Feed My Sheep


The Lord has recently given me a revelation about something, regarding my calling, and I felt like sharing it here. 

A few years ago, I kept hearing the words, “Feed My sheep.” Occasionally, this comes to mind again. Not too long ago, I remembered this and it reminded me of John 21:15-17. In these verses, Jesus asks Simon Peter if he loves Him. When Peter says that he does, Jesus asks him to feed His sheep. This happens three times. (Three seems to be a common number with Peter, I’ve noticed. He doesn’t seem to get things the first time around.) As I was considering this passage, I realized something. God has clearly placed a call on my life to be a shepherd. Ironically enough, my last name is Shepard. When I take the Spiritual Gifts Test online, Pastor/Shepherd is always in my top five scoring gifts. When this happened the first time, it took me by surprise because “pastor” sounds terrifying. I do not want to be speaking in front of people. However, when I read the definition of this gift, it makes a lot more sense. 

“In the Biblical context, shepherds had several different responsibilities to their sheep and ultimately, to the owner of the sheep. They kept a lookout for predators and protected the sheep from attackers. They cared for wounded and sick sheep, nursing them back to health. They rescued them if they became lost or trapped. They spent enormous amounts of time with them guiding them to places of nourishment and rest. The result was a trust and relationship that kept the sheep following the shepherd. The sheep were attuned to the shepherd’s voice to the point that even if they were temporarily mixed with another herd, at the call of the shepherd they would separate and follow him.” https://spiritualgiftstest.com/spiritual-gifts/ 

On top of this, my second highest gift is Mercy. In my opinion, mercy works alongside shepherding. The website describes mercy this way: 

“All Christians are called to be merciful because God has been merciful to us (Matthew 18:33; Ephesians 2:4-6). The Greek word for the spiritual gift of mercy is Eleeo. It means to be patient and compassionate toward those who are suffering or afflicted. The concern for the physical as well as spiritual need of those who are hurting is covered by the gift of mercy. Those with this gift have great empathy for others in their trials and sufferings. They are able to come alongside people over extended periods of time and see them through their healing process. They are truly and literally the hands and feet of God to the afflicted.

The Holy Spirit gives the spiritual gift of mercy to some in the church to love and assist those who are suffering, and walk with them until The Lord allows their burden to be lifted. The gift of mercy is founded in God’s mercy towards us as sinners and is consistently expressed with measurable compassion. Those with this gift are able to “weep with those who weep” (Romans 12:15) and “bear one another’s burdens” (Galatians 6:2). They are sensitive to the feelings and circumstances of others and can quickly discern when someone is not doing well. They are typically good listeners and feel the need to simply “be there” for others.”

This post may not mean much to those who read it, but it is helpful for me to put my thoughts into words. 

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Fear

Something that I have been trying to do lately is work on recognizing what fears and things from my past have caused the issues and personality problems that I deal with today. Last year my sociology teacher told us that it is typically during this age, 18-30, that people tend to begin to realize the circumstances and situations that have brought them to where they are today. It is then that they realize that their family wasn’t perfect or that certain things happened that have caused them to have certain struggles in their early adult life. Being out of your parents’ home definitely brings new perspective. Don’t get me wrong, I am most certainly not about to tell you that I hate my family or that my parents ruined me. I love my family. I tell my mom pretty much everything. However, just like everyone else’s family, mine is not perfect. Families are built of multiple personality types (Especially if you have seven people like I do!). It is highly likely that not everyone’s deepest needs will be met all of the time. I have been trying to discover why I deal with certain things that I deal with. I am mainly doing this to help myself process everything I have been learning.

One of the biggest things has been fear. I have honestly lived in a constant fear (of everything) for most of my life. Anxiety is something I deal with on and off, depending on the season I am in. I took a core fears assessment in psychology and my top three core fears are rejection, abandonment and feeling like a failure. I know that these are 100% accurate, but I couldn’t figure out where they were stemming from ultimately. Typically, fears like that are caused by something that had happened in the past, but I couldn’t think of anything that could have happened. Now, I am aware that sometimes things can be completely blocked out in our memories, but I truly don’t think anything major like that has happened to me.

