This post isn’t starting with a cute analogy or quirky anecdote. Let’s jump right in: the past couple weeks have been tough. To say the least. I’ve been frustrated and discouraged, and exhausted emotionally, physically and spiritually. And on top of all of this, I have had to lean on friends and community regularly, which is borderline painful for someone who loves to be as self-sufficient as I do.
My circumstances over the past few weeks have put me in a position to do something that I find extremely uncomfortable: let the people I surround myself with become true friends who actually know me.
I’ve had to open up, own my struggles and let people know the parts of me that aren’t so put-together. Relying on other people is just plain hard for me, especially when I haven’t known them that long. I fear that I am a burden and fear that the people I love and invest in will bail on me in some way or another. If it were up to me, I would prefer to have friends who I can love, but only get to know me up to a certain point. Then there would be a big ‘DO NOT TRESPASS’ sign planted firmly in the ground, right in front of the deep wounds and the messy sins I aim to fight on my own.
But God is so much kinder than to let me make the call on that one.
In the midst of some extremely frustrating, discouraging and trying days he has planted me in a community that has stepped up in ways so far past my expectations. Every single time I’ve interacted with them they have reframed my view of friendship. They have truly gone above and beyond in every scenario. God perfectly wove my story in with those of other women who are trying to figure out this whole Jesus thing too. And he graciously picked people who are extremely generous, filled with truth and loving in a way radically different than what our culture teaches.
These are the people who let you come sleep on their couch when you call in the middle of the night having a panic attack and then make you oatmeal in the morning and ask how your soul is. They are the rare humans who show up over and over, even when you’re being stubborn and they have to force you into their car to talk about why you’re being dumb and isolating yourself. They emulate a perfect picture of relentless pursuit – the same way Jesus pursues every single one of His children.
I kid you not, after one of my freak outs over having to rely on real friendship, one of these wonderful gals told me I could either drive myself to Bible Study so they could love on me or I could try to run away and they’d run 50,000 miles after me, tie me up and drag me there. (I told her 50,000 miles sounded exhausting so driving sounded like a better alternative.)
Today another friend reminded me that even though things are hard and I feel like I’m falling apart a lot of the time, Jesus pursues me day in and day out – no matter what life throws. That statement epitomizes so much truth and one of the most beautiful characteristics of our God. And I think God loves to echo his divine qualities in our lives in tangible ways.
When my day is long and draining and even brutal, these friends are often the most tangible example of pursuit I have. And while my instinct is to flinch away from that and be more self-sufficient, I think it is actually so good for me to lean into their friendship and accept help when I need it. There is a beautiful lesson to be learned in allowing myself to be loved and cared for by a godly community. It’s actually rather silly that my initial intention (though somewhat subconscious) was to join a community and just pour out without wanting to accept anything in return or offer up vulnerability. That isn’t a picture of the church and it isn’t a biblical way to have Christian community.
To be in community and share our burdens with one another is not a burden in itself. It is in fact an opportunity for Jesus to reveal his presence to everyone involved. If we never admit our pain to each other, we miss out on getting to celebrate God’s redemption and healing in each other’s lives. Allowing people to love you isn’t a burden – it is a blessing to you and to them.
I’m still learning this on a daily basis. Every time I am with my friends or receive their kindness, I have to lay down my pride, fear and self-sufficiency and instead choose humility, grace and confidence in Christ. It is no mistake that I have these friends or this community. It is divine intervention. To view it as anything less would be to dismiss God’s kindness and creativity – spitting in the face of the Creator of the universe.
So instead I am entering into this season with gratitude for the people God has placed in my life. I am giving myself grace as I learn to let my walls down and admit my faults. And I am enraptured in awe for God who grows me constantly. Praise be to God that he does not let us sit in our sin, but transforms us day by day through relentless pursuit in Spirit and in community.