The Problem of Pleasure

Why is there so much good in the world? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

We have all seen the problem of evil trotted out. Why would there be evil in the world if God is all-powerful, all-knowing, and all-good? This is a good question and I have addressed it many other times before, but let us consider something else.

If evil counts as evidence of the existing of God, shouldn’t it also go the other way? If all the evil counts as evidence against God, then could we not say “If the world is a random accident with no intentional cause whatsoever, why is there so much good in the world?” This isn’t a question original with me. It’s one that was asked by G.K. Chesterton.

Chesterton said that we all know that we have to eat in order to survive, but that doesn’t mean food had to be tasty. We have to drink to survive, but that doesn’t mean that water had to be refreshing. We have to reproduce in order to survive, but the intense pleasure that comes from sexual reproduction didn’t have to be there.

The world could also exist in black and white and odds are it would have worked just fine. However, there is a huge multiplicity of colors. As a gamer, I remember when the Super Nintendo was being advertised that it was said to have 32,000 colors. It was impressive for many of us when we got a Crayola box of crayons that had 64 colors. This is 500 times that.

What we have to ask is if the world is mostly evil with some bits of good popping up every now and then, or is it mostly good, with evil being the interruption to it. There is suffering in every life and I know this firsthand with a lot that I have gone through, major surgery, intense depression, and divorce, but overall, I am convinced the world is mostly good. This is my Father’s world.

Ah, but I live in America and I have food and shelter and technology and so many other blessings. What about the rest of the world? However, what is said about the rest of the world often is those people often take their faith far more seriously and have a lot more joy than we do. There’s a reason there’s such a joke about first-world problems.

There are Christians in Iran who are getting baptized and doing so knowing that that can lead to their execution. When I read Craig Keener’s Impossible Love, I remember reading about the attitude of Keener’s father-in-law and thinking that I wish I had the courage that he had. He was definitely facing realities that I had never faced, such as being on medication and having to escape from a civil war and being forced to eat rats when there was nothing else.

So again, what’s the point in all of this? If evil counts as evidence against God, shouldn’t the opposite be true? Shouldn’t good count as evidence for God? After all, if you are looking at data, you have to look at all data. If the universe has no intent behind it and no purpose, why should I think good would just happen? Why should food taste good or sex be incredible?

As a Christian also, I should give thanks for the good in the world more often and not take it for granted. I should enjoy time with good family and friends and appreciate the little things as well. Actually, that would be good advice for all of us, and if Lewis is correct, the more we enjoy true pleasure for the sake of that pleasure alone, we are more prone to come to God anyway. Perhaps if you focus on evil, you will be further drawn away.

So if you’re an atheist now, here’s something to think about. How do you address the problem of pleasure? Is there more good or evil in the world?

I leave that to you.

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)

Steps of Healing: Friends

What are friends there for? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

As I sit down to write this, I think about Saturday morning cartoons. Mainly, I think about when I was growing up I used to watch Garfield and Friends. What was the theme song of it? Friends are there. You can see it here. (On a side note, once when my mother was watching Rhoda, I recognized the voice of Carlton the Doorman as that of Garfield.)

As a gamer also, friends have always been an integral reality of that world. Every Final Fantasy game has a main protagonist, but that main protagonist would not have a chance of saving the world from the evil if he didn’t have his friends with him. In most RPGs, friends are part of the party and they are absolutely essential. Friends are the ones that come alongside and join you on the quest and risk death itself for you.

Friends are very different from family. I expected my family to be there for me in the divorce. It was not a shock that they were. I realize not all families are like that, but mine is. Family are sometimes thought of as people that you really like because they’re family. If you didn’t know them, you probably wouldn’t care.

Friends are different. Friends love you by choice. Some friends are closer than others. Sadly, social media has really lowered the term. I have nearly 4,000 friends on Facebook. Many of them I do not know at all. Sometimes people will ask me if I know someone and if I say no they can say, “You’re friends with them on Facebook.” That doesn’t mean much.

However, friends have been invaluable in this journey. Many have come alongside me and said that they have gone through a divorce or are going through them. I have had so many requests that I haven’t had the time to talk to all of them.

Some of them due to location have been of greater benefit to me. A friend around here that I can go out to eat with or go to a movie with can help me in ways that a friend hundreds or thousands of miles away can’t. I have one in particular like this that I have really got to bond with in this time.

