"The gift of a kindred friendship is that it can cause you to see yourself
truly, while calling you to a better version of yourself"
We all have these great people around us as examples. Their lives tell us what faith means.
So we, too, should run the race that is before us and never quit. We should remove from our lives anything that would slow us down and the sin that so often makes us fall.
I shrank into the side of the cold brick wall outside the comedy club, anxiety had attacked again and I had fled! Fled from the stage I was about to perform on, ran in terror before strangers and friends. I was devastated, so disappointed in myself and yet felt completely helpless against it at the time. I breathed deeply taking in the cool night air and regained myself as much as I could. Stooped over, the feet of my friends appeared at my side. I was embarrassed but glad to see they'd followed me out, "What are you doing Jacqui?", I looked them in the eye sheepishly, "I panicked, I couldn't go through with it, there were so many people looking at me, I just had to get out". There was a moment of silence, "Gee, I'm so shocked you did that, I never thought you'd do something like this, I'm so disappointed". My heart sank, they were only confirming how I already thought about myself but it felt like a fist to the gut all the same. They walked away and I made my way home alone. These were the friends I had surrounded myself with, something had to change.
I am so thankful today for the incredible women in my life who speak truth to my heart enabling me to be honest, and yet reflecting Christ back to me, giving encouragement to press on. But life's not always been like this and maybe it's not like this for you right now. Often times we feel like Elijah, "God, I'm all alone, I just want to die!". We know that's not true but it sure feels true!
Sometimes we find ourselves in a circle which we've outgrown. I don't know why we don't expect ourselves to change over time, or that others won't. How often have you gone away for a season or been moved out of a circle only to discover a new version of yourself. It can be hard then to step back into the old world as that old self. We can be held back by other's expectations and likewise, be the holding force in other's personal growth.
A lonely stretch of road awaits those who pursue change. Loneliness can be a gift in those seasons though, an opportunity to know yourself deeply and know God more intimately, you're leaning on the everlasting arms in a way you never would have otherwise. But it is just a stretch, pretty soon, as you keep pointing yourself in the right direction you'll begin to find and gather your tribe, the tribe that speaks your language, the language of your heart.
You have to go after it, this circle, even one other likeminded friend. Someone who will be a mirror to you, who'll speak truth to your heart wrapped in love, love you for who you are, and yet be the fan to the flames of change you desire in yourself.
Books make great friends and mentors if you don't have any in the flesh, search out the voices you need to take you forward and pray! Be alert for those around you who might be your people, you'll be surprised where you might find them.
The chairs pictured above sit silent and empty now but this image reminds me of what can and does exist; a circle of support and shared vision, a cloud of witnesses cheering me on. I recently sat in this huddle of chairs encompassed about by like-minded women and marvelled at how friendship can show us where we really are yet grow us at the same time. God himself says that as we look upon the Word we see who we really are and as our gaze meets that of Christ’s we see our reflection with all its shortcomings yet have our eyes lifted to His perfection (James 1). Kindred, godly friendships have the power to do the same. Friendships that call out, "Hey, you're doing so great, amazing, but keep going, just a litter further, you can do it!".
So let me remind you today friend, you're amazing, you're doing so great, but keep going, just a little further, you can do it! I'm praying you get in that circle or find that one to help lift you when you need it most.