My Tribe

Friendship is on my heart these days. God has placed me in the middle of some amazing people who support me, encourage me, and – yes – call me on my bull. I always thought I had a lot of friends, but I’ve had so many people I thought were friends leave my life over the years. Being one who excels in self-loathing, I always blamed myself for not being “enough”. In some cases, the fault is mine. However, as I experience true friendship, I realize that some of those exits were not my fault after all. I call those blessings.

Friends build each other up. They stand tall next to you on the tough days. They fight with you – and for you when you can’t find your strength. They comfort you. They give you reality checks. They cry with you. They laugh with you. They do life with you.

A true friend sees your worth when you are defeated. A true friend is there regardless of impacts. If someone is only your “friend” in private and leaves you to wait out the storms on your own, that isn’t a friend. They don’t opt to leave you behind because they “are not allowed” to be your friend, according to others.

I never understood how powerful friendship can be and how important it is to have such amazing people in your life, but, as my faith grows, so do my friendships. I seek out the people who love me and distance myself from those who do not support me.

I’m quirky and my friends embrace my craziness. They love me for who I am. They don’t expect me to be anything I am not. They help me work through my (many) issues. They answer my phone calls and texts. They remind me that this world needs me. For these reminders, I am truly grateful.

The people who love me when I am not very loveable are my heroes. They respect my opinions and, even when we disagree, they have my back and we respect each other.

When they call me out on my crap, they do it with love and honesty. They don’t belittle my opinions or call me names. They don’t tolerate people talking about me behind my back. They stand up for me even when I am not there to defend myself.

We are smack-dab in the midst of teenage drama and having to tell my kind-hearted child that people who don’t respect her are not her friends is heartbreaking. For the life of me, I cannot understand how kids can be so cruel. Adults, too. Rather than talking about people behind their backs, maybe reach out to them to see if they need help. Show them you understand if they are in pain. Show them they matter rather than cut them down.

If you have a friend who has a business, help them pass the word. If you have a friend who struggles with feeling loved, tell them how you feel about them.

This world is challenging, to say the least, but if we do life together and invest in each other, we truly can make a difference. In some cases, kindness can be the difference between life and death.

God puts people in our path to teach us, to test us, and to love us. When he places you in a circle of friends that know Him, the challenges are opportunities for growth. We develop a greater capacity to love others. There will always be differences between us and we won’t always see eye to eye, but when we focus on Him, we make it through. We learn that broken “friendships” are His protection. After the hurt has healed, we can see how wrong that person was for us.

When we love each other as Christ loves us, we grow in our faith. We learn the importance of friendship and we grow closer to The Lord.

“As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.”
Proverbs 27:17 NIV

“Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.”
John 15:13 NIV

“A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for a time of adversity.”
Proverbs 17:17 NIV

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.”
John 13:34 NIV

Broken Places

We are all broken in various ways. We beat ourselves up, question our purpose, and magnify our shortcomings. Things others likely do not even notice become our greatest sources of shame.

The things we hold onto out of the fear that others won’t find us valuable consume our thoughts. This is what the enemy wants. He wants us isolated, living in fear. If he can keep us locked up in our own version of hell, we cannot do what God intends for us to do.

The enemy is a jerk. He doesn’t fight fair. He’s a great big poopyhead. Anytime he can, he will derail our walk with the Lord. Why? Because we allow it. We allow his antics to flourish because we choose to believe his lies.

What he doesn’t want you to know is that he cannot stop you. He’s not that powerful. He merely plants the seed and leaves the rest to you. He wants you to forget that simply saying, “Jesus” will make him run like the coward he is.

He also doesn’t want you to realize that those very pieces of your life that are wrapped in shame have no power when exposed to the light. When we keep our secrets hidden, darkness runs our lives. However, when we speak of our shameful missteps, the darkness and shame vanishes. They become part of who we were rather than who we are. They become part of our past. Our former self.

When we open up about who we were, God uses those events to reach others who are lost. By sharing our secret shame, God is able to restore and redeem us. Healing occurs when we hand our shame over to God and let Him handle it. When we surrender our pasts to God, we see His miraculous restoration at work. We are made new and the chains of the past fall away.

The enemy wants to keep you in bondage to your shame so that others cannot connect with your story. So that you can’t reach a lost soul. So that you cannot offer the hope that can only be found in Jesus.

These broken places of ourselves are necessary. Not to punish us. Not to relive past offenses. Not to keep us mired in shame. No. These broken places – and our vulnerability required to share them – are the very pieces of us that make us relatable to others in need of hope so that we can introduce them to Christ.

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“This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. If we claim to have fellowship with him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.”
1 John 1:5‭-‬7 NIV

“…for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God…”
Romans 3:23 NIV

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!”
2 Corinthians 5:17 NIV