Friends have been such a great help to me in that they give me someone I can be weak around easily. You could say I can with my family, but it’s just different. They love you in a different way and in many cases, my family wants to take care of me in a way my friends don’t.

I have said before that things like a game night can mean so much. When I play a game like Final Fantasy XIV, I’m able to forget about many of my problems for awhile. I have a different goal I can focus on. Now I am trying to level up my character and get through this dungeon.

I remember one friend gifting me a game around the time of my birthday. That was really nice to have. Some people have joined me on Patreon which is also awesome. It tells me I’m not walking alone. Many people just have sent me messages and sent me their phone numbers and said they’re available to talk.

It is why I have ended my blogs talking about fellow travelers. I’m not walking this road alone. That doesn’t mean there aren’t times that I am lonely. When I go to bed at night, it is very lonely. It’s my hope to soon be earning enough through Patreon and a job to move into an apartment and be able to be social and hopefully also start doing the podcast again.

So maybe you’re someone close and you’re there and we can do things together. I’m thankful for you. Maybe you’re at a distance and offer me your phone number and want to talk. I’m thankful for you. Maybe you have sent me a gift or provided for me financially. I’m thankful for you. Maybe all you have been able to do is pray for me. I’m thankful for you.

I have also been pleased as well to see my non-Christian friends show up in support. I hope you will come to Christ, but I also hope that in my life and handling of this, I have been someone who you see as a true Christian handling defeat and still trying to treat my ex-wife honorably, which I fully intend to do. I am thankful none of you have also used this as an opportunity to go after my Christianity. I am happy to debate its truth with many of you, but a thread about divorce is not the place for that and that has been recognized.

I said early in this blog that Final Fantasy games for the most part would be impossible without the party. Many of you have been my party members joining me to fight in this battle. I want to be clear the battle is not against her. It’s against the pain and rejection of divorce and against evil in general. Thank you for coming alongside me in the battle.

Thank you, fellow travelers.

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)

 

Divorce and Friends

Do I get by with a little help from my friends? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

If there has been one great blessing in all of this, it has been friends. Sometimes, when I post a message of sadness, my friends are right there. So many of you I wish lived nearby. It’s very hard for now to find people in this area I can hang out with and yet another reason I want to earn enough to move out.

Friends have been there and I’ve had to rely on them in ways that I never have before. I remember well a friend around here taking me out for Mexican one night and talking about things in life, especially my desire to remarry someday and how he had to tell me, “Nick. You are a guy. Stop beating yourself up for being a guy.”

Many a friend I have called when I have been in a bout of depression and not known what to do. When I first found out she had the money to file, I was crying my eyes out and had to call a friend from DivorceCare. My friends have accepted that I have been weak.

Sometimes I fear that people not in ministry look at those of us who teach and/or lead in some capacity as people who have all the answers and our lives are just great. This is not always so. Many a time, we struggle. I do not have all the answers. My life is not always together. There have been times I have had to take multiple medications to get to sleep due to anxiety attacks in all of this and since I should be getting health insurance through work soon, I plan to go see a psychiatrist.

I also do not have shame in saying that. I know when I need help. I know my emotions can get out of control at times and my anxiety can be overwhelming. If I have to be on something, even if it’s for a season as I work through this, that is fine. Too many Christians in the church look down on this way too much.

Speaking of which, not all my friends in this have been Christians on here. Some have been non-Christians who are still showing love and support. I know a number of intellectual opponents could be tempted to use something like this to make a cheap shot against me. I am thankful that these skeptics of Christianity have not and I hope they are seeing Jesus in me in how I endeavor to treat my ex-wife in all of this.

I have a small group of friends who have experienced divorce and I call them regularly. Many times I can be at work and need to talk to someone on the way home. You see, my job doesn’t do much to challenge me intellectually and so I spend a lot of time brooding over matters. I wind up being more depressed and I am not pleased with where I am in life.

Fortunately, I also do have others to call and I plan on trying to do that more often when I’m not listening to audio books. I also have a friend who I knew in Elementary School who wants to get together with me again. I would like to do some meetings with a group of 30+ Christian singles here I just joined on MeetUp, but unfortunately, it looks like the days that they meet are the days that I work.

At the same time, sometimes matters seem different. I have friends who I think don’t really know what to do with me. Some of my friends still want to get married and thus can’t entirely grasp what it means to be married and lose it to divorce. There are some aspects of life I know I can’t talk about entirely, such as dealing with issues involving sexuality.