I was talking to my mom about all of this one night, trying to figure out where these fear come from. She was able to help me see something that I had never seen before. All of these fears ultimately come from a massive fear of loss. I think that loss is truly my core fear. Rejection, abandonment and feeling like a failure are all like sub-fears (if that’s a thing). Throughout my childhood, I never really felt secure. We moved a lot and a lot of promises were made and broken concerning where we would live. Eventually, home was no longer a place for me but people. I learned to be so detached from my physical home that I then attached myself to people. It wasn’t healthy at all. I developed seperation anxiety, even as an adult. Any time the person I feel safest or the most secure with leaves, I get really bad anxiety and can’t stop thinking about all the bad things that could possibly happen to them. This fear of loss also revealed itself in my dreams as a young teenager. There were many nights that I would be unable to sleep because I would be so filled with dread. I would eventually fall asleep, but then I would have dreams about natural disasters destroying everything or someone killing my family in various ways. I don’t have dreams like this as often anymore, but I still deal with it in other ways. I become so fearful of losing relationships that I get too clingy and attached to people. This typically causes people to leave the relationship, which then causes the fears of rejection, abandonment and feeling like a failure. It’s an endless cycle. Plus separation anxiety is a really bad side effect to having attachment issues.

So, now that I know my fears, how am I learning to address them?

To be honest, I wasn’t exactly sure how to go about addressing them. But, cool story, I am required to read this book as a part of my practicum for school.  It is called Crash the Chatterbox by Steven Furtick. If I’m being completely honest (might as well be, since I already have been), I was not looking forward to reading this book. I am not a huge fan of Steven Furtick, so I was a bit skeptical, but y’all, this book is completely changing the way I think about things. I would recommend that everyone read it. The subtitle of the book is “Hearing God’s Voice Above All Others.” Furtick focuses on controlling our inner thought life, regarding four specific areas: insecurity, fear, condemnation, and discouragement. He doesn’t focus so much on learning to control or change your inner thought life, but rather learning to allow God’s voice to be louder than the “Chatterbox.” Each chapter has been exactly what I needed to hear at the time that I read it. I haven’t been able to get more than a few pages in without highlighting something.  Now that I’ve practically written a book review, let me tell you how Furtick helped change the way I see fear.

He said that we have to learn to assess the fear, rather than obsess over the fear. He said in order to assess the fear, you must ask yourself, “What specifically am I afraid of?” He goes on to say, “Instead of being swept away by a vague, unspecified feeling of fear, I’ve identified a fact that is driving the fear. Once I’ve identified what the fear is, I can objectively look at how it needs to be handled.” He then goes on to explain the process he walks himself through in order to overcome the fears. He first asks the question that our brains naturally ask when facing a fear…”What if?” What if (fill in the blank) happened? But instead of allowing his mind to run with this, as is natural, he follows it up with a phrase that seems contradictory. He then says, “That would.” He follows the imaginary circumstance through and figures out how this horrible thing would affect him, even if it leads him to the worst possible scenario. For example, he used a scenario that hit a little too close to home at the moment: “What if the person closest to me leaves? Whom would I talk to, confide in, depend on? That would be the loneliest season and most devastating blow I’ve ever had to endure. For a while I’d probably feel like I couldn’t go on. I’d feel like a part of me was gone.” But here’s the deal, he doesn’t stop here. Now comes my favorite part; it somehow blew my mind, even though it is the most obvious thing and has been staring me in the face this whole time…  He states “God will.”  (Duh. Right?) But he’s right. If you truly believe in God, you KNOW that God will pull you through whatever it is. He is sovereign. It reminded me of a quote from a friend, “When you hit rock bottom, that’s when you realize that God is the Rock at the bottom.” God promised us that He will never leave us (Deuteronomy 31:6), so why do we allow fear to petrify us? Furtick says, “God WILL get me through this. Somehow. Some way. No matter what happens.” The fact of the matter is that we have no reason to act or feel defeated, especially not prematurely, because God has already won, and if we are in Christ, so have we.

Ultimately,

“The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside quiet waters. He restores my soul; He guides me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.”  Psalm 23:1-4

New Beginnings

Every year as I was growing up, I would often either ask, or be asked, to write our family year in review. I loved doing it. I loved reflecting on everything God had done in our lives and looking to see how far we’ve come since the last time I wrote a letter. Well, I’m no longer living at home, and sending out letters is no longer feasible or very practical. So, I’ve just taken to writing blog posts.

