C’mon in and have a seat! I have some hot beverages ready and some banana bread on the table, so let’s start with prayer and then talk…
Father in Heaven, I pray this tool is helpful to many as it has been helpful to me. I thank you for this opportunity to share what You have laid on my heart and may it reach who needs to hear this and apply it. In Jesus name, Amen.
Remember in our visit last week we talked about setting boundaries and such. I kind of feel like boundaries is getting over used and so I’d like to take a little different approach. Not that the phrase “setting boundaries” is not still completely relevant and acceptable. I just like to look at it in another variation.
I’d like to start with Jesus and His disciples. We had the following men:
Here we see Jesus’s circle if you will. These men were His trusted friends and He traveled with, AKA, did life with, these twelve men. They each had their respective rolls and talents to be used for the furthering of the ministry of Jesus.
But within this circle, we see that Jesus had an “inner” circle.
Mark 5:37 “and He allowed no one to follow Him except Peter and James and John the brother of James.” (ESV)
Jesus had a special connection to these three men within His twelve. He sought comfort and solace in the company of these select three. Jesus makes no apologies for having three close friends among the group. He treated all of them with love and respect, however this smaller trio held a special place in His heart. These were the three He called nearer to Him just before His crucifixion to pray for Him and minister to Him in a very difficult time.
Then we even see one extra ordinary relationship within the three. Jesus calls this one His beloved. It is John. This friend is closer than a brother. Jesus looks into John’s eyes while hanging on the cross and gives Him to His mother as a son to replace the one she is losing.
John 19:26 “When Jesus saw His mother and the disciple whom He loved standing nearby, He said to His mother, ‘Woman, behold, your son.’” (ESV)
This one disciple was so precious to Jesus that He wanted him to be a son to the mother He was leaving behind. Now that’s a close friend!
So, as we can see, it’s not un-Christ-like to have special friends within a group of friends. But let us not forget about the one disciple who betrayed Jesus. Judas, the one who sold Jesus for thirty pieces of silver. Sold Him to those who had malice on their minds and hate in their hearts. Do you have a sort of Judas in your life?
Notice that Jesus didn’t cut Judas off as a friend. He simply wasn’t in His inner circle and He let Judas do what he was set on doing and that’s all. Jesus did not bring Judas into the inner circle and my own imagination leads me to believe that He shared only what He had too with him. I don’t think there was a lot of personal sharing going on between Jesus and Judas. So we can still lovingly keep certain friends in our lives or even family members, and love them from a distance.
So here is my method…
I set up my circle of people on a target. The very outer ring of a target is where I would place friends who I converse with and see occasionally. They are not people I would share personal events or feelings with, ask to pray for me from, or ask advice from. While I value them as a human being, the closeness is lacking.
The second of four rings are reserved for friends who know a little more about what’s going on in my life and I may ask for general prayers from them but leaving out personal details. While I value them as a human being, there may not be full access to my heart.
Ring number three holds the friends I’ve had for a long time and I know that even though we may not talk all the time, I can ask their advice on certain topics and I can share a few more details of a prayer request such as names or struggles but still leaving out ALL the personal details.
The fourth ring is the Peter, James, and John ring, or more affectionately called the “PJ&J Ring”. These are the trusted friends that never let you down on the days it really matters. You can go to these friends with anything and you will not be judged, cast out, or shot down. These are your go to peeps at the end of a very long and faith shaking day.
Now there is the bulls eye dot in the middle of the target. The John spot. I feel like this could hold more then one person but that’s an individual choice. My husband is dead center of the bull’s eye and others come in around him.
Now let me clarify this… we are talking about earthly relationships here. Jesus reins supreme in my heart but outside of that, we are speaking of physical relationships we interact with in our daily lives.
The people in the bull’s eye have elite access to my heart and life for personal details on a prayer request. They will pray with me and for me. They know when to not ask too many questions and when more questions need to be asked. They will respect when I need space and not take it personally and they know when to come and knock on my door. They walk through the fire with me and know when to put out the flames from a distance. They come along side me, hold me up when I can’t take another step and run with me in excitement.
Truth be told, I’ve had to move people around on my target over the years. Some had to be moved from the fourth ring all the way out to the first ring. Some have had to be taken off the target all together. It hurts my heart to do that but it is completely necessary to have peace.
Some of these relationships were causing me physical illness, mental distress, anxiety, depression, sleeplessness… the list goes on. We can still value those people as human beings but they don’t have to have access to our hearts. It’s not un-Christ-like to love from a distance. It’s a much healthier way to maintain a relationship and not be bulldozed or any of the above-mentioned issues.
Thursday I’m going to send out a picture of a target that you should be able to print off and start organizing your friends. This has allowed me to not have so much angst about my relationships and still handle it in a loving way. I hope this will be helpful to you as well. Blessings friends… blessings.