I wonder about new people also. I can tell co-workers that I have been divorced and they don’t believe it when they hear I was accused of being abusive as I am nothing like that, but I am still hesitant. After all, there was someone I trusted once and that ended in tragedy. I don’t doubt that I have serious issues now involving rejection.

I am thankful also for friends that I can do online gaming with, such as Final Fantasy XIV, and if you do play just look up Phoenix Skywing. I have a friend who donates to my ministry and says that part of his donation has to go to keeping my account running. For him, World of Warcraft was the big deal when he went through his divorce. Gaming has been a great way to keep my mind off of things. I have now decided that in addition to prayer before bed, I’m also going to get out my Switch and game or 10-15 minutes. If I have panic attacks at night, I could consider doing the same as well.

Part of this also is all of this is bringing to mind about how hard it is to relate to people. I don’t understand social cues and in some banter meant to be humorous, I have no idea what to say and I get caught flat-footed. These are areas I am trying to work hard on as I don’t want to get married again only to have it end in flames. I never want to go through this experience again.

Thus, there is still one positive in all of this. You learn a lot about your friends and who’s there for you. Being a gamer all my life, I have learned the value of friends seeing as in most RPGs, your main character having friends is essential to defeating the enemy. Yes. I still want to find someone special again one day, but I am thankful that until then and even beyond then, I do have friends.

When I signed up for DivorceCare and was going through the book, we were asked what can you not live without. I gave the Jesus answer, but I also added in one other answer. Friends. Not even Jesus was without Him when He walked this Earth. Who am I to think I want to be without them.

Thank you friends and fellow travelers.

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)

The Choice

How do you respond to divorce? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

When I heard the news that Allie wanted to file for divorce, I was devastated, as you can imagine. It happened when I was working at my job at Kroger at the time. Allie contacted me and I was sure I knew what it was about. I called her to just get it over with then and I only had an hour in my shift, but I talked to my manager and was still crying and said “I can stay at work, but please don’t put me in front of people.”

He was the only one then who knew what happened.

For my last day in Georgia, I had a friend who stopped by and I then realized I had misread a text from Allie and had to clear out. Thankfully, he was there as I couldn’t stop crying my eyes out. I didn’t really want to have this be happening. When my family came over the next day to pack up my stuff, I was so distraught I was of very little help.

Yet when I got back to my parents’ house, I knew I had to make a choice and I honestly don’t know when I realized it or how I did it, but I didn’t want to be constantly bawling in front of my parents for one thing. Sympathy from friends is one thing, but from parents, it’s another. At the same time, I can say as a man nearly 41 years old, I love my parents, but I do want to live on my own instead.

So I had to make a resolve. I could either be defeated, or I could win. As a gamer, I have a rule. When you play, you play to win. I decided I could either live my life in defeat or do nothing or choose to look in the face of adversity and take it on full throttle.

That doesn’t mean I do perfect. There are still times I can have hard days and hard nights where it is hard to sleep. There can still be times of intense depression. Overall though, that isn’t happening. If anything, I am just resolved.

I do still talk to the therapist I talked with in Georgia on the phone on a weekly basis. He is still guiding me. We talk about dealing with divorce, my work and living situation, and my plans to remarry. He even still recommends me marriage books and many times I still buy some and read them as remarriage is part of my plan for life.

Perhaps what you go through right now isn’t divorce, but there could be something. For me, it’s the power of choice. It’s kind of like how if two patients get a cancer diagnosis and one says “I’m going to beat this diagnosis and come out on the other end” and the other says “Woe is me”, the former is far more likely to survive based on the power of the will.

I have been given much advice on this and tried to follow it. My therapist said if I want to date again, I need to update my wardrobe, so I have already talked to my sister who is a beautician and asked for her help with this. Some have said I need to work on learning etiquette, so I am looking for resources on that too. I have got books on learning how to interact with women and read body language.

For example, as an Aspie, eye contact is extremely difficult, but I have read to just try to briefly glance into someone’s eyes. For this one, let it be both men and women. Get used to this. Then for women, when it is appropriate, smile at them. That doesn’t mean you ask them out or anything, but it does mean I work on building up my confidence there. It’s really fascinating to me how many smiles back I get.

I did say I share my Patreon more often. I really haven’t liked doing that, but I have to work to reach my own goals. I am also trying to build up my YouTube channel which can be found here, which means making videos and getting more subscribers. I work five days a week, so I try to make one on my day off.

