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Storyteller. Grace Dweller.

I’m Jennifer — wife of an Iowa farmer, mom to two girls, new book author. I believe in you, because I believe in Jesus. You matter to Him, and you matter to me. more »

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Monday 29th February 2016

The Secret to Being the Best Kind of Friend

As a teenager, I logged many hours babysitting kids in our tiny Iowa farming community.

Early on in my babysitting “career,” my mom gave me a piece of advice that I’ve not forgotten. Mom told me that after I put the children to bed, I ought to go the extra mile by washing dishes, putting away all the toys, and tidying up before the parents came home.

“Always leave the place better than you found it,” Mom told me.

That’s a great way to treat a house. And it’s the perfect way to treat a friend.

What if we walked into every conversation, every lunch date, every Bible study room, and every Bunco party, with that attitude? What if we sought to leave people better than we found them? We could do that, you know. We could seek to leave people happier and more hopeful than they were before we showed up.

We could be the Charlottes.

You remember Charlotte and her intricate webs, don’t you? Charlotte was a spider who dwelt in the corner of a barn. She spun webs and words and kindness. She was determined to let a pig named Wilbur know that he was someone special.

We can do the same for our friends. We can bring good words and cupcakes and hot tea and hope. We can be the ones who are the kindness givers and the Kleenex-bring-ers and the joy donors when they are running on empty.

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It can’t always happen that way, of course. Because some days? We are the ones with the empty joy tanks. That’s when we need to open the door to find a friend on our front step — someone who wants to leave us happier than we were before.

That’s the cycle of true friendship, and it is fueled by each other’s commitment to the betterment of the other.

In Charlotte’s Web, Wilbur asks his arachnid friend: “Why did you do all this for me? I don’t deserve it.”

And Charlotte responds, “You have been my friend. That in itself is a tremendous thing.”

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This, I think, is the heart of Christlike friendship. It’s how we wash the feet of our friends, by looking out for each other regardless of who “deserves” it.

That is precisely what Christ did for us. He came to earth and is unequalled in living out that sage piece of advice: “Always leave the place better than you found it.”

Jesus did a lot of amazing things to make earth a better place. One of those things was showing us what it means to be a true friend.

“This is how we’ve come to understand and experience love: Christ sacrificed his life for us. This is why we ought to live sacrificially for our fellow believers, and not just be out for ourselves. If you see some brother or sister in need and have the means to do something about it but turn a cold shoulder and do nothing, what happens to God’s love? It disappears. And you made it disappear.” {1 John 3:16, MSG}

We don’t want to make love do a disappearing act. We want to make love the main event. We do that by looking out for one another, by being a friend, by doing what we can to leave this world better than we found it.

And like Charlotte said, that is a tremendous thing.

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This post about friendship first appeared on (in)courage, where I write monthly. (In)courage is “home for the hearts of women.” It’s a great place to be encouraged, every single day. I’m excited to tell you about a new club that (in)courage is hosting. We are going through Priscilla Shirer’s book  Fervent: A Woman’s Battle Plan for Serious, Specific, and Strategic PrayerThe book is both inspiring and challenging, and we can’t wait to see what God does as we join together to read it.

To join the book club, click here. 

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  • The world is just so much better with a friend. And the way to find a friend is to be one. 🙂
    Beautiful words as always, Jennifer.

  • I love this post – it’s so true, and yet too often we view relationships from the perspective of what we receive from a relationship or interaction, instead of what we contribute. Thank you for this encouragement! Happy to share this post.

  • I love this post! Thank you for writing your heart, Jennifer! You are a true, sweet friend! This inspires me to be a good friend to others. God has definitely blessed me with amazing friends! Sending you a really big hug!

There are days when you don't know if you can write another book. Then there are days when you remember why you do. Thank you, Tiffany! twitter.com/gulledgetiffan…