God Altered My Life

God Altered My Life

I run a vinyl record shop, my husband’s hobby, which has greatly altered my life as an author. For years we traveled New England selling my books, meeting people, and encouraging them in relationship with God. We often discussed expanding these trips countrywide once our youngest was to graduate.

That’s all changed.

His sudden, fast-growing collection of records frustrated me. I felt I was supposed to be supportive, but it was nothing I cared about. I finally offered help, and we spent many nights checking, cleaning, and organizing all he was amassing. What was the purpose, I wondered?

Selling seemed logical. Chris joined me as a vendor at a number of fairs until it became too burdensome. I knew my life was at a crossroad. Years of marketing had come to an end. After seeking God’s direction, I offered my services, and we opened a store.

Chris and Rebecca Matthews stands in front of the Open sign in front of their new vinyl record shop, Chris's Nostalgia Shop

Chris’s Nostalgia Shop opened for business on January 29, 2018

During this transition, inwardly I was hurt. My publisher had already closed unexpectedly in the midst of projects. Now, with the loss of hands-on marketing, my dreams as a writer felt crushed. Though I wavered in my support, I trusted God.

We just celebrated the store’s one year anniversary!

In this time I’ve realized my relationship with God is more important than my writing being recognized, and I’ve become pleased with supporting my husband’s dreams, being available for my family, and writing encouraging content for others. Most importantly, with all the time I now spend focused on my Lord, I sense His powerful presence all the time. He’s at my center again, where He belongs.

Chris’s Nostalgia Shop was perfect for me!

You see, God knows what’s best, and while change always comes, I’ve found joy in being content wherever He has me. Let me encourage you. No matter what changes occur, perceived good or bad, trust Him. His will is best!

Is Friendship Essential to the Soul?

Is Friendship Essential to the Soul?

Is friendship essential to the soul? Essential, as a word, indicates something that is vital, fundamental, a lifeblood, or a necessity. Does this describe what a friend is or should be to us? I dare say we put too much value in creation and things of this earth, including people such as our friends.

When we value someone to the degree that they are a necessity or a crucial need in our lives, we’ve placed them higher than they should be. With a demand so strong, we risk hindering both our life and that of those we cling so tightly to.

What is the purpose of friendship, what part do we play as a friend, and what is our friend’s role in our life? Are we able to heal them when they’re hurting? Can we protect them when tragedy strikes? Do we keep guard when enemies threaten? Are we peacemakers when life overwhelms? Strength, wisdom, peace, hope, and encouragement are all sought from friends or expected of us by others. However, all of these are not, or should not be, our functions in life.

We’ll be sorely disappointed if we cling to another person and expect them to fulfill a role for us they’re not meant to. They cannot meet all of our needs. By letting our unfulfilled expectations be known, expectations that cannot fully be achieved by anyone, we impose the impression of failure on our friends, inflicting disappointment on them.

When we try to be the best friend, offering advice, giving guidance, and trying to be what we think others would want of us, we fall short, struggle to keep up the façade, and find ourselves stressed out and anxious. We can’t possibly be all to all or even all to one other person. It’s exhausting and leads to unhappiness in ourselves and our friendships.

Imagine if we treated friendships as freedom, allowing someone a safe place to simply be. We should listen without judgement or offering opinion. God’s whisper of direction can then be heard by our friend. We should treat friendships as an extension of ourselves by being present to uplift and pray with one another in times of rejoicing or struggle. Where two or more are gathered together praising the Lord a sacred space is created.

Friendships, true and unconditional in nature, I believe, are blessings from God, rather than essential to the soul. They offer dimension to our lives. They enrich the basics of living. Friends bring a layer to our humanity that feeds our personalities, challenges our comfort zones, and should keep us focused on God.

Don’t let friendships become exhausting.

God, however, is the One who is essential to our soul. He is our Creator, and He formed us with a need for a deep intimate connection with Him. We feel best, perform best, are healthiest in mind and soul when we live life as one with Him. It is God who should be our confidante, comforter, protector, and the source of our strength. These qualities of His are supernatural and become very powerful in the lives of His children.

As a friend, be there to encourage your friend to keep God, first and foremost, at their center no matter how difficult the circumstances. Be there to allow a safe place to vent. Not so that you can advise, but to let them hear their own voice and sense God’s response. We should rejoice together as God gives direction and praise God together as He comforts and imparts His peace during times of difficulty.

When we are that kind of friend, we grow in our own relationship with God. By directing others to the One who is essential to the soul, we are being fed as well. Our soul is filled to overflowing, and our friends benefit by that which overflows from our being, that is God. So, are friends essential to the soul? No, but a good friend will direct you to Him who is. Though we all want to be of value to someone, it takes a strong person to step aside and let God have that rightful place. He is essential to your soul.

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