The Lord was doing a new work in me.
I was no longer happy to paste a smile on, chat about the kids, share a glass of wine and call that friendship. I wanted to show someone that I was broken too. I wanted to get below the surface, find women who desired to follow God’s heart, and walk the journey together. As I prayed, I asked for a soul-friend or two, women I knew God, in His wisdom, already had prepared for me, but my faith was weak. I am an introvert, uncomfortable with new things, and insecure around new people. Though my leadership role isolated me, it also was safe- people knew who I was and what I was good at.
I knew that my time on the island was finished. But regardless of this knowing, taking the obedient steps required in order to follow God’s leading would take more from me than I realized. And aside from prayer, I didn’t know how else to proceed.
Where do you find friends?
We connect with people day in and day out, people who share our hobbies, our work, our children’s teachers, our neighborhoods, our faith. Dozens of people each day, perhaps hundreds each week, each with their own personality and struggles and gifts and fears.
How can we know who to choose? How do we assess who will be right, safe and compatible?
We, as human beings, and I believe women in particular, judge each other in ways big and small, at first glance, and at long look. We compare. Often we come up short, which reminds us that our insecurities and doubts about ourselves are warranted, and causes us to withdraw; other times we feel superior, and the beast of pride gobbles us up, hardening our hearts before spitting us back out to look down our noses at each other.
Am I the only one whose default mode is evaluation?
So is the act of making friends then, simply one in which we grab a big ruler and measure each other up one side and down the other, discerning how well we will fit?
What I’m discovering on my journey is that true friendship is the opposite of evaluation, when, and only when, it is God-made.
“Friendship is not a reward for our discrimination and good taste
in finding one another out. It is the instrument by which God reveals
to each the beauties of all the others. They are no greater
than the beauties of a thousand other [women];
by Friendship God opens our eyes to them. They are,
like all beauties, derived from Him, and then, in a good Friendship,
increased by Him through the Friendship itself.”
~C. S. Lewis, The Four Loves
While I had never heard it spoken of so eloquently, this truth is the freedom that I had been seeking. I could trust God to bring into life an entity that was more than the companionship and pleasure of a solely human-made-and-sustained friendship. If it is true that Friendship (with a capital ‘F’, as Lewis spoke of it) has a purpose far greater than simply sharing stories, laughter and tears- that it can truly make the participants more soul-beautiful, more Christ-like- than maybe it is also true that we, as Christian women, could forego the measurements, in favor of grace
In all honesty, there will never be a lasting human friendship that will not cause pain of some sort, at some time, in some way. Yet the three-fold cord so often spoke about in regard to marriage, applies as well to Friendship. Focusing on the Giver of gifts allows us to accept with full grace the limitations of other women, in order that we may completely experience the beauties within them.
So along with my mask, I chose to toss my ruler. And while there are times I still feel the urge to pick one or the other up, I now see them for the binding devices that they are.
How do you measure up? Are you weary of the comparison game? Can you accept the weaknesses in yourself, and in others, to more fully embrace the “beauties” God can reveal?
I am sharing this act of journeying with five wonderful women, also writing about the travels of their hearts:
Heather~ Journey Toward a Prayerful LifeKris~ Journey Out of FearErika~ Journey Into the WordEmily~ Journey Toward RestNicole~ Journey of Providence