My goal is first to move out. I either need to earn enough so that I can afford rent and everything else here, or else find a roommate, which is difficult since so many of the guys I know through DivorceCare also have kids which could make it difficult to have room for us to stay. They will also have to be someone who is friendly to cats since Shiro being with me is a non-negotiable.

Once I am out, that is when I really plan to start dating again. It is the therapy and the reading I am doing to work on my character and everything about me to make sure I am the husband I really am supposed to be someday. I also have a rule that I won’t be alone in a place I live with the girl or alone in the place she lives with her until marriage. I don’t want to risk temptation.

Also, I have plans to get my Master’s in Practical Apologetics at Colorado Christian University. I just have to pay off a class I took at Johnson University that I never finished paying for to get my transcripts. It’s going to be about $1,000. I plan to pay it by December if I have to so I can start my Master’s work. I can cover it now if I have to, but I’m still trying to save up money, especially since a financial advisor has plans for investing once I get to $10,000 in my account. After that Master’s though, I hope to get my PhD.

For fun meanwhile, I also have a friend who donates to me and part of the requirement is that some of that goes every month to cover a subscription to Final Fantasy XIV. Online gaming like this helps get my mind off of things going on and I play with many friends. If you are on there, I am Phoenix Skywing. A friend for my upcoming birthday this month also gifted me the latest expansion coming out in November.

Having these goals is important also because it means I have a plan to where I’m going. Even if I’m not sure how I will get there, I have some reason to get up every day and live my life. I want to embrace it as a gift. Attitude greatly matters.

Do I have hatred towards Allie in this? No. Sometimes, I do have anger, but I really do want the best for her. What good would it be to live with anger and hostility like that, which can be difficult sometimes? If I am seething with anger, for example, what is it doing to her? Nothing. What is it doing to me? It’s damaging me.

Instead, I try to live with the following rule in mind. The best revenge is a life well-lived. So I get divorced and it’s a horrible pain and I wish it hadn’t have happened this way. Sure. Yet if I just roll over and die and sulk in bed all day, I accomplish nothing. I might as well get up and continue the battle every day and in the end, I want to stand before God with a clear conscience.

I can also say that there have been times of wrestling with God and trying to understand what is going on, but I have nowhere else to really turn. I honestly think that if I didn’t have my knowledge of what I know through years of apologetics, I might not have made it through this or be making it through this. No doubt also, the great circle of friends I have is extremely supportive.

For all wondering also, I am on good terms with Allie’s family. I will be at ETS this year as I think I need to get myself out there and get recognized so that is a worthwhile financial investment and this year, I will be rooming with Mike. Of course, I made mistakes as any husband does. None of us are perfect spouses and as Lewis says, “We are all very hard to live with.” Still, my former in-laws know about the love that I had for Allie and that I did treat her well.

And oh yes, while I do take delight in being on the spectrum, like I said, I am working on things like eye contact more and more. I know some traits could be very annoying in a way I don’t want to a woman. Some could be hard to change and might need that female help. Allie did more to change my diet, for example, than anyone else ever had.

This is my battle and the cross I have to carry for now. It is not yours and even if you are going through a divorce, my divorce is different from yours still. However, I think my general outline of what I am doing can still apply to you whatever your cross is. Basically, it’s just choosing to live and overcome and work hard at it. It’s having some goals so that you have a reason to wake up in the morning and do something. It’s trying to say that your life is a gift and you want to live it and to enjoy the good things of this world. It’s still as a Christian embracing Jesus Christ and being faithful even when you can feel like you’re being given a raw deal.

I am not saying it is easy, but I am saying it is possible. It is your choice. I have made mine.

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)

Autism Awareness Month: Friends

What do they mean to us? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

On the spectrum, I do tend to be anti-social. If anything, I usually find people more annoying than anything else. I can relate a lot to the great theologian Linus Van Pelt. I love mankind. It’s people I can’t stand.

I realize that’s not necessarily the Christian way, but I think it’s something we all struggle with. How many of us are bustling with love of people when we’re behind someone going very slowly in traffic or the grocery store? Fortunately, in this world, there are still bright spots.

Friends.

I have said before that in a support group I am a part of, I was asked what I can’t live without. This is a Christian support group so naturally, I gave the Jesus answer. However, I also added in something else. Friends. If I didn’t have friends, I think life would be unbearable.

