I love that. Because it’s relatable to friendships and how they are born when we tune into what lights us up and what breaks our heart.
If you’re looking for a change, for more authentic friendships in your life, this post is for you.
Using your gifts.*
That means “paying attention to what touches your soul so deeply that tears come out”, as Emily likes to say.
Your gifts, in use, are an incredible avenue for others to experience connection and friendship. And when your gifts are lavished on someone else, in the areas where your heart breaks, in the situations and circumstances that move you — fellowship is born. And dare I even say, our world can change?
Is it nature?
Is it orphans longing for home and family?
Veteran’s suffering from PTSD?
Clean water for impoverished villages?
Funding cuts to art and music education in schools?
Teens living in poverty?
Those struggling with loss and grief?
What riles you up? What infuriates you? What warms your heart? What fascinates you — in movies, books, life experiences, stories?
Make time to explore, pay attention, and write down what moves you. Make your list over breakfast or as you unload the last dish from the dishwasher.
These things light me up: cooking, creativity, connection, nature, sharing meals with others.
And these break my heart: suicide, loneliness, brokenness, strained relationships.
Fostering friendship is all about looking for opportunities (and creating them) to combine your gifts, passions, and stirrings of your heart.
As I look back on the movies and experiences that awaken my soul there’s a thread beautifully woven throughout. Take the movie Dan in Real Life for instance. Several generations of family gather at a beautiful cabin on a lake. There’s awkwardness, fights, love, laughter, and many conversations over meals. The movie Lars and the Real Girl hits me in that same place. A community surrounds a lonely man struggling with mental health issues with love, care, and support. And in The Homesman? It’s a dreadfully sad and brutal movie but one scene in particular undid me. The main character, Cutty, is charged with brining several mentally ill pioneer women into a town, away from the wild prairie, to be cared for. One woman carries a doll and pretends to feed her. Instead of treating ‘doll woman’ poorly and telling her she’s crazy, Cutty pulls a thimble from her pocket, fills it with water and offers it to this woman’s doll. That’s compassion. That’s hospitality. That’s meeting this woman where she was. These movies make me bawl my eyes out.
In the book, The Secret Life of Bees, there’s much of the same — mothering, food, help, community.
Onto real life? I’m shaped by the hours I spent in the kitchen with my parents and grandparents. My time as a camp counselor, teaching art to kids, sharing meals and daily life out in nature with them — that moved me. Living in the dorms on campus and caring for 50 residents as a resident advisor — that moved me. It was hall dinners and games, late night conversations, life transformations and growth, friendship and community on steroids.
Pulling from those experiences helped me meet new friends in my community. Through art, hikes, gifts of food, and shared meals – I’m building friendships.
New connections form through Art & Eats retreats that I plan with my friend Kristi, the meetings I attend and events I plan on the Arts Place board, the community Bible study I visit (with a basket full of muffins).
You get the idea. Notice what moves you, notice what brings tears. Begin pressing into those areas that stir you and fascinate you. Because when you use your gifts to serve others — you’ll be making new connections that turn into fast friendships and blessing our globe for the better.
If you already know — share in the comments below some of the things that move you and break your heart. And if things are still a little fuzzy for you — let’s talk. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll sort through it together.
*Prayer works wonders for fostering friendships too!