2017 has been an interesting year for me. It has been my first year out of the house and on my own. About half of the year was really wonderful and half of it was kind of hard and trying for me. There have been many lessons learned and a lot of things have been brought to the surface that I didn’t realize I had forced down.

If you had asked me a couple of years ago where I would have seen myself two years, I would not have said that I would be finished with my first year of college, about to start my sophomore year in a few days. I also would not have said that my GPA would be a 3.8 for the year (my high school GPA was 3.1, and I was terrified of not doing well in college, because I didn’t think I was smart) or that I would have the year paid off (not including student loans, unfortunately). It’s honestly crazy to think about this journey that God has me on. Coming to school at James River College was the best decision I have ever made. Sure, there have been hard times, many of them, but I know that God is moving and working in me even still. “For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.” – Philippians 1:6 (NASB)

My first semester was amazing. I had three of the BEST roommates that I could have asked for. My apartment felt like home (I actually get homesick for it, in fact). My classes were incredible. I fell in love with Psychology and I had the best teacher in Spiritual Formation and Discipleship. Both classes changed my life in ways I didn’t even know were possible.

This summer was pretty much spent either working, or binge-watching Netflix. I also had the most amazing birthday. I also went canoeing for the first time in August, so that was pretty great.

The fall semester was a lot harder for me. It was hard spiritually, emotionally and physically. I was blessed to be working two jobs, and it really helped a lot financially. However, it is very physically exhausting to work two jobs and go to school full time. I felt like I had very little time to myself. Any free time I did have was devoted to homework. I felt like I missed out on opportunities to be with friends, and even worse, I was definitely lacking on personal time with God. The only thing I felt like I was succeeding in was my schooling. My friendships were steadily going downhill because I was becoming increasingly focused on myself, and meeting my needs, rather than giving and serving. When I felt like giving it was because it made ME happy. I wasn’t doing it with the right heart. And I was constantly expecting things in return. If you’re expecting things in return to your giving, is it truly giving? That leads into another thing. It was brought to my attention that I really struggle with the concept of unconditional love. For some reason, I tend to think that I have to earn love, and that love can be lost. This ultimately stems from a few different things from my childhood, and I am honestly not sure how to work through it yet. If love can be lost, was it really love in the first place? I used to believe that I didn’t really care what others thought of me, but the truth is, I actually really do. Way more than I should. This whole concept of unconditional love and not really grasping it has ultimately affected every relationship that I have had and currently have. I live in constant fear that I will be abandoned or rejected because I was not “good enough” for someone. This has also spurred on an unconscious bad habit that seems contradictory. I tend to hurt the people that I care the most about. I think I have discovered that I do this in order to prove that they really do love me. Can I push them too far? Will there be a point where they will stop loving me? I don’t understand why I do this, and I often do it without meaning to. Besides, why in the world would I want to push away the very people that truly matter the most to me? It doesn’t make sense. It is nice to know that Paul had the same struggles. “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.” – Romans 7:15 (NIV) These are things I am working on now that I have come to realize they are a problem. They aren’t the easiest things to work through, but they have become so detrimental to every part of my life, especially my friendships, that I now have no choice but to work on them. It’s so deep that it seems daunting and impossible, but I’m not doing this on my own. “But you are not controlled by your sinful nature. You are controlled by the Spirit if you have the Spirit of God living in you. The Spirit of God, who raised Jesus from the dead, lives in you. And just as God raised Christ Jesus from the dead, he will give life to your mortal bodies by this same Spirit living within you.” – Romans 8:9, 11 (NLT)

Here’s to a new year, and a new me (but only by the grace of God).

Thank you to all of my friends that made my 2017 amazing: Macy, Madi, Destiny, Christina, Kendall, Kaitland and Sierra. You guys are top notch and I love each of you so much. Thank you for putting up with my crazy.

What’s in Your Hand?

