This year God has been teaching me a lot about friendship. Building strong relationships looks so different in this life stage than it did in grade school and college, but the core principles remain the same. I’ve had to relearn some things that used to be second nature to me. God has been reminding me what it means to be vulnerable and available in my friendships.
Satan wants nothing more than to keep us isolated from one another. And, in this season of being somewhat newly married and having young kids I’ve seen the enemy use differing circumstances to isolate my friends and me from one another. I have friends walking through infertility, friends who are patiently waiting for God to give them peace about starting a family, and friends who have lost fervently prayed for and deeply desired babies. And this is just within my closest circle of friends. At different points in each one of our stories the enemy has tried to bring isolation, and we let him when we neglect to meet together as Paul warns us against in Hebrews.
“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 we see the day drawing near.”Hebrews 10: 24-25
There is a reason Paul warns us not to neglect meeting together. When we choose our own comfort over entering into the knitty gritty of each other’s lives we leave room for the enemy to speak lies. When those lies begin to take root and grow, our relationships with each other and with God suffer.
There is so much value in community because we have the power to speak truth over one another, to look into each other’s lives and point out the ways we see God moving. As a community of believers it is our job to step out of our own personal bubbles and speak encouragement over one another, “I love you”, “I see you in your suffering,” “You are not alone,” “God is with you in the midst of this storm,” “You are enough.”
My husband an I have been involved in the same bible study for almost 5 years now. A couple weeks ago during girl time we split up into groups of 3-4 and spoke encouragement over one another. We went around and one by one spoke out lies we’d been believing specific to our friendships with one another and then fought those lies with the truth.
Before we split I looked around that room filled with eleven of my favorite women in the world (we were only missing one person, a miracle in itself!) and said these words, “There is so much love in this room.” Everyone shook their heads and smiled with thankful hearts because we recognize that a group like ours is special, but still, insecurities run rampant in our midst.
The testimonies I heard after that night were that almost every woman in that room felt isolated or alone in some way like they had a lot of friends but they still felt lonely and unknown on a regular basis. It breaks my heart to know that we are failing each other. Not on purpose, but still we are letting the busyness of life get in the way of what matters most, loving God and loving His people.
I am so guilty of spending hours on social media every day but not reaching out to the friend who’s daughter just had surgery. I’m guilty of never getting around to signing up to bring that friend who just had a baby a meal. Many days I’m guilty of choosing laziness on the couch over getting myself and the kids dressed to go meet up with friends for a playdate. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a big believer in the importance of not having a go go go attitude all the time, but you never know when a simple request for a play date is actually a desperate cry for community. I want to say yes more than I say no, I want to be willing to sacrifice my kids’ naps lining up in order to be there for a friend when she needs me. But that mindset doesn’t just happen without effort, it requires intentionality and a willingness to make sacrifices for those around you. That mindset is not “convenient.” Which means that unless we go out of our way to be intentional, and invite God into our time in that way it won’t happen.
I’ve had two conversations this year where the phrase “best friend” was used for the first time. It was scary and felt very vulnerable, but ultimately stepping out on the limb and putting words to how much those friendships mean to me was SO important. It wasn’t easy and it certainly doesn’t mean that our relationships are perfect and we see each other all the time. We still have our bumps, but taking the time to stop and say “I’m in this life with you, I’m always here, I want to be the friend you call when you’re in a pinch, etc.” and then hearing the same commitment in return brought so much healing to my heart. The lies of the enemy about us being alone and unknown and unloved cannot stand in the face of vulnerable intentionality like that.
Why is that so hard? Why did it take me almost 5 years to speak those words? Let’s choose to enter into each other’s lives and speak love and commitment to each other on the friendships level. Let’s be willing to be an “inconvenience” to one another because real life almost never fits in a perfectly planned nap scheduled timetable. Lets keep the pack in plays in our trunks for that impromptu play date that interferes with nap time. Let’s make building meaningful relationships with the women in our lives a higher priority. I know it’s not an easy task, but what is it that “they” always say? “Nothing worth fighting for ever comes easy.”
So let’s fight friends, let’s fight!
1. Who came to mind as you read this post? Have you told them how much you value their friendship? Have you taken the risk to be vulnerable and express your commitment to being there for them whenever they may need you? If not, I challenge you to reach out and plan a face to face conversation with them soon.
2. Are their friendships in your life where you feel tension? Have you been hurt by someone and not taken the time to communicate that hurt? Have you said or done something that hurt someone else and not taken the step of humbling yourself and apologizing? If so, I challenge you to reach out to that person and plan a face to face conversation with them soon.
I want to get better at these types of conversations because the more of them I have the more I realize the healing power they possess. I’m also aware that the only way I can get there is by asking God to change my heart and give me boldness in my relationships. Will you join me in praying and asking God to make us sensitive to the needs of those around us? Let’s ask him to help us die to our own selfish desires and love others as ourselves.
“Father, I need you. I am selfish and it is so easy for me to go about my day focused on my to-do list and completely forgetting the needs of those around me. Help me die to myself, Lord. Give me your eyes to see those around me and your ears to hear what is really going on in their hearts. Soften my heart with empathy for the struggles of others and fill me with your love and compassion. Give me the boldness to be the “best” friend, to show up and be reliable, to speak the truth of your love over the people you’ve placed in my life. Change my heart Lord, and use me to be an encouragement to your people. In Jesus name, amen.”