The pile of tissue paper and cardboard kept growing. I looked around in amazement, unable to believe all the care that had gone into packing the china pieces. Each of them had been separately wrapped in layers of tissue, with cardboard pieces between the individual items. Unwrapping the beautiful plates and saucers, I thanked my husband repeatedly and marveled over their beauty.
My husband had returned from a business trip to Korea with a complete set of china for our home. Each of the white pieces had a one-inch border in navy blue, with pink and yellow floral designs. The edges of the plates and design were all trimmed with gold. The pattern was just what I would have picked for myself. The pieces were valuable, and there was a complete set. Four boxes to unpack. But best of all, it was not my birthday or anniversary or other such event. He had seen them, and thought I should have them. I cried and waited until the next day to prepare a shelf in the dining room, and then hand washed and dried the pieces.
As I carefully put them away, I began to compare this lovely china to people. How rare it is for me to treat people with such care as I gave these fragile pieces. If only I would wrap others in tissue paper made of love. If only I would keep a special place in my life for my friends. If only I remembered to thank God for the people that make my life so valuable.
I prayed that God would give me the ability to be a better friend to those around me. I have difficulty knowing where to appreciate people; after all they don’t always appreciate me. I looked in Scripture and found a verse that I often quote, but seldom really understand. John 13:34 tells me, “A new command I give you; Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” I came up with some ways to strengthen my relationships with others.
Acknowledge the Source
We must acknowledge the source of those around us. People are meant to be blessing from the Lord. The friends we have were chosen just for us and our needs by God, who loves us and gives use every good and perfect gift. When we see this and remember to thank god for those around us, we will begin to treat them as though they mattered. Thanksgiving is the first step to being a friend.
View Each Other as Fragile
We need to view each other as fragile. Each of us as individuals tends to act as though we are invincible, without any needs. Then we treat each other the same way. In reality we are like precious dessert plates that unless handled with care, can chip crack or even break. When we love one another, we should use the “tissue paper” of care to prevent damage to them.
Give Them a Special Place
Friends should have a special place in your life. They need to know they have a “shelf” that will be there for them. This gives one the security to know that they matter, even when they don’t measure up. As a friend you may need to schedule time, or change and activity that you had planned. You may also need to say “no” or “I can’t help you today.” The friendship will remain; it will just be different.
Use Our Friends
We are to “use” our friends. When my husband gave me the set of china, and I had them all “put away”. I was content, for a while. Eventually though, I wanted to open the glass doors and use the dishes. I had company over so that we could eat on them. That wasn’t enough, so I used them again with my family. That was great. One day I ate breakfast on them while I was home alone. The dishes are to be used. Friends are to be used. They are not just a Christmas card list, or a reference on a job application. They are not just for greeting on the street, or asking the time of day. They are meant to be known. Look at the people around you who want to be known by you. Talk to them, do things with them, and their needs to God for them. People are like fine china, but much more valuable.
1. Thank God for your friends. List names of friends out loud as you pray, and acknowledge their contribution to your life.
2. Pray for your friends, and for specific needs they may have.
3. Give your friends the benefit of the doubt. Put the best construction on a problem, or concern.
4. Forgive each other.
5. Try not to clash, but when confrontation is needed, do it with love, so that your friendship remains intact.
6. Take time for each other. Often we don’t have the closeness, because we don’t take the time.
7. Teach others how to be a friend. Friendship can be passed on from generation to generation