we have fellowship with one another. And if we don't, then we're deceiving ourselves and we're liars. And the truth is not in us. Um, Jesus even he prays specifically for his, for the, for the disciples and for those who believe in his name, because of the disciples that we would be one just as Jesus and the Father are one. So you can't be one with the body and not have and, and not be friends with the body.

(27:12):

Mm-hmm. . You can't be one with the body and be a floating island that has no, no depth of relationship. No one knows you, no one gets to dig into your life and you dig into their life. That's, that's not, that's not reality. That's called a free radical. Like if we're thinking body, like when you have a cell that's just kind of moving around and not doing what it's supposed to do. Mm-hmm. . So I, I would say fr deep, deep friendships and relationships and fellowship in the body are absolutely, uh, and necessity. I'm sure there can, people can disagree with me, but that's my, my my feeling on this .

Jennifer (27:46):

Okay. Um, okay. Well, cultivating deep friendship is not an easy, uh, task. It's not, it's not, it doesn't come natural for all. So, you know, how do people do this? How do they cultivate a deep relationship? A friendship, Especially when, you know, it's not easy to relate to each other or there's differences.

Aaron (28:10):

Yeah. I, It's hard. . I think, uh, I think the first thing we need to recognize is that if we're going into frien, if we're looking for friendships for merely what I'm going to get out of it.

Jennifer (28:23):

Yeah. Like, is this person gonna benefit me? Bless me, serve me, love

Aaron (28:27):

Me. Yeah. They, they match my personality. They're in my same life stage, which those are good things and those help create friendships. But if all you're looking for is they make me feel comfortable. They, they bless me when I'm around them. I feel good. Which I'm not saying those are bad things, but if that's all we're looking for, the moment that changes what happens mm-hmm. , you're gonna assume, well, this is no longer for

Jennifer (28:49):

Me. Or if you meet someone that has the potential to be a close friend, but you put up a wall because it's immediately difficult or there's differences or,

Aaron (28:58):

Or you're afraid of difficulty or different, like you're defen, you're defensive against them, then you'll never, I don't wanna be hurt.

Jennifer (29:04):

Yeah. Then you'll never know or invest in that potential relationship.

Aaron (29:09):

Yeah. I think about Jesus and he invited 12 men to follow him for three years. They eight, slept, laughed, worked, traveled, fought . Yeah. Uh, ran from mobs, prayed over. People saw miracles. One of those men was Judas. Jesus invited Judas knowing full well who he was and what was gonna take place in his heart. And I think sometimes we, if all we have is a selfish motivation of our friendships, then there's always gonna be be this, this protection of only as long as I don't get hurt. Hmm. But what that's saying is, is don't ever do anything to hurt me otherwise.

Jennifer (29:51):

Yeah. We kind of have that perspective in marriage sometimes we have that wall of absolutely like, Don't hurt me, don't touch me. Don't do that or else, you know. Yeah.

Aaron (30:01):

And I, and it's okay to not wanna be hurt. No one likes being hurt. Jesus wasn't excited about being hurt, but he did it out of obedience to cr to God. He did it for his bride. And so that, that's where the sacrificial love mm-hmm. comes in and I, I wrote up here, how do we move past the honeymoon stage? Mm-hmm. of friendships and he brought up marriage. There's a honeymoon phase of like, everything's fun and beautiful and, and lights and easy and exciting and new. And then you, you that slowly fades away when reality had said, people don't have time to for you like you want them to. Well

Jennifer (30:38):

There's that friction

Aaron (30:38):

Or they forget about you because of things going on in their life. Or like the, these are real things or there's an actual offense. Yeah. You did something, said something, they did something, said something. And that honeymoon phase is it just dissipates. And then you actually are stuck with like, am I going to still love this person? Am I going to pumble myself and ask for forgiveness?

