The Bare Necessities of Life: Friends and Chocolate, Part 1

chocolateSo many of us lead hectic lives. It just seems to be the way the world is spinning these days. And when life gets crazy, we often have difficulty developing and maintaining close friendships. 

This is dangerous, ladies. Neglecting your inherent need to socialize could be harmful to your health . . . almost as damaging as life without chocolate.

Face it, what else makes a woman feel better when she is cycling through her hormones? Chocolate and a good talk with a sweet sister. Which brings me to my point: friends are like chocolate. You can live without them, but who really wants to? 

Friends are the chocolate chips in the cookie of life.

Like chocolate, friends give us pleasure. They share the good times and the bad. “Ointment and perfume rejoice the heart: so doth the sweetness of a man’s friend…” [Proverbs 27:9]. I once heard someone say, “The only thing better than a good friend, is a good friend with chocolate.”

Of course, chocolate doesn’t excite all as much as it does most. You may be a chip gal, or a new-pair-of-shoes lady; however, scientists discovered that phenylethyamine, also known as the “love drug,” is released in our brains when we eat chocolate. This is the very same chemical that gives us that feeling of being in love. And consuming chocolate takes a lot less effort than a romance, though overindulgence can result in similar mood swings.

Chocolate comes in different flavors: white, dark and traditional. It is also used to cover nuts and raisins . . . apply these analogies to your friends however you wish, but don’t blame me if they get upset with you. Regardless of the richness, texture or hue, all chocolate, like all friendships, serve their purposes in life. From acquaintances to comrades, associates to sidekicks, attendants to benefactors, companions to confidantes, the Lord brings people into our lives to share our times and seasons. 

True friendships are among the many wonderful blessings of those who belong to the Body of Christ.

As believers, we find ourselves filling many different roles in the lives of others. The same friend we celebrated with last week, may lend us a shoulder to cry on tomorrow. The person we counseled on a family matter, may be the one who has the right advice for our ministry situation. As the old proverb says, “One hand washes the other.”

Throughout the year my husband battled cancer, my sisters in the Lord came to my rescue. While I was consumed with the demands of attending him, my church family supported me. They worked out a schedule and brought meals to my home. My laundry washed, my groceries bought, my son diapered, and my daughter’s hair brushed—different women pulled together to pull me through a very difficult season of life. As I served in my church the years prior to the trauma, I never dreamed I would find myself and my family dependant on others in such a dramatic way. 

No one knows with certainty the troubles and challenges ahead—another good reason to invest in the lives of others. For the joy of relationships, yes, but also, it is simply impossible to anticipate when we may need to make an emergency withdrawal. If no deposits have been made into our friendship accounts, where will we draw from?

I learned the most about true friendship when in desperate personal need others befriended me:

• A real friend knows when to keep her mouth closed and her arms opened (think of Job’s friends). 
• A real friend knows when to say “I love you” instead of “you should . . .” 
• And a real friend knows when you need a pat on the back or a swift kick to the backside. “Faithful are the wounds of a friend.” [Proverbs 27:6]. 

I have needed both pats and kicks, and I have given both to others. This is real life, ladies, and we have to be real with each other if we’re really going to make it. “If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up!” [Ecclesiastes 4:10NIV].

Beyond tantalizing our taste buds, chocolate washes endorphins and serotonin over our brains. Endorphins lessen pain and decrease stress, while serotonin works as an antidepressant. The relationships God brings into our lives absolutely provide these powerful coping mechanisms. Sharing life with friends lessens pain, decreases stress and helps shift perspective from selfishness to selflessness—an outlook that fights depression with great results, better than most chemicals on the market, and without negative side effects.

We all go through lonely seasons, sometimes while surrounded by people. If your heart is lonely, I encourage you to take your focus off looking for a friend. Instead, look for a way to serve others, and God will bring friends into your life.

About LoriWagner

Lori Wagner is the best-selling author of 15 books, with over 50,000 copies sold. Her works include The Pure Path Series (discipleship/Christian growth for girls), The Briar Hollow Series (historical fiction), and "Holy Intimacy." Her most recent projects include Orbis, a board game, and "Wisdom is a Lady," a small-group resource that includes video teaching sessions.  Lori is a licensed minister, a Purpose Institute Campus Administrator, and serves as the Michigan District Prayer Coordinator for the World Network of Prayer. She has served as the Michigan State Coordinator for the National Day of Prayer and is an elected representative in her community for five terms.  
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