I am learning about friendship. While on the phone with a new friend I was sharing my current struggles and requested prayer, she seemed uncomfortable. She was very gracious and let me know that she struggles with diving into friendship because she’s been hurt. I chose to listen to what she was really saying and pray for her and our relationship and not take offense.
The next day I was on the phone with one of my closer, longtime friends who I can share my struggles with when she shared with me her current feelings of insignificance; and that God was speaking to her about how she was seeking significance through relationships. And there it was, BAM! The light bulb moment, the Spirit shed light on a huge truth that freed me and I am certain is freeing for all women.
Between the two conversations, I was overwhelmed to say the least. Their blatant contrast first of all; but what struck me the most was how the second friend gave me insight to share with the first friend – that my expectation isn’t in her. I know she will fail me and I know for sure that I will fail her. Third, in all our struggles we were listening to a lie. After all this, I wrote a letter to the first friend and here is what I shared:
I am learning that when friends look to friends for significance or acceptance it makes the relationship tricky. Rather a mutual relationship shares the load and recognizes apart from love we stumble terribly. This frees us to be who we are in Christ without fear of not getting the need met or failing to meet the others need. Obviously, this doesn’t negate that we have legitimate needs to share and connect. In godly friendships we experience beauty and richness of connection with our girls in the Lord! While all this is easy on paper, recognizing when our search for significance has led us into a hopeless pit is another story. If the role of the Holy Spirit is to lead us into all truth then hearing and recognizing the voice of God ministering to our spirit is critical, especially when we are hurting.
We were created to be needed and need. We were created in the image of a relational God. Recall for a moment the Garden, when God had finished creating man he said it is not good that he be alone, this wasn’t just about the marriage relationship. Woman reflects the image of God that man does not. In other words, we as women are needed in this world for a specific purposes and because we are a woman. No matter what our personality type (introvert or not) we are relational at our core. We, as women, are the creative art work God realized to depict the mutual, unstained relationship God intended between Himself and mankind. Or put this way in the book entitled, Captivating by John and Stasi Eldridge, “we have an irreplaceable role in this life to fill!” How is that for significance?
However, we no longer live in the Garden. We now live in a broken world, trying to rediscover our “irreplaceable role.” Therein lies some of the challenges I have been faced with recently:
Friendship is messy. Most days I would prefer to stay in my little safe world without any risk or relation. But through my friends I have learned so much about myself. There is such sweetness in sisterhood – a friend sticks closer than a brother (Proverbs 18:24b).
Relationships require vulnerability, which defined is being open to attack or damage. If we are to be people of God, women in true relationship with one another, we do well to consider how we listen to God first before we can listen to our friends. Our identity in Christ is foundation to our friendships with one another. Without it wounded people wound people!
Sometimes, we all need a lift. In the Return of the King, Lord of the Rings Trilogy, the two Hobbits (Frodo and Sam Wise Gimchie) are carrying the burden of the Ring they must return to its place before all of Middle Earth is destroyed. Only Frodo was ultimately responsible for getting it back but his friend Sam Wise Gimchie insisted on sharing the burden with him despite all the danger and heart ache he already experienced on the journey. When Frodo could no longer carry on, Sam Wise picked him up, put him on his shoulder and carried him. I wept! This picture of friendship spoke to my heart, the place where I seldom let people go because showing my need for another is risky business. Letting someone carry me somehow communicates that I am weak. Ironically, its the very opposite, humility takes great strength.
Among the other lies I believe, the one I often struggle with is that I am not adequate as a friend and I am surely not qualified to speak into any person’s life, after all, look at my life, it seems I have learned everything through failure.
To this lie what sets me free is first, I am still in this process, yes I do know this, but over and over again the Lord points His finger on this lie and squashes it like I squash ants on my kitchen counter-tops. So when I step out with purpose to be vulnerable and walk in who I am in Christ – a fierce woman with an irreplaceable role in the unseen battle that wages war against me daily, I become a significant friend.
Second, I am qualified because of who qualifies me. It is the working of the Holy Spirit in me, equipping me for life and godliness that is qualified to be whatever is needed through my life.
I end with a verse that keeps speaking to me: He who loves his brother (sister) abides in the light and there is no cause for stumbling in him. (1 John 2:10)