Jennifer (31:04):

What have we experienced when we've moved past that honeymoon stage in our friendships with others and have overcome the conflict or the hardship or the challenges? Well, I think, what

Aaron (31:15):

Do you experience? I think just like marriage, like the longer you're in it, the more, the more we overcome these difficulties, these hardships, you look back and you have a more vibrant, more strong, more trusting, more powerful marriage. I think that's the same with, with our relationships in the church, with, with other believers, with friend, with our friends is you, you become stronger for it. You, you there. There's a, I think if, if you, if we can get past these hard things in love and forgive and not just kind of pretend and hide mm-hmm. , but like actually like address and actually deal with and actually reconcile, there's, I think those friendships become stronger. Mm-hmm. , that's, I think that's the ideal perspective.

Jennifer (32:00):

So, so in marriage when you know there's conflict or you know, difficulties, you kind of have that whole covenant thing to hold you together and be like, well, we're married. So a good point. We got to do this. Where in friendships sometimes, and maybe I'm the only one here, I doubt it. You get tempted to think, well I can let this go. Well I don't have to because I'm not in a covenant. So how do you take those things that come up and you know, your flesh tries to justify, like, is this a sign that we shouldn't be hanging out together or is this some sort of, you know, warning or, you know, does God really want me to fill in the blank? Yeah.

Aaron (32:41):

Can you answer that? Well, I think there's uh, there's definitely not the same covenantal relationship that a husband and wife has where you, you don't have that. Same thing with friends. We do have a level of obligation as Christians. It says, you know, oh no and no and oh no. And anything except the outstanding debt of love to one another. So we do out of o obligation in the body of Christ that we are to love one each one another. Um,

Jennifer (33:05):

But with that you're saying don't give up easily,

Aaron (33:07):

Don't you? I would, yeah. I would say our, our, our, I would say currently in general, the disposition is yeah, easily give up. Like, I'm gonna move on. I'm not, and this probably people in here that are like, no, I, I fight. And so I, I I think there are that, those people in the church. But I would say it's definitely easier in our flesh to wanna avoid, wanna move on, wanna not have to deal with the messiness. Especially with everything else in our life that we have to deal with. So not making it easy because we love that other person mm-hmm. , right? So we don't just first offense like, oh, I'm outta here, but like, we like, hey, I wanna actually walk with this person cause I love them cuz maybe they didn't recognize it, maybe they didn't know. But I also wanna say there are times when we do get to walk, we should walk away from certain relationships. We can still love them in Christ. We can still want the best for them. We can still pray for them. But like having a but at a distance,

Jennifer (33:58):

Like having a healthy boundary, knowing that for whatever reason that specific relationship is, is toxic in a way or is, is not healthy.

Aaron (34:07):

Well, but only after trying

Jennifer (34:09):

To testing it.

Aaron (34:10):

Cause it tells the word also says do everything you can that within your power to be at peace Right. With all men. So if you, that doesn't mean you can't, or that doesn't mean you can what the everyone mm-hmm. . Yeah. So if you've tried, if you've, if you've attempted, if you've prayed through it, if you've, if you've walked through it and you, and you're like, you know what, this is nothing's changing, then I would, I I would say absolutely. Like there's, there's good, good cause to separate Yeah. From a relationship. Like there's no covenantal obligation. But I think as believers that we, we shouldn't make it easy to do

Jennifer (34:43):

That. Can I throw you a curve ball?

Aaron (34:44):

Absolutely.

Jennifer (34:45):

Maybe I'm the only one thinking this. Maybe not. So what happens if, let's say you and I have a friendship with another couple or family and I'm finding it difficult and I'm pulling away saying, I really don't think that we should, you know, continue on in this relationship, but you are really, um, excited to carry on the relationship and build that friendship. And so it becomes a thing between us and the marriage. You know, when, when there's one spouse for it and one spouse that's not for it. How do you navigate that?

Aaron (35:17):

That's a hard one. Um, I, I, I, I, I'm first and foremost, there should be prior to given to your spouse. And so there should be lots of discussion and prayer about those relationships and what that means. Yeah. So I don't have a cut and dry answer of like, That's good. I just want bring another Yeah.

