Anne Of Green Gables is a delightful movie you should watch as soon as possible if you haven’t seen it! It’s a refreshingly sweet story of both friendship and romance. I learned what a “kindred spirit” was from this movie. My own definition of a kindred friendship is one that just happens – you can’t force it – both of you just “get” each other. It’s a friendship that just clicks. You get this sense you’ve known each other forever and that you WILL know each other forever.

Most of us have many acquaintances, some close friends and a few kindred spirits in our lives. Many friends come and go through the seasons of life – but the kindred friends survive the seasons and when you get together, they pick up from where you left off as if 10 years were 10 minutes. Don’t get me wrong – these are not effortless relationships. As a matter of fact, I believe that the strongest of friendships are the ones you have to go through some hard stuff with, proving your commitment and loyalty and showing that you’re not going anywhere.

I find it fascinating that my BFF – Shannon – is one I share the kindred label with – but also one who could not be more different from me! Let me explain: she’s a blonde; I’m a brunette; she’s an introvert, I’m an extrovert; she thinks, I talk; she exercises, I eat; she’s skinny, I’m not; she does things slowly and steadily, I do things fast and chaotically. Twenty years ago we became close friends quickly and I attribute that to nothing other than the definition of kindred – it just happened. We coined a phrase when we were first getting to know each other, “Delighting in the differences!” We would bump up against something that showed how different we were and we’d laugh and say that phrase and move on. However, as time went on and the newness wore off – that phrase was often pushed through clenched teeth. And this, my friends, is what I call loving by faith!

Shannon became one of those people in my life who knew the good, the bad, and the ugly! Our friendship deepened as we vulnerably shared our struggles as well as our victories. I began to realize that our differences didn’t mean one of us was wrong as much as it meant that we were just different. So we could choose to fight and try to win or get our way – or we could delight in the differences and love one another the way we are commanded to. I wish I was referring to really big important aspects of life – but more often than not, our squabbles were and are over something stupid like whether or not a guest bed should be cattycorner in the guest bedroom. I’m not kidding. We’ve gotten into an argument over that more than once! Even the way we connect with the Lord is different – she starts in the Word and I start with music and my journal. I never knew there was any other way to connect with the Lord! Her way isn’t wrong – it’s just different than mine. But the key to our friendship is that we DO connect with the Lord, which gives us the ability to love each other IN SPITE OF our differences during the times we are “delighting” in them!

God didn’t say, “Delight in your differences,” but He did COMMAND us to love each other. You can read that command right here:

“Jesus replied, “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.” (Matthew 22: 37-39)

Y’all, we are commanded to love each other. And this kind of love is not always easy or natural – I would even say that it is often more supernatural. Meaning, when left to our natural love – we can be selfish, needy, jealous, competitive people! But when we love with a supernatural love – the kind of love that only comes from the Holy Spirit in us – we are able to love the way God commanded – unconditionally. The bible calls this kind of love agape love and it means love with no conditions – not: “I’ll love you if… or I’ll love you because…” but “I love you — period.”

I am deeply grateful for the friendships God has placed in my life and how they have shown me tangible expressions of God’s unconditional love for me – in spite of me! It is most often the friends with whom I must choose to “delight in the differences,” who help me grow in self-awareness and in Christ-like character because they love me enough to tell me when I’m being hard to love. Hopefully they continue to love the rough edges off of me and help me become easier to love in return! One of my favorite verses of all time is Proverbs 27:17, “As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend.”

We’d love to hear from you about how you are learning to love others better!

* Share about how your friends have challenged you to be a better person or how you’ve seen God use friends to sharpen you.

* Why do you think it’s so challenging to see past the differences and to delight in them?

* What do you observe from the following verses that convicts, encourages or motivates you to love others with God’s love?

Romans 12:9,10: “Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good.  Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other.”

Philippians 2:1-4, “Is there any encouragement from belonging to Christ? Any comfort from his love? Any fellowship together in the Spirit? Are your hearts tender and compassionate? Then make me truly happy by agreeing wholeheartedly with each other, loving one another, and working together with one mind and purpose. Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too.”

Millie Welsh, Executive Director

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