September 6, 2017
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God (2 Corinthians 1:3-4, NIV).
Friend to Friend
I am not normally a fan of boxing, but there is one boxing movie that I love – the first Rocky Balboa movie. Yep! It’s a winner.
One particular part of the movie really grabbed my attention. Over the years, it has produced layers of spiritual truths in my life. I know that’s hard to believe, but it’s true. Stay with me.
Here’s the story. Rocky barely made enough money to buy food and pay the rent on his truly disgusting and roach-infested apartment. Rocky’s job was to retrieve money for a loan shark. Translation? He was a muscle man and probably broke various body parts to collect past due loans for his boss, Gazzo.
But in his spare time, Rocky boxed. His good friend Paulie, a meat-packing-plant worker, let him practice his punches on the carcasses hanging in the freezers. Disgusting!
When heavyweight champion Apollo Creed visited Philadelphia, his managers wanted to set up an exhibition match between Creed and a struggling boxer, touting the fight as a chance for a "nobody" to become a "somebody." The match was supposed to be easily won by Creed, but someone forgot to tell Rocky, who saw the fight as his only shot at the big time. The fight lasted 15 rounds, and even though Rocky lost, sportscasters and the spectators went wild as the announcer shouted, “This was the greatest exhibition of guts and stamina in the history of the ring!”
Now that is dedication and commitment and perseverance … but not the truth I am going for. The truth that really hit me was tucked in a seemingly unimportant conversation between Rocky and Paulie. For me, it was the heart of the film.
Paulie’s shy and quiet sister, Adrian, worked in a local pet store where Rocky went almost every day. He said it was to buy food for his pet turtles. Seriously? He really went to see Adrian.
At first, Adrian shrugged off Rocky’s attempts to impress her and adamantly rejected his invitations to go out. Paulie could not understand what Rocky saw in his sister.
Paulie: [talking about Adrian] You like her?
Rocky: Sure, I like her.
Paulie: What's the attraction?
Rocky: I dunno. She fills gaps.
Paulie: What's 'gaps'?
Rocky: I dunno. She's got gaps. I got gaps. Together we got no gaps.
We were created to need each other – to fill in each other’s gaps – a truth that resonates in every relationship.
One of the main factors leading to my first major struggle with clinical depression was the profound absence of replenishing friendships in my life.
My pride kept me from admitting that I wasn’t Superwoman and really didn’t need anyone else. My insecurity held me back from reaching out to new friends and cultivating old ones. To admit my need of a friend seemed like a weakness instead of the precious gift that it is.
I refused to take the risk of being hurt, rejected, or misunderstood. I did not have time to invest in building intimate friendships because I was too busy doing the work of God.
And when the darkness hit, I felt isolated and alone. There were a lot of gaps in my life.
Friendship took on an entirely different meaning in my life from that point on. Friends are a great source of strength and encouragement in my life today.
Friends fast and pray for me, holding me accountable and confronting me when they see my priorities askew. I have one friend who will not hesitate to look me dead in the eye and say, “Stop it!” when my schedule is out of control. Oh, how I love that woman!
Friends make me stop and take time for fun. Friends have taught me to be transparent. Have I been hurt along the way? Yes. Have there been times when I have been misunderstood? Sure. Have the friendships been worth the price? Absolutely!
We need to celebrate the fact that we have gaps, others have gaps, but together … we got no gaps.
Father, I come to You today … gaps and all. I know how much I need You, but today, I admit how much I need others. Teach me how to be real and transparent. Help me learn how to tear down the walls in my life and throw away the masks I tend to wear. I want to be honest. I want to be a woman of emotional integrity who honors You.
In Jesus’ Name,
Now It’s Your Turn
- If you need encouragement, think of two people with whom you can share that need and make a plan to do so.
- Look for people in your life to encourage.
- Write a note of thanks to someone who has encouraged you.
More from the Girlfriends
Friends make life a lot more fun and a lot more rewarding. Yet, many of us struggle to find true friendship and don't know what it means to be a real friend. I Need a Friend is a six-week-study based on the lives of Ruth and Naomi. This study offers nine steps we can take to experience the vibrant relationships for which we were created. Check it out!
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