Jennifer (35:34):

Prayer, discernment. Yep.

Aaron (35:36):

Sometimes fasting, and just lots of prayer, uh, to make things work sometimes.

Jennifer (35:42):

Okay. Since I'm really good at asking questions. Here's the next one. , Can we get too comfortable in our friendships? What does that mean? , you're just going through the motions of like

Aaron (35:53):

Well, I think the comfort, um, I, I think there could be a level of forgetfulness. Yeah. Like we just assume like, Oh, they're great, We're great, Everything's great. They're busy. I'm busy. Okay,

Jennifer (36:05):

Cool. What's really hard about that is come to find out for months they've been suffering or struggling or, and there wasn't open communication and why was that happening? Uh, but one thing that we really wanted to share with you guys today is an encouragement, uh, to ask deep questions in your friendships. Be willing to ask how are you really doing? And pressing into that. Mm-hmm. , how is your marriage doing? How's parenting going?

Aaron (36:29):

Yeah. I had, I had lunch with the friends today and the first thing, How's your marriage ? That was the first thing he said to me.

Jennifer (36:34):

. And, and then being honest to respond. You know, Um, how is your relationship with God? Is there any sin in your life that you're struggling with? How can I be praying for you? Yeah. Like, these are questions that you can't just say yes or no to. They have to be explained. And I think what makes asking these questions hard to do is if you're not willing to share on the other end to be asked in reciprocation. So think about these before you ask them, but be willing to ask them, which means you're willing to answer them.

Aaron (37:03):

. Yeah. And I think we can also get too comfortable in a way, not just necessarily asking important questions, but I think we can also at times speak to our friends maybe in a inconsiderate way, maybe cuz we're so comfortable. We're kind of just like, we just, we're speaking, we're, we're venting. We're, we've had that forgetting that they're, they're people mm-hmm. that here are the things that we're saying and receive them. And I think that could happen. I, again, I, that's one of my weaknesses is my, the, my tongue, the way I, the way I speak sometimes. Mm-hmm. can hurt people. So this next one, um, I'm gonna ask and, and also give an answer to it. Um, because I, I think it's, in the church it can be easy and in actually in real life, in any part of life, to connect the quickest and the closest and the, and the most intimate with people similar to us, they think like us, they're in similar life stages. Kinda makes it easy. It it's very easy. Um, but what, how do we as the church, recognize that we can also pursue relationships and friendships in the church with people who love God, who aren't exactly like us

Jennifer (38:19):

Mm-hmm. and enjoy those friendships

Aaron (38:21):

And enjoy them. Yeah. Um, and I'm, I'm thinking like maybe they have a slightly different worldview. Uh, maybe they have slightly different perspectives on and biblical beliefs. Mm-hmm. because that, this is just the reality in the church. There's so many different Yeah. Like caveats Yeah. That people have. Um, and I'm not saying on the main things, but I'm saying like the little details, um, can we have deep friendships with those people? Should we be having our minds on those people and thinking, I'm gonna go out of my way cuz I want to get to know this brother for the same purposes. I'd get to know any other person mm-hmm. in the church. I

Jennifer (38:57):

Think everyone's shaking their head in agreement, but also thinking, Wow, that's hard. , you know, that's Yeah. Extra.

Aaron (39:04):

Yeah. There's a, there's a few verses I wanted to read cuz I, I do think we should, I think, I think we should at times and often go out of our way, out of our comfort zones mm-hmm. to befriend and to walk with and have fellowship with oth all in the church as much as we can. We may not be able to have deep, intimate relationships with everyone, but we should at least try. Mm-hmm. , we should at least reach out, see how people are doing, connect, be friends with.

Jennifer (39:29):

That was the example that Jesus gave to us. Like he didn't do his ministry by himself. He invited others to, to come alongside him.