I also think this is biblical. Even Jesus in His earthly ministry had His friends with Him. Friendship is a virtue Aristotle wrote a lot on. It is one of the ones that it’s not necessary for happiness really, but it’s sure a sign of an empty life without it.

Plato’s dialogue Lysis was all about what friends are. Normally, Socrates ends the dialogue with no one knowing what the item in question is and that’s that. In this one, it’s a different ending. No one knows what friendship is, but Socrates says he hopes that we will all leave as friends still.

For me, my life is greatly enriched by them and I tend to stay loyal to my friends. I hope to always be there to help them, but as my pastor told me recently, I am in a time where I need to really lean on them for now.

It has been an invaluable help for me when I can call a friend and talk to them about what’s going on and get the blessing of having them in my life. For me, I view life much like a game still and one great line I have is from Final Fantasy IV. In this, one villain tells the heroes after he beats them that weak people can join forces. Seemingly by doing this, even the weak can overcome great circumstances.

At the same time also, friends make fun a whole lot better. I can enjoy going through a dungeon in the MMORPG Final Fantasy XIV, but what makes it even better is if I have even one friend going through it with me. If I have even more, that makes it all the better. A multiplicity of friends makes life better.

In the age of Facebook, friendship seems to have been sadly downgraded. I do have true friends I have never met through Facebook, but I have over 3,500 Facebook friends. It’s ridiculous to think that I really know all of them. Many of our friends in this case are acquaintances.

To all my friends then, thank you. You make the journey a lot easier when it’s hard, and a lot more fun when it’s not. I am happy to fight alongside you.

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)

Friends

What value do they have? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

I was going through a book for a group I’m in and a question asked was what matters so much to you in your life. I wrote down various interests and focuses I have in my life. The next question was which could you live without?

That was a much harder question. Not even family survived that list. I love my family, but if something happened to them, I would still keep going. In the end, there were only two items I had on the list. One was Jesus.

The other was friends.

This does not mean one particular friend. It means people in your life that consist as friends. Throughout life, these change. The point is these are people that are not necessarily related to you. (Family can be friends, but we don’t normally see them in that capacity.)

Aristotle I understand once said that friends are not essential to life, but it is hard to imagine a life without them. As I thought about this further, I thought naturally about the Bible. When we get to the New Testament, what do we see?

Go look at the epistles. They normally end with addresses to the friends of the sender. When Paul is in prison, who comes and takes care of him? His friends do it. Paul feels truly alone when he feels abandoned by his friends.

Let’s even consider Jesus. Jesus didn’t really travel with His family. He traveled with His disciples that were His friends. When He is dying on the cross, who is it that is there? The beloved disciple, His friend, the same one He entrusted His mother to instead of His own brothers.

Today, we have too often diluted the term. Right now I have on Facebook over 3,500 friends. The huge majority of them I don’t know. There are a few in that number I have come to know well and I do consider to be friends. These are blessed gifts, but we can easily say for many of us that not all Facebook friends are really friends.

Friends often make things easier to go through in life and make all the good times even better. There is always something special about getting together with friends for a time. As a gamer, friends are definitely a high priority. I have two really good friends that I regularly play Final Fantasy XIV with for example.

When I am going through something hard, it is great to be able to reach out to a friend and talk to them about it. Sometimes they just listen. Sometimes, it is also good to have those friends who care about me enough that they will tell me something that I don’t want to hear. There is always a way to say such a hard truth, but a good friend will strive to do it in the best way.

Our good experiences are always amplified by friends. As I referred to earlier, being a gamer, playing a game alone can be good. Playing a game with friends makes it even better. As a guy, I can play a game wanting to beat my friends if it’s competitive, but in the end we still leave as really good friends.

Just thinking about that, my favorite genre of games also is RPGs and lo and behold, friends play a major part in that too. One often has a party that consists of several people all working together for the same goal. It’s amazing what different people can do together when they band together to fight for a common cause.

Finally, I’m probably not thankful enough for my friends. Well, definitely not thankful enough. If you are a friend of mine reading this, thank you. I also know when I pray before bed every night, I need to give thanks for those friends. They are gifts I do not have to have, but I am glad to have in my life.

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)
Support my Patreon here.

Friendship And Pleasure

Do friends make everything better? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

I still remember reading about Double Dragon II coming out on the Nintendo. It had this new innovation in it in that two players could play simultaneously. In the past, when you played a game, you each had to take your turn. Now you could both go at the same time. How incredible was that?

