I pedaled my bike at a slower pace than his. His hat was on backwards and his white tank top revealed the muscles of a man who worked out a lot. It was a hot July afternoon in the Central Valley, but the fact that my mocha blast from Baskin Robbins didn’t survive five minutes in the sweltering sun didn’t bother me at all. I was with Dean.
I remember thinking to myself, “If I can marry Dean, I know I’ll be happy.” He knew me for me. I didn’t have to pretend to be older than I was and I didn’t have to conceal my elementary sense of humor or absentmindedness. I felt like a bird let out of a cage … free.
That bike ride was over eighteen years ago. Dean and I grew up together, except he is six years younger than I am. Wrap your mind around that little fact! I didn’t start liking him until he was nineteen, and even that was hard for me to get used to. He still accepts me for who I am to this day, and he genuinely loves me for me.
A couple of months ago, I was feeling alone when it comes to relationships outside of my marriage. Typical friendships and the stress of life started to bog me down, and I had some long talks with God as to how to handle it. In the meantime, Dean was there to pick up the pieces of me and cheer me on like he does.
David & Jonathan
One afternoon, I was in the shower stewing over some things, and I took every anxious thought to God. One of those things, in particular, were relationships with friends. I have always wanted a David and Jonathan type of friendship. I mean, if you’re going to have friends, shouldn’t they be like David and Jonathan’s? If you aren’t familiar with their friendship, I’m almost tempted to tell you not to read about it. Your expectations for your friendships may skyrocket to an unreachable level.
As I stood there in the shower washing my hair, I complained to God about how He has never given me a Jonathan type friend. Let’s face it, Jonathan had more to lose in his friendship with David. He made the sacrifice. Jonathan encouraged David, cheered him on and saw God’s plan for his life. Don’t we all want a friend like that?
As soon as I prayed the prayer, the Lord quickened my heart and spoke to me, “I already gave you your Jonathan.” Immediately, Dean came to my mind and I was almost dumbfounded. It was kind of like walking down the street, and you’re so distracted by your thoughts you become unaware of your surroundings and run into a pole. Has that ever happened to you? Let’s just say it took me by surprise and I couldn’t get out of that shower fast enough.
God is right. Dean is my Jonathan and I barely realized it after eighteen years! Friend, I felt so awful. I ran to my husband and I told him what God had revealed to me. I have taken my husband’s friendship for granted for so, so long. What a shame. Don’t get me wrong, I love him dearly, but I have never thought of him as my Jonathan.
Why am I telling you all of this?
I am not trying to brag about my husband, although I will say he totally deserves all my praise. The man loves me like no other and I am blessed. But there is a reason I didn’t acknowledge Dean as the close friend he is … I was equating friendship with my girlfriends and not my husband. I had my eyes focused on what I thought I didn’t have when it was right in front of me all along.
So, how can we keep our eyes focused on what God has blessed us with and stop looking beyond us? It’s all in our perspective. Proverbs 4:25 says, “Keep your eyes focused on what is right, and look straight ahead to what is good.”What we focus on will effect how we see everything in our lives. If we focus on what we don’t have, it will divert our path.
Eve had it all, and her attention was diverted to a tree that would change her course from life to death. Her perspective changed as she stared at the one thing she didn’t have and she reached for it. All the enemy had to do was change her perspective (Gen 3).
Second, if we remain thankful for those in our lives, we keep our eyes focused on their worth. It’s become so cliche to come up with thankful challenges in the month of November. But we should be thankful every day, all year long. Paul told Timothy, “I thank God for you – the God I serve with a clear conscience, just as my ancestors did. Night and day I constantly remember you in my prayers.” (2 Tim 1:3). Paul thanked God for Timothy night and day. What a friendship! If we remain thankful for what we have, we find the value it adds to our lives.
Finally, and trust me, there is so much more to this than what I have shared, but taking others for granted is a heart problem. Gratitude and thankfulness come from a heart of thanksgiving. Psalm 9:1 says, “I will give thanks to you, Lord, with all my heart; I will tell of your wonderful deeds.” One of the signs of living in the last days is that people will be thankless (2 Tim 3:2). Why? Because their hearts are hard and their perspective is all wrong.
I want to challenge you today to look around at what God has blessed you with. Because they are blessings, my friend. What have you overlooked lately, or maybe there’s someone who has been there for you, and because they are a constant in your life you haven’t been focused on their love. Seek them out, thank them, and ask God for a heart of gratitude.
I want to remind you that nothing I tell you is easy. I only share with you what I have experienced as I stumble my way through life. But God has supplied every one of my needs according to His riches in glory and I am forever grateful. So I am impressed to share what I learn with you.
And I changed my mind about suggesting you read the story of David and Jonathan. Please read it. And as you do, pray for that kind of friendship. They only come along once in a lifetime. And if you’ll excuse me, I think I’ll go give my husband a hug and a kiss. Until next time, my friend!
Here are some links to FREEBIES just for you:
I Am Seen 5 day devotional
For the related podcast episode on marriage, click here.