Aaron (39:37):

Oh mean, Yeah. Even even duns of the little children. Yeah. The, the disciples like, get these children out here. He's like, whoa, whoa, whoa. Let the little ones come to me. . Uh, so second Corinthians 13, 11. Finally, brothers rejoice aim for restoration, comfort one another. Um, and in the new King James version that says, um, strive for harmony instead of aim for restoration, but strive for harmony, comfort one another, agree with one another, live in peace and the God of love and peace will be with you. And then in Philippians 1 27, only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ. So that whether I come and see you, or I am absent, I may hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel. I think that this is should be the, the baseline disposition for us as Christians in the church.

(40:31):

That we don't just, Well I have my, my handful of close friends because we're all in the same life stage. It's this very, this is easy. That's good to have that. But that we, we see the others in the church that aren't like us. We see the others in the church that are in different life stages than us. We see that people in the church that are different age ages as us and we say, I wanna be with one spirit with them. Mm-hmm. and I wanna strive side by side with them for the faith of the gospel. Mm-hmm.

Jennifer (40:58):

, the verse that comes to my mind when you are saying this is um, like iron sharpens iron mm-hmm. and how the coming together of friendships really stirs one another up to understand more about life and about God's word and about what's happening. And I'm just always encouraged by what it means when friends come together and experience that. Yeah.

Aaron (41:23):

In faith, and I know we talk about this in a way that like, almost like we've figured it out. I promise you we have not. It's something that God is constantly teaching us things and constantly, even today we're talking about our relationships and saying, Lord, how, how do we cultivate these better? Mm-hmm. . And so, um, my friend Cody also mentioned a, a idea for this topic is what kind of example are we showing to our children? Yeah. On how to be good friends mm-hmm. . And so we just wanted to, this is for all of us. It's not just to our children, but these are some things that we can be practicing in front of our kids with our, our friends. Mm-hmm. , um, things like learn to apologize quickly, which, which in turn means that we recognize that we need to apologize. Not just being oblivious to our, our ways of being and

Jennifer (42:15):

Forgive. Yeah.

Aaron (42:16):

Forgiving. Yeah. Cuz we tell our, our kids all the time, Forgive your brother, apologize to your brother , um, being patient, are we patient with our friends or are we short and like, oh, you don't mess up again or else, or, or I can't believe you did that, but are we patient? Like, oh, maybe they just had a hard day. Oh maybe they didn't mean that. Mm-hmm. , like that benefit the doubt

Jennifer (42:36):

Thing. I would also add showing them, um, how to invest and make time for friends. Like having them over for dinner or helping them in an emergency. You know, like those types of experiences always make me feel closer to another friend when we can rely on each other or make plans together. Um, hearing randomly from each other and, and when you can just be in each other's presence without that obligation of feeling like you have to entertain or host mm-hmm. , you can be yourself and be loved. Like the, the kids are paying attention to all of

Aaron (43:05):

That. And speaking of example to our children, um, the example that we could be giving to our friends is when we, when we walk in these things, we're being an example of how we would want them to be a friend to us. Mm-hmm. , that whole golden rule thing. Yeah. Love your neighbor as yourself. Do unto others as you would have them do unto, unto you. If you would want them to recognize quickly that they need to apologize, then do that. If you would want them to be patient with you, then be patient with them. If you would want them to reach out to you and check on you, reach out to them and check on them. Reach out and say how, what's going on? How are you doing? Can we catch up? Can we get lunch? Can I bring you a coffee? If you would want someone to bring you a treat and just remind you that they love you, do that.

(43:48):

Mm-hmm. . Um, and then the last piece I wanna add to this is we've dealt with this. When we go through hard things, when we are struggling with a sin, when we're struggling with, uh, frustrations, angers, anxieties, all these things, it's easy to to, to retreat into ourselves. Isolate, isolate. But the, we should do the very opposite. We should because we always think like you're going through something, why didn't you tell me? But, and then we have a hard time doing it. We can be an example in reaching out and saying, I'm struggling today. I'm mad at my husband, I'm frustrated with my wife. I need prayer in this area. And I'm not saying do it to gossip cuz that some people are probably listening saying, Wait a minute. I'm saying, if you have those close friends that you trust and, and that we would reach out and say, I'm not okay right now, Please pray for me, or please come over, or can I come over? And that shows an example of what we would love for them to do because we would, if you, if you truly love someone, you want them to let you know when they're having a hard day, when they're struggling. So you can be like, Hey, how can I help? So I just wanted to end with that little bit.

