Monday, July 14, 2014

Do I have something on my face?

This post has been brewing for a while. In the past 5 years, I really haven't been so good at friendships. I can easily lose touch, get my feelings hurt, or just stop putting effort in. Up until the last 2 years, I was lacking true friendships and deep relationships.

And then God started changing me, like he likes to do.

My eyes were opened to the world of being vulnerable and what an incredible feeling it can be to share and to forgive. I have been blessed with the opportunities for close friendships this year, and I feel like I'm finally letting the Holy Spirit give me wisdom about how to maintain these relationships. Turns out, scripture talks A LOT about friendship and relationships :)

I finally decided to write this post when I visited my friend Cattie's church last Sunday. The pastor had some awesome things to say about true friendship and it was just what I needed to get the ball rolling! I believe his name was Randy, and he started out by saying he wanted the kind of friend that would tell him when he had food on his face. Don't we all want that? How embarrassing is it to find out you've been talking all along with chocolate on your face? It's terrible! We love it when someone pulls us aside and says, "Dude, there's something on your face, let me help you get it off."And that right there is my short hand for what it says in Proverbs:

"Oil and perfume make the heart glad, and the sweetness of a friend comes from his earnest counsel." Proverbs 27:17

I looked up the definition for earnest and counsel, because that helps sometimes. Counsel means advice, especially given formally. And earnest means showing sincere and intense conviction. So, earnest counsel sounds really pretty, but it doesn't always feel that way. Sometimes, because of our own sin and defensiveness, it feels like an attack. Which I think is why many friendships never make it past this point. Defenses immediately go up, feelings are hurt, accusations are thrown. And then it either gets swept under the rug if you want the relationship to continue, or it ends the friendship. Neither of those is a great choice. 

"Better is open rebuke than hidden love. Faithful are the wounds of a friend; profuse are the kisses of an enemy." Proverbs 27:5-6

Do you really want a friend who has all of these internal concerns for you, but never says them? What kind of friendship is that? This kind of openness I'm talking about is not free from hurt, just because it's right and true and sincere, doesn't mean it won't be difficult or hurtful sometimes. But I love what Proverbs says, "FAITHFUL are the wounds of a FRIEND". The hurt is not without purpose, it is not without LOVE. 

Love is not letting someone continue in their sins because it's a hard conversation to have. Or because you are worried the friendship might not survive that talk. With friendships today, we are so scared to offend anyone that we don't call out sin or things that need to change when we see it. Really, why would we be so shocked if someone had a problem with us? We are ALL SINNERS. You will never have a friend who is not a sinner. We should all be open to rebuke because we ALL have the potential to hurt others. 

I say this, because I am one of the worst. I HATE criticism. I don't want to have to change. It's painful and sad. But I welcome it (maybe not at the exact moment) because I know the fruit it will bring and I appreciate the heart of my friends behind it. It's just as hard for them to bring up a flaw as it is for me to hear it. I want a friend who is more worried about my eternal salvation and sanctification than an easy friendship. As the pastor last week said, "I'm not interested in politically correct friendships." 

And so now that we've seen the facts about biblical friendship. What do you do if you don't have that? 

Be the one to start it.

Don't think, "Man no one loves me that well or cares that much." Be the one that loves that well and cares that much. It is hard, and I'm still figuring things out, but the results I have already seen from my friendships like this are HUGE. There is a love and acceptance there, a vulnerability established to where we can confess anything and confront each other about anything. I pray for graciousness for us all, that we would recognize we are all sinners and all in need of growth and change. And I praise God that we have the ultimate friend. One who will not let us sit in our sin, who convicts us in love, who guides our way. Thank you God for your son Jesus! 

And now, a montage of some of my best friendships in which the pictures were easily accessible on my computer or facebook ;)

I also just want to note that I write this post with a lot of conviction. With a want to do better, but also a fear of how it will be received. One thing preached at our church recently was the idea that you can not be deeply encouraged about something until you are deeply known. You friends cannot speak into your heart about something they don't know. So I encourage you to be bold and vulnerable, to allow these people in! I'm praying that God can use these words to affect many of us and our friendships!

- Bethany

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