I haven’t written here in so long. I’m still debating whether or not to move platforms to Blogspot or something as Tumblr doesn’t really seem like a traditional blogging venue anymore. Will have to investigate… though who am I kidding? I’m also super lazy and I’ve been on this Tumblr for 5+ years already.
So I have many blog posts that have been brewing in my mind. I feel like my husband as we have a running joke that he should Tweet out names of blogs he will never write. He’ll always make comments about how he should write about some matter (usually a spiritual one… I know, surprise surprise haha) and then we’ll “hashtag” it #blogsthatkennywillneverwrite.
Here’s my attempt at getting some thoughts down on a topic that’s been on my mind for quite a while now:
Recently I’ve been thinking a lot about relationships, namely the friendship kind. And how marriage is truly a life-transforming relationship because you can’t or at least are not supposed to quit marriage. But friendships, people quit them all the time. And are all friendships meant to last the ages? No, probably not. And should they? No, I think there are times when it’s okay to let the flame die. But I also feel like there are other friendships that we are often too quick to give up on due to conflict or change.
What got me thinking is that there are a few major friendships in my life that are enduring change. What has changed? Upon investigation, I realized the main agent of change has been, well, me. I like to think I’ve changed/grown a lot in the past couple years primarily due to dating and marrying Kenny, but also due to the Lord growing and changing me.
I think the biggest area of change is that I’m a lot bolder now and more willing to have opinions in the first place, and second to share them even if I know they could cause offense or conflict. I think this came about primarily through being a companion to Kenny (who is outspoken and opinionated at times and yes sometimes possibly enjoys it a little too much haha) and also through studying Jesus in the book of Matthew a couple years ago. Jesus Himself, though supremely loving, was also someone who called people out. He had no qualms about challenging others (in love of course) when it came to issues of sin that hindered people from growing closer to God.
And that really is why He called people out. Because He realized sin meant roadblocks between His people and Him and He didn’t want ANYTHING hindering that relationship. (Which reminds me of another brewing post: “So what’s so great about holiness?”)
So especially in one friendship (I’m sure you’ll know who you are when you read this and we can discuss more… haha) I’ve been getting more and more vocal about not just big things, but small things too, and I’ve realized it’s changed the dynamic and it’s sometimes uncomfortable and not fun and sometimes I leave feeling frustrated and I’m sure the converse is true even moreso. Because of the increase of conflict, on both ends at times it might seem easier just to decide that things have changed and this is just getting too hard and maybe we should push away from each other for a bit. And I guess that’s when I realized why marriage is so transformative. Because you can’t leave. When one party changes for better or worse and it requires both people to mature and grow and give grace and bend and even break– marriage means you stick it out until one or both of you changes and things aren’t so rough anymore! Whereas friendship… friendships are a little easier to abandon.
But leaving difficult friendships means we rob ourselves of the opportunity to change. We forgo the chance to love when it gets tough, to love when we disagree, to give up the sin that ensnares, to humble ourselves when it’s our pride and condemnation of another getting in the way. We rob ourselves of love. Yes, the receipt of it, but also the opportunity to give it even when it’s hard.
Again, I’m not saying we need to cling to every friendship we have, but I think God will highlight certain relationships where He wants us to endure and cry and struggle and pray and not give up with the hope that He will eventually turn the tides (usually as He gives the grace to mature/change) and make everything okay.
Yes I have gotten bolder and more aware of things that bother me, but just because I’ve grown in that one area doesn’t mean I’m supremely right and that’s it for growth in me. No. I need to continue growing and allowing God to grow me in grace and humility, love, and the act of covering. I need Him to give me eyes to see people as He sees them. Yes, I am a better friend if I am not permissive and am willing to do what the Bible says and correct in love, but I’m actually not a good friend at all if I let that realization of another’s shortcoming lead me to pride and condemnation.
And what about the converse? Am I conversely open to correction? Because up until this point I have definitely been the type to run from those who correct me. Recently looking back at my junior year college journal, I wanted to slap myself because I ran so hard from people who were trying to correct me and confront my relationship idolatry (thankfully the Lord killed that one by force later on!). Looking at those entries I want to yell at myself “Listen to them– they’re speaking the truth! Stop running!!!”
So I confess. I have too been a relationship quitter. It’s definitely the easier way, but in the end what do we miss out on by quitting?
When I think about Jesus, I often think about Ms. A because she is the most tangible version of Jesus I can think of. When I think of both, I see their relentless zeal for the truth and righteousness, but even more than that, their tremendous love for God and people.
In the short year I’ve been at DOH, I’ve heard a good amount of stories from Ms. A about correction, and have also gotten to see her in action first hand. The thing is, though people are often initially upset with Ms. A for confronting their sin, the vast majority of them eventually really do listen and try to soften their hearts because they realize from all the experiences they’ve had with her prior to that instance, she loves them SO SO much. She’s called people out on many different things: pride, unforgiveness, sexual sin, a sharp tongue, just to name a few. And like I said, from the small to the large things, people eventually listen because they KNOW deep down that she loves them sooooooo much.
So in the end, yes, it’s cool that I’m not such a doormat anymore, but are my boldness and words of correction coming out of love? And how is my love? Do I truly truly love others? To the point where my stomach hurts (as Ms. A) says? To the point where I want the absolute best for them? To the point where I have zero regard for myself and lay my life down for them? Do I truly consider them better than me? Are they always on my mind? Because a lot of times the only person on my mind is myself…
My loves falls so so short. And that’s just with my friends and family, the people I openly say that I love!
Oh that God would help me grow in love and grace. Oh that He would make me more like His Son!
There’s so much growth to be had. But thankful that God is patient and that He will help me in my weakness, and ultimately that He is love.