Your friends and loved ones are inside the inner most core of your sphere of influence. I have learned that who you associate and surround yourself with is a direct reflection of how you feel about yourself. In other words your friends are truly a reflection of you. Your relationships especially the friends you choose are extremely important in your walk with God. At times they could mean the difference between back sliding and pressing forward towards Him. It is important to choose friends that will uplift, support, encourage and understand your walk with God. If your friends are constantly trying to get you to do things you know are wrong, are always discouraging the things you try to do for the Kingdom or just have a general negative attitude about your journey you may want to consider loving them from a distance. At least until you are stable enough in your walk with Christ to resist the pull of the world. As Christians our goal is to bring people closer to God not have them pull us towards worldly ways. In 1 Corinthians 9:27 Paul says ‘But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway’. So it is possible that after all of our attempts to show people the light that we ourselves can be castaway if we do not practice self-control and continually renew our minds and spirits with the word.
In order to have healthy and Godly friendships we have to know how to be a great friend. This is one thing that I try to be purposeful about in my life because I truly value the positive, genuine friendships that God has given me to develop while on earth. Just as in any relationship, communication, listening and speaking life into your friend is so very important. I didn’t always have great friendships and I had to learn how to be a friend to the people God had placed into my life. Growing up I was bullied in school a LOT, I can remember going home crying most days because I was this socially awkward, uber quiet, lanky girl that was the tallest female in my grade (any grade) to top it off I had super short hair that refused to allow a little thing like a comb or brush to tame it. Basically, think of a black Olive Oil with a fro-perm! Unfortunately I never stood up for myself and would allow others to walk over me and speak to me any type of way. I ate their words, literally internalizing them and they manifested in the form of tears, hurt and self hatred. The more I heard that I was ugly, had nappy hair, was a nerd and weirdo the more I believed it. I brought a lot of those feelings about myself into my adult life through insecurities and negative self talk. I didn’t like me, I didn’t know who and whose I was. Yes, bullying can affect people so much that they carry it with them for years! But because of these insecurities and lack of self-love, I didn’t feel worthy of love. I allowed people to surround me that didn’t have my best interest at heart, this included friends and romantic partners. They would call me a friend to my face and talk about me behind my back, steal from me or make fun of me I would laugh with them on the outside but tears filled me internally. My boyfriend at the time claimed to love me, but the relationship was filled with anger and abuse because neither one of us knew how to love, ourselves or each other. Now there were a couple of people that I believed to be true friends and they are still around today, two people to be exact, but some people I truly had to learn to love from afar. I can remember going through an ordeal with one of my then friends where everything came to a head and I had to stop speaking to her. It was difficult because I thought we were best friends. She wasn’t a bad person at all, but not someone that uplifted and encouraged me. Around this time I wrote a letter to God to bring me friends where our relationship would be one of mutual support and genuine sisterly love. And guess what! God has answered my prayers, because that’s just what He does! God has since sent some awesome people my way that I truly love and consider chosen family. I have positive, uplifting and inspiring relationships with them and best of all they push me towards God through conversations, bible studies, invites to spiritual events and much more. This is in part because I learned that in order to have great friends, you have to be a great friend. I had to search my own heart and see where I contributed to my friendships in the past falling apart or why I chose those type of people to have in my circle. I make a conscious effort to check my selfishness at the door, to remember important things going on in my friend’s lives and to make a special effort to reach out and keep in touch. Because I’m human I fail, but when I do I woman up and attempt to make it right. Many times the efforts we have to make are small but there are times our friends will need us most, a big move, an illness or loss of a loved one and we should always try to be there for them. So often when we get boyfriends or husbands we forget about our sister friends that we traveled with while single or life just gets busy and we can forget to cultivate and tend to these relationships. But if we want the sweet fruit of a genuine, supportive, caring relationship we have to put in the work and effort to make it grow and blossom. My girlfriends are my confidents, my sisters in Christ and my truth tellers when I don’t want to hear the truth. I can count the number of people on one hand that I consider true friends and honestly quantity means nothing to me without quality so I’m extremely grateful for the few I have. I thank God for my friends and the things I went through growing up, it made me so much more appreciative of them and without the occurrences in my past I wouldn’t have a story to tell which hopefully will help others master the art of friendship.
Here’s to a purposeFULL life #kingdomfocused
Hebrews 10:24-25 (ESV) 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 you see the Day drawing near.