Today on my way to my daughter’s first day of Kindergarten, my husband and I talked about our school experiences. He had some positive things to say. I didn’t have many. As much as I’ve struggled through romantic relationships throughout my life, I’ve realized that I’ve strugged just as much, if not more, in my friendships. Especially with women.
I was always the girl that got along much better with guys than girls. In elementary school when it really wasn’t legit to be friends with boys (because cooties, obviously), I would have friendships with girls but they would rarely last through one school year. I was friends with girls in my class, but only in class. I remember a few girl friends during those years, but not many. A lot of them were my friends by default because my mom took care of them after school, or our moms were friends. I also had one friend who grew up across the street. Both of those girls I’m friends with on Facebook today, but that’s not the friendship I’m talking about. We are talking bonded friendships that last through thick and thin. I don’t even want to talk about Jr. High and High School where I was tormented (well, that started before then as well). By the time I graduated High School, I did not have a single friend to say goodbye to or congrats to that night. I went straight home with my family (and boyfriend at the time, obviously).
College wasn’t much better. Again, friendships revolved around classes and extracurricular activities. I didn’t have ZERO friends. I had some really great friends. But they never last the whole way through or even past college. A few of them are still in contact with me here and there, but not many.
After college, it was more of the same. Friends were girls from work or the gym, and mostly involved girls I could drink with.
So, point being, throughout most of my years, I often didn’t have anyone to turn to during those super deep dark moments. I know that a lot of the reasons as my own fault. I was kind of a life-sucker. I drained people. I also relied way too much on my “boyfriends” to act also as my best friend. Which I think is partially why I was a relationship whore (I’ll have to re-publish that post in this blog…it’s a pretty good one). I was also always in this kind of self-made wild world. I was selfish. I was totally borderline (personality disorder…google it if you’re not familiar). I also had no sense of identity. Most of my friends abandoned me, but I don’t blame them.
I swear to you there’s a point to this pity party.
I asked my husband who he could think of (besides Mandy — see post on Mandy if you aren’t sure who that is LOL) that I had been friends with since even he has known me (which is about 6.5 years). He couldn’t think of anyone. I mean, actually a friend. See and talk to on a regular basis. Really lean on one another. I had lots of “outside friends.”
Right now I have friends. I have actual friends. I have women in my life who I talk to on a regular basis. Who I love and who love me. We share giggles and secrets and fears and victories. We pray for each other, encourage each other. It’s so freaking amazing.
It’s also terrifying.
Matt and I have finally found a community to be a part of. We have a church family. These people are like OUR PEOPLE. #Mytribe type people. Who we see IN REAL LIFE on a regular basis. (I have 29385623572 Facebook friends, y’all, and YES I love and appreciate all of them and would not have survived my years of isolation without them)! It’s different when it’s in real life. We all need this.
So anyway, the point of this is to talk about how terrifying becoming a part of a community like this is and encouraging you to do so if you’re afraid. The more intimate you get with people the more you see each other’s flaws. They KNOW you. You can’t hide anymore. You’re vulnerable. If you drop off the face of the planet, they’re going to come find you.
It’s scary to open up and get to know people in a close-knit, but also wider community. I’ve thrown myself head first into the people of this church. I have been wildly waving my hands saying, HEY! I NEED YOU! ALSO, HOW CAN I HELP?! LET’S BE FRIENDS!!!! Sometimes part of me is looking at myself going, SHHHH FOR THE LOVE!! THEY WILL SEE YOU!!
So yeah, with this intimacy comes the knowledge of each other’s flaws. People will SEE YOU. Good, bad, ugly, all that. BUT, it also comes with the ability to GROW in grace and in faith.
And you know what else? I think everyone is afraid to some extent. You’d be hard pressed to find someone who hasn’t been hurt when they’ve become vulnerable in some way. Look at everyone through those eyes. The enemy wants our fears to overtake us. He wants us to say NO when we should be saying YES; to say “we’ll see,” instead of saying, “ALL IN!” The Lord meant for us to share in each other’s joys, pains, struggles, and victories. To share it in love and truth and integrity, not in a judgmental or gossipy kind of way. This helps us keep each other accountable, but IN LOVE and not shame or condemnation. It is okay to be known. I promise. (I am seriously saying this to myself right meow, okay? Not just y’all reading this). If you think about it, we are already known. The Lord knows us inside and out, and guess what?! HE STILL LOVES US. There is no where to hide from His love and grace. MIND BLOWN. So let’s not hide from the love and grace of each other. Who is perfect? Me? Sure as heck no. You? Most likely not. Who is? Our Heavenly Father. We are all still growing. We are all living in the tension of who we are now on earth and who we are seated in Christ. Sanctification takes time, and most of the time, IT HURTS. But it won’t be and can’t be accomplished alone. Hiding keeps us from discovering our purpose and anointing. The devil loves when we hide and isolate. His lies grow louder and we feed them. But when we intentionally surround ourselves with our brothers and sisters in authentic community, they remind us of who we truly are in Christ, and that the enemy is a stinking liar. He’s a schemer who comes to kill, steal and destroy. But we can and will overcome because the Lord fights the battle for us. But the more we are covered in prayer, the better off we are and the more we can be refined and know His love through each other. He defeated death, and that same power that raised Christ from the dead lives in each of us. That is who we are, and that is how we ought to be known, and that is why we need each other. Because we all have moments of weakness and doubt. We all need people who will speak truth into our lives. When I find myself in those places where I want to literally hide, curl up in bed, never speak to anyone again (yes, this still happens), I speak Jesus’ name over those fears and doubts, those lies and torments (thanks, Kari Jobe!). And I text my friends (or Marco Polo in my case, because BEST APP EVER), even when I don’t want to. Because they will pray, and they will come harass me until I get back on my feet. I am so grateful that the Holy Spirit didn’t let me give into these fears this time. I’m 100% not perfect, but all these people being on this journey with me help me keep going. I’m finally in one of those mutually beneficial friendships that I wanted to be. And I hope and pray that these people will be my friends for life, and not just for a short season.
“Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.” Colossians 3:16
“Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.” Ephesians 4:15-16
“And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.” Hebrews 10:24-25