By: Traci Little
I glance down at my worn-out t-shirt and faded jeans and wish I would have put on those cute earrings and fashionable jacket. Why did I go with the messy bun look, again? Why does she look so pretty, and I feel so frumpy?
Have you been there as a Christian woman? Unfortunately, this type of thinking is not reserved for just the teenage years. Women struggle with this type of thinking into adulthood!
Our own fears of not measuring up can be the one thing hindering us from the authentic relationships that we are craving. What if we were truly real with others? Are you and I willing to get rid of our people-pleasing tendencies? Perhaps it’s our own insecurities that have gotten in the way of getting to know someone new. What would happen if we forgot about ourselves, and reached out to that woman we assume is snooty or too good for us? We might find that they aren’t at all how we pictured them to be! We may discover that we have so much in common and that they are so encouraging to our walk with the Lord. If we don’t want others to assume things about us, we need to stop doing it to other women. We can let our insecurities hinder us from establishing a new lifelong friendship.
Here are some practical ways to strive for authentic friendship:
Throw Away Your Assumptions: We look foolish when we make assumptions, and we don’t like it when others assume things about us. We need to stop making them about others and refuse to accept the ones that people place on us! What does God think about us? How does He see me today? Our assumptions keep us from living in freedom and are preventing us from authentic friendship.
Forget About Perfect: You and I will never have a perfect body, home, marriage, or family. We must give up the illusion of perfection. Just as dust appears upon our countertops daily, there will be dust in areas of our life and in the places that we try to hide or cover up. Let’s crumple up all the assumptions we’ve created in our minds and toss them in the trash. Let’s stop worrying about what others think of us. It’s not worth it. As long as we are walking closely with God and seeking Him first and His will for our life, we’re good.
Say What You Really Feel: Instead of saying the things we think people want to hear, what if you and I truly spoke our heart? It may look messy and ugly at first. It might mean saying that you are having a crappy day instead of just saying you are good. It might look like sharing some trials and asking for sincere prayers from those you love. What if we were truly honest about the struggles in our marriage? Being honest is a huge step towards authentic friendship.
Love Others Well: To love others well, we need to let down our walls. We must surrender our fears. We must start following through with what we say. It begins with stopping the mentality that “it is the thought that counts,” and actually doing the work that love requires. Call that friend today. Invest in them!
Take The Time To Heal: We are all in need of healing. Whether it be physical, emotional, or spiritual wounds, there are seasons of our life that we need some quiet space to reflect. It’s not selfish to take the time to do this. Say “no” when you have the opportunity. Go to the gym. Eat healthily. Go for a walk. Forgive that person. Spend time quietly before the Lord. Whatever healing looks like for you, take the time to do it today. We must give space to our friends to do the same and not take their silence personally.
Live Without Regrets: The enemy will try to condemn and remind us of all our mistakes and failures. We must not give Him this power. If we are faithful to meet with God each day, He will show us some amazing things! Christ takes pleasure in our time with Him. Embrace the process of learning more of Him. We must live in the abundance of His grace! He is such a gracious teacher! When we live like this, we become better friends with others. Walking in shame prevents us from deep friendship.
Be A Good Listener: To be a good listener, we need to stop thinking about what we want to say next. It takes active and purposeful slowing down of personal agendas. It takes stripping down walls of pride and arrogant ways. It takes time. Time to shut up and receive instead of talking so much.
Think The Best In Others: It can be easy for us to think the worst in others, in order to feel better about ourselves. This is pride. If we come to our own false conclusions about why a person acts the way that they do, it is hard to retrain our thinking. Today, start thinking the best of that person. Start by praying for that person. Ask God to show you that woman through the eyes of Christ.
Friendship With God: We must seek to be on terms of friendship with our Heavenly Father. He must be closer than any friend we have on this earth. We can’t look at prayer with Him as a means to an end but understand that it is what our soul really needs. Spending time in God’s Word must be our priority over food, social media, and even family. We can all start somewhere. Each day let’s find time to read and let His Word penetrate our minds and heart. Meditating on what He speaks to us about will make a difference. To really love God means we need to spend quality time with Him. Let’s personally invite Him to reveal things to us He’s never done before. He will likely require some deep, soul-searching on our part. He is desiring to show us great and mighty things! Jeremiah 33:3 says, Call unto me, and I will answer thee, and show thee great and mighty things, which thou knowest not. To find authentic friendship, we need to first be growing our friendship with God.
- Traci Little lives in Ashland, Ohio and is a freelance writer with the Tribune-Courier paper. She writes at www.tracimichele.com and loves photography and storytelling.