My husband, Darrin, mentioned in passing, “I find it strange how they wear their sunglasses, even after the sun sets.”
New to the little league scene, we signed up our son in the eleventh hour and somehow got placed on a team of families who all happened to live in an expensive, gated community six miles up the road.
I found myself spending hours every week sitting on the bleachers with these baseball moms. (Those of you with baseball kids know what I mean about notoriously long practices and even longer games.) Their conversations ranged from the carat sizes of their diamonds and the number of times their house cleaners came over each week, to cosmetic surgery and updating their kitchens. It was not unusual for one of the moms to comment on the shirt of the woman sitting next to her, and then pull out the tag to see the name of the designer. All these topics were shared from behind sunglasses long after the sun dipped behind the hills surrounding the baseball field.
The more time I spent with these women, the more I found myself preoccupied with the size of my own diamond and what tags lined my shirts. As a result, here’s one life lesson I learned from hours by the baseball field:
We become like the people with whom we spend our time.
Like Jesus, Paul modeled an important truth of the Christian life: God calls us to walk with Him in the company of like-minded believers. Paul makes this clear as he writes to the church at Philippi about Timothy and Epaphroditus, two friends who’d become more like family. These men linked arms with Paul as fellow workers and fellow soldiers intent on sharing the gospel (Philippians 2:25).
We are not designed to live out our faith in isolation.
The longer we walk with God, the more we understand through hard-won experience how life does not often match our preconceived plans. Paul writes this epistle to the Philippian church in the midst of challenging circumstances. Like Paul, we learn that while following God’s will is extremely worthwhile and rewarding, it’s also utterly mysterious and sometimes flat-out hard.
This is why the people we choose to surround ourselves with play such a critical role. Whether in good times or in bad, you and I thrive most when we have Paul, Timothy, and Barnabas relationships in place (Acts 9:27). We need mentors like Paul to teach us and challenge us to grow. We need friends like Barnabas to walk with us, shoulder to shoulder, as we encourage one another on in love and good works (Hebrews 10:24-25). And we need to invest in friends like Timothy, those who are younger in age or in the faith.
Let’s take some time to evaluate our current relationships. Who are our kindred spirit friends, those who remind us of the Truth and can help restore an eternal perspective (Philippians 2:20)? Do we surround ourselves with others who walk by faith and live by the Spirit? Are we invested in people who invest in us too, friends who will lovingly return our gaze to our true home in heaven?
If so, thank God for these relationships! Reach out to these friends with heartfelt appreciation and gratitude. And if you find ourselves in need of these relationships, pray for God’s abundant provision, for He is faithful.
Father, thank you for friendships with those who help us stay the course walking day by day with You. Thank you for how you use people to set our hearts back onto eternity and truth. Thank you for reminding us we are not alone. Amen.
Vivian Mabuni is an author and speaker, and a sushi, white Christmas lights, coffee-with-friends-lover. She has been on staff with Cru (formerly Campus Crusade for Christ) for 26 years and serves with Epic Movement, the Asian-American ministry of Cru. Vivian is the author of Warrior In Pink: A Story of Cancer, Community and the God Who Comforts.