After all, playing a game can be a lot of fun, but it’s even better when someone does it with you. If I play a game by myself at home, that can be fun, but it’s really more enjoyable if Allie is right there with me even if she’s just watching. Many of us know this about our friendships. Things are just more fun if you do them with friends.

It’s okay to watch your favorite show. It’s even better when you watch it with friends or at least discuss it with them, like when my friend Chris and I used to get together every week to watch the new episode of Smallville. Going to a sporting event or a concert isn’t my cup of tea, but some people enjoy it, and I suspect they enjoy it even more with friends.

With friendship, you not only get the enjoyment of what you’re doing, but the enjoyment of doing it with someone else and seeing how they respond to it. Get more people together and it can be even more enjoyable. My bachelor party back in 2010 had to be one of the most tame bachelor parties of all by comparison. I got together with several of my friends at a place with a big screen and we just played Super Smash Brothers Brawl all night long.

Many friends also have inside jokes. There are things that they share that they share with no one else. A simple word or phrase or gesture can bring out uproarious laughter from the group.

These times can also lead to other connections. This can lead to sharing of things as you build a bond of trust with the friend and the friendship can move beyond just one of pleasure together, but it can also be one of a sort of intimacy together. In our culture, we often refer to intimacy and think it just refers to the sexual act. There are plenty of other ways of being intimate.

It’s odd how it works. When suffering enters, pain is divided. You don’t have to carry it as much because someone else is sharing it with you. Yet when it comes to pleasure, pleasure is not divided but rather it is multiplied. Your having pleasure at the same activity as me does not diminish my pleasure. Instead, it increases it.

So why not go and see a friend today? Take their pain for them and let them have less. Give them some pleasure and let them have more. Be a friend.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Friends In Suffering

How do friends help in suffering? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

One of the interesting phenomena that takes place is that a place to commit a crime and get away with it is in public. There are stories of a woman being raped in an apartment complex and is in the outdoors and is screaming, but no one does anything. Why? Because everyone assumes that someone else is doing something.

Consider our hearing of car horns. When car alarms started with horns going off, people might have noticed. Now, we hear the horn go off and no one really does anything. It’s become mundane. My personal thought is since everyone has smartphones now, what we should do is when someone starts to break into the car, it sends a silent message to the person who owns the car so the thief doesn’t know and the police can arrive and catch the person in the act.

So it is sometimes with friendship. Friends can be a great help in suffering, but one of the great sadnesses is that usually, we assume someone else will do it. Because of that, those people who need the help of their friends are not getting it.

A few months ago, I was on Facebook and saw in a group someone posting about being in the darkest spot of their life and wanting to end it all. I knew this person some and immediately messaged them and started talking them through it. For a few days, I was getting in touch with them everyday just to check on them. Eventually, they said they had someone around them who was helping them and I moved on, but I did take the step to reach out and help.

Just now, my wife and I were heading home and she was in a depressed state. She could be still, but she’s sounding a bit upbeat right now. Why? Because a friend called her she wasn’t expecting and they’re just talking. They’re not really talking about their problems so much from what I overhear, but just talking.

We can have this tendency where we all meet together and then go home and we forget about one another. I’ll confess, I’m not good at this either. However, what could it mean to a person to just get a message or a text or a phone call saying “I’m thinking about you.”? As I said, when I was in Middle School, the highlight of my week was my Sunday School teacher calling and seeing how I was doing.

If we send the out of sight, out of mind, message enough, people will start to think they don’t really matter. They just have fair-weather friends. I know it’s made my wife tremendously happy to get a call from someone who knows our financial situation and will still say something like, “I want to take you out for lunch or dinner” or “I want to see a movie with you.” I love being with Allie, but some healthy time apart is good for us too.

Suffering is always easier when you have other people coming alongside you and walking with you. It tells you you are not alone in the journey. “But I don’t know how to help my friend with their problems!” So what? Maybe your help isn’t needed. Maybe just listening is needed. Maybe just a distraction is needed.

This also comes back to being a friend. A friend who is only there when times are good is not much of a friend. Be a friend who is there when times are bad.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

How Do We Get Friends?