Jennifer (44:57):

That's good. Um, if I was gonna end with something I was gonna say, and, and obviously our kids are still young, so I don't have the fruit of this to prove to you guys or anything like that, but something that I really care about is that my friend, my kids feel like they have friendships within, uh, the each of their re relationships with each other. And so if you're a parent of multiples, um, knowing that you have an opportunity every day to set the vision for your kids of what friendship can look like when they're older. And that can be as simple as saying things like, you know, when you're older, you're gonna call up your brother and ask 'em to go to lunch with you. And just giving them like this anticipation for what friendship will be like when they're older and, and encouraging them to start now by how they communicate and how they interact with each other. And I've been trying to do that in our kids' relationship. So again, I don't know what will come of it, but I think we're all pretty friendly in our family. We're

Aaron (45:54):

Trying. Yeah.

Jennifer (45:55):

So

Aaron (45:56):

We, we have our days, so we hope that encourage you guys. It was just a quick conversation about friendships, um, quick. It's like 40 minutes or something like that. .

Jennifer (46:05):

But it has been a message that has been a core value of ours and a message that we've promoted over the years, just amongst friends that yeah, we should be cultivating these relationships. It's a, it's important thing to us. Yeah.

Aaron (46:19):

So why don't we transition into the challenge and then we'll pray for you guys. All

Jennifer (46:22):

Right. Well, um, it's called a weekly challenge because it is challenging. So , if you didn't make it through last week's challenge, that's okay. No one's gonna judge you. , we

Aaron (46:31):

Forgive

Jennifer (46:32):

You. We also did not make it through last week's challenge, but that's okay. So, um, we just wanna encourage you to take up this week's challenge and see what comes of it.

Aaron (46:42):

Maybe add on last week's challenge too, and just keep it going. There

Jennifer (46:46):

You go. We don't wanna burden you guys. , take from it what you can. Uh, this week's challenge can be done with your spouse or you can do it together with some of your friends. But it's just initiate a deep conversation, share about fears or doubts, share about your dreams for your marriage or your family. Um, share about what God's been teaching you or showing you through his word.

Aaron (47:07):

Love it. It's a good challenge. It's good.

Jennifer (47:09):

It's it.

Aaron (47:10):

So babe, why don't you pray, press Okay.

Jennifer (47:13):

Dear Lord, Thank you for the gift of friendship. We pray we would grow in our ability and willingness to invest in our friendships. We pray we would cultivate our friendships as we care for others and share our lives together. We pray we would be a light to our friends and seek to be a blessing as we choose to serve them. Lord, please show us how we can be praying for our friends. Please show us how we can be encouraging our friends when conflict or uncomfortable discussions arise. We pray our Holy Spirit would help us navigate these situations with grace and love. We pray we will always communicate in love with our friends. We pray for good friends who we can rely on and we pray that we would be reliable Friends when we feel insecure in our friendships, please lead us in finding peace in those relationships. We pray your will would be done in us and through us. In Jesus name, Amen. Thank you for joining us for another episode of the Marriage After God podcast.

Aaron (48:01):

If you found today's episode fun and encouraging, please take a moment to share it on social media or in an email to some of your married friends.

Jennifer (48:07):

Also, would you please take a moment and leave us a review, reviews help to spread the word about our podcast.

Aaron (48:12):

Be sure to subscribe so you never miss an episode and you can always check out more of our resources@marriageaftergod.com.

Jennifer (48:18):

You can follow us on social media for more marriage encouragement on Facebook and Instagram at marriage after God at Husband Revolution and at Unveiled Wife.

Aaron (48:26):

We hope you have an incredible week and look forward to sharing more with you next week on the Marriage After God podcast.

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