A Focus on Friendship

Author: Kimberley Mulder

My “one word” for 2017 is friendship. At the beginning of each year I spend some time listening to God and observing my journey thus far to discern what one word I am to focus my attentions for the upcoming year. It is always something that God is cultivating in my life, maybe pruning, but always bringing greater life.

To begin my year’s focus , I prayed about my friendships, and discovered a deep gratitude that rescues me from the seeping insecurities about them. When I forget to approach these relationships as God’s gifts I mire in doubts that others care for me, that I fail people too often, that people are rejecting me. These are fears founded on my sinful nature, for I do fail friends, but what God, and my lovely friends, are showing me is that they forgive me and love me.

In addition to cementing this foundation of gratitude for the friends I have, God has been showing me his friendship. I have found great delight in reading an account from the gospels as if I were there as His friend. I observe in my mind’s eye what is recorded, and His Spirit fills my imagination with details of the setting, with personalities of the characters, with words and actions that may have occurred. And I interact with Jesus, asking questions, listening, following and watching him. I am sure this imaginative imagery is not an accurate depiction of what occurred in real time 2000 years ago, however, through it Jesus is present to me as a friend!

One word FriendshipNaturally, I have to read a book or two about my “one word” and so I started with one on spiritual friendship – “Sacred Companions: The Gift of Spiritual Friendship and Direction” by David G. Benner. It is a rich explanation and exploration of soul friendship. These are the friends who nurture your soul and care deeply about your whole self. These are the companions God has given you on your transformational journey with Christ. They are vital gifts from God! The guidance in the book has already blessed my relationships.

Then there is the guidance I am giving my daughter regarding friendships and “friending” online. She is a pre-teen and her world is dictated by peers. We recently walked her through the positives and negatives of using social media, building her foundation to connect and care for her friends. We have given her expectations and guidance to treat everyone as she wishes to be treated even as she encounters peers who aren’t held to these same expectations. We are trying to give her the tools and abilities to build her ship with her friends to sail together through these adolescent years.

Friendship Kim MulThis leads to our family’s newest adventure in friendships. This summer we did not sign up for any camps or classes, we are not taking any trips and our schedule is REALLY empty. (Hear my gulp of faith mixed with fear that God will fill all these days with good things?) Instead, I have been telling every friend and neighbor to come visit us, play with us, eat with us. Come summer break, we will be issuing invitations regularly to hang outs, picnics, trips to the library, you name it. And reiterating to everyone to drop by which is counter-cultural, at least in our neighborhood. This is a giant leap of faith for me – one in which I think we will be learning quickly how to build and maintain our family’s ship of friends!

I urge you to pray over your friendships, to see them through God’s eyes, to find resources that infuse life into your relationships and will help you train your children to model true friendship to a world addicted to “friending”.


Readers, how could you work on a friendship today?

2016-11-02 13.10.06Kimberley Mulder is a contemplative at heart who deeply enjoys the company of Jesus in the day-to-day of caring for her family of 5 (plus a dog and a cat), teaching English to immigrants, growing her garden, and writing. Currently, her walk with Jesus is taking her more deeply into writing as she leads a spiritual formation group at her church, and records the reflections and connections Jesus gives her to share with others.  She treasures the truth that God’s Word does not go back to him without accomplishing the purpose for which he sent it, and that that Word is embodied in our lives. (Isaiah 55:11)

This Side of Wonderland

Author: Kimberley Mulder

When I was younger I lived off of Wonderland Road. It’s a long boundary road on the west side of London, Ontario, that unassumingly enters from corn fields in the north. It rolls down the best bike coasting hill, through countless intersections, over the River Thames, past gaping parking lots until again it trundles back out to the cornfields. There is nothing deeply wonderful about it, and London is a long way from Wonderland, but it’s there that my wondering began. 

God can take our wonderings, even our worryings, and use them to draw us close to Him.It is here that I grappled with the wonderings of youth: “Do they like me? Does he like me? Will she be okay? Why did they have to die? Who is God? Is He good? What should I do with my life?” I had moved to this beautiful old subdivision off Wonderland Road at age nine, but the map to identity seemed like it was hidden in Wonderland itself. 

This was as it needed to be, so that I could discover Wonder Himself. I took my questions everywhere and found answers at church, not at school. When I reeled in shock at the sudden deaths of friends in a tragic accident, I wondered “How could this happen?” My comfort came not in knowing why or how, but in knowing Him.

These words of the Heidelberg Catechism sprang to life from their deaths: “What is your only comfort in life and death? That I am not my own, but belong with body and soul, both in life and in death, to my faithful Savior Jesus Christ.” Into this assurance I dug deeper, wondering anew at each discovery and finding a new wondering underneath, until I found that the process of wondering and discovering produced true Wonder in my heart.

K Mulder WonderThat place of Wonder became homebase, became my rock to stand on, became the soil for my roots, became the “I” for my identity. Wonder welcomed me on this side of Wonderland. It is beautiful how God can take our wonderings, even our worryings, and use them to draw us close enough to Him that we stop wondering and simply sit in Wonder. Gone is the need to know and be in control,  what comes is peace in the unknowing as the Wonder of our hearts holds us close.

Had Jesus answered every question quickly and definitively (which is what I wanted), I would not have discovered the wonder of being with Him. Sure, I would have had answers but no relationship. A text book faith.

My faith would have been as boring and expected as the asphalt strip of Wonderland that bounds London. I think I would not have ventured far in faith or life (and what is the difference between these?), I would not have become glad in the humble place of not knowing. I would not have clung to Him but rather to the road. Jesus is the Way, but he is not a road. Do not cling to the path you are on, cling to Him – and He will lead you in all ways wonderful!


 Readers, How can you incorporate more wonder into your day? Take a moment to marvel at the greatness of our God.
2016-11-02 13.10.06Kimberley Mulder is a contemplative at heart who deeply enjoys the company of Jesus in the day-to-day of caring for her family of 5 (plus a dog and a cat), teaching English to immigrants, growing her garden, and writing. Though trained as a bassoonist for her undergraduate degree, she expresses her creativity now in gardening, cooking and writing.  Traveling to new places is a joy for her, including the challenge of learning a new language and trying whatever the local food is – even roast guinea pig and horse meat! And wherever she is, she spends as much time outside as she can. Currently, her walk with Jesus is taking her more deeply into writing as she leads a spiritual formation group at her church, and records the reflections and connections Jesus gives her to share with others.  She treasures the truth that God’s Word does not go back to him without accomplishing the purpose for which he sent it, and that that Word is embodied in our lives. (Isaiah 55:11)