What does it take to get a friend? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

In the comedy series The Big Bang Theory, Sheldon Cooper wants to befriend one of his antagonists in order to get to use the computer at the lab. Sheldon decides to go to the library, get a book on friendship, though written for kids, and extrapolate the principles to a higher level. Most of us kind of laugh at that because to quote the commercial, “That’s not how this works. That’s not how any of this works.”

And yet, in some ways, it is. There is a sort of art to making friends. Years ago I read Dale Carnegie’s How To Win Friends and Influence People. One simple rule I remembered from the book was to remember the names of people you meet. Many of us may not realize it, but we do love to hear the sound of our own names.

So when we moved into our new apartment complex, I tried to make it a point to learn the names of the people around me. It’s a small thing, but it does help. I also try to talk to them about the topics that they bring up. I remember a lively discussion outside the pool here once with a lady who was describing how she took a philosophy class once.

Yet overall, there is one simple way to get friends. It’s to be one. Note that this won’t always work. You cannot force someone to do something like that. Friendship has to be a real and genuine choice.

Do you want people to talk to you? Try to talk to them more. I remember growing up in middle school and the highlight of the week was always the same. I was surprised the first time it happened, but grateful after awhile. It’s a shock when you’re that age and the phone rings at the house and someone asks for you. Who wants to call you? (At least if you’re the nerd in school)

It was the Sunday School teacher that I had asking me how my week was. This would happen every week on Friday or Saturday. It became something I looked forward to. When this teacher died unexpectedly one day, it was my first real encounter with death. My grandfather had died when I was two years old so I couldn’t remember that.

There are plenty of people that if you care about this would love it if you would just reach out to them and see how they’re doing from time to time. If someone doesn’t reach out, odds are no one will reach back. Well suppose you reach out and no one reaches back. Oh well. Do you do the right thing to get a reward?

But if they do reach out, that is excellent for both of you. It’s always good to reach out and do something kind to your fellow man just for the sake of doing something kind. However, if you remain standoffish and don’t reach out to people, most people will likely assume you’re not interested in any sort of relationship and act accordingly.

Keep in mind based on my last entry in this, you don’t really need this to work with a lot of people. You just need a few. This is why accountability partners work so well with programs with Celebrate Recovery and others. One of the best ways to succeed in something is get an accountability partner and a mentor. I have a mentor I email every night.

Bottom line again, if you want to get a friend be one. Make the first move.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

How Many Friends Do We Need?

What’s a good number to have? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

If you look on my Facebook as of the time of writing this post, you will see that I have 3,083 friends. Don’t for a moment think that I really know all of them. In the past when games let you do this more, when I played a Final Fantasy game and got to rename the characters, I went with the names of my friends. It would be difficult to do that often with Facebook friends.

Sometimes my wife will get a friend request from someone and say “Do you know them?”

“Nope.”

“You’re friends with them.”

“Doesn’t mean that I know them.”

Which is true. Many of you don’t know many of your own Facebook friends well if you have them. Some you might have some good knowledge about, but you wouldn’t really call it an intimate friendship. There are a few Facebook friends I’ve never met in person that I would consider to be true friends that I can count on. It’s often quite enjoyable when I get to meet these friends.

But how many friends do you really need?

Well, if we looked at the life of Jesus, you could consider that he had 12 apostles. Within that group, there was a privileged group, the three, that he invited on very special moments to join him. Even outside of the twelve, there were other people like Lazarus and his family and numerous women. Still, Jesus did not open up with just everyone.

I really think this is a good principle to follow. Have a circle of friends. Let it be a circle with several rings. On the outermost circle are friends you know a couple sparse details about. You could say hi if you saw them in public, but they probably won’t be over to your house for dinner.

The next circle is friends you are closer to. These people might come over for a movie or for dinner. At the same time, you’re not willing to open up the closet door so they can see your skeletons yet. They could often be friends just because you enjoy their company.

The innermost ring though is your faithful circle and I really prefer to keep this ring small. Not only can they be true friends to you then, but you can also be true friends to them. In this lifetime, there is only so much of you that can go around.

People can move in and out of the circles as well. Sometimes it could depend on location. People we were super close to in Knoxville we don’t talk to as much now that we live in Atlanta. That just happens. Some people you can be close to because of work or attending a church with them or anything like that. Again, no one has to be a friend to you always.

Try to make everyone a best friend and you’re in for a world of hurt I think. Have some good friends and then keep a close circle of the people you really trust. Be friends to them and let them be your friends.

In Christ,
Nick Peters