Something that I have been struggling with is understanding my purpose and my calling, as well as how to use the gifts that I have been given to further the kingdom of God. Lately, Matthew 25:23 and 29 have been on my mind and heart a lot. It has also been brought up a few times recently through other people. In the parable of the talents, the master gives his servants each a specific amount of money. It was not necessarily a large sum. He had asked them to take care of his money for him while he was gone.  The first two servants took the money they were given and they invested it, so that when their master returned, they had an even larger sum to give back to him. The third servant simply took his amount and buried it in a field because he was afraid of how his master would react if he did anything else with it. The master was far more pleased with the first two than the third. To them he said, “Well done, my good and faithful servant. You have been faithful in handling this small amount, so now I will give you many more responsibities. Let’s celebrate together!” (Matthew 25:23 NLT) Later on, in verse 29, he says, “To those who use well what they are given, even more will be given, and they will have an abundance. But from those who do nothing, even what little they have will be taken away.”

Growing up, I really had a hard time with sermons about talents and gifts. I never felt good at anything. I didn’t know what I wanted to be when I grew up.  Talking about using your gifts for the kingdom really stressed me out and made me feel awful about myself because, in my mind, I had nothing to offer. I felt useless.

At this point, I have a fairly strong grasp on my giftings and strengths. Yet, even now, I struggle with this. When people find out that I go to a leadership college/ministry school, usually their first question is, “What area of ministry do you feel called to?” To be honest, I’m not completely sure. I watch everyone around me and all of them are here for a specific area of ministry, whether it’s pastoral, children’s or youth ministry, worship… They all know their calling. I don’t feel called to preach, I can’t sing, and I’m not the best with kids. I never had that “summer camp” moment where I had a specific calling placed on my life. Here is what I have learned though, sometimes our callings aren’t huge. They don’t have to look like everyone else’s. Our gifts can be the same way.  My gifts are often small scale and more “behind the scenes.” Just because I don’t speak or sing doesn’t mean that I can’t use the gifts God has given to me for His kingdom. My spiritual gifts are Discernment (“The divine strength to clearly recognize and distinguish between the spiritual influences and motivations at work in a situation.”), Exhortation (“The divine strength or ability to encourage others through the written or spoken word and biblical truth.”), Shepherd (“The divine strength or ability to care for the personal needs of others by nurturing and mending life issues.”), Prophecy (“The divine strength or ability to boldly speak and bring clarity to Scriptural and doctrinal truth, in some cases Fortelling God’s plan.”), and Mercy (“The divine strength or ability to feel empathy and to care for those who are hurting in anyway.”)* All of these gifts are ones that I operate in on a daily basis. Some more than others, and sometimes, I’m not even aware of when it is happening. For instance, I use Exhortation a lot more than I realize. I know this because I often have people tell me that God used me to speak to them and encourage them. Most of the time, I don’t even know what they are referring to. I do know that gifts combined with the power of the Holy Spirit are so much more powerful. Not to mention the fact that when gifts are used in the Holy Spirit, then He will work through the Holy Spirit. So then, it is not through us, but through the power of the Spirit. 

My gifts ARE important and God IS using them. When I get discouraged and start feeling like I don’t have enough to give, God reminds me that I have to be faithful with a little so that He can put me over much. Not only that, but my reward is also far greater. Sometimes I feel like what I do isn’t enough but my gifts are used to invest into people individually. I think that this is an area that is not often reached. At times, it can mean far more to have someone encourage and invest in you, to hold you accountable and to help you grow in your faith. I know that I appreciate it when I receive it from others. What a blessing it is to be that person for people! I am thankful that God is helping me to realize my gifts and talents and to be appreciative of them as I learn how to use them to further His kingdom. He has given me glimpses of how my gifts have been used and reminded me that I am valuable. It is now my job to be faithful with what He has chosen to give me.

What has God given you? How are you being faithful with it, in order to multiply it? 

*To help you find out what your giftings are, take the spiritual gifts assessment

Wait.

I debated on sharing this publicly or not, but I know a lot of you have been praying with me so I’d like to let you know what God has done. This is not to brag, but on God.

So, at the beginning of the month I was dealing with a lot of doubt on whether I was really supposed to be at James River College or not because my financial situation was impossible. I was supposed to pay over $1,000 for 4 months. There was a small mistake with some of my scholarships that benefited me, but it still wasn’t enough. I prayed a lot over the situation and what to do. I could have gone to live back at home, but I don’t have a car at the moment. So, either way I moved I would be paying for either housing and meals or I would have to buy a car. During this time I was praying I felt a peace on my heart with continuing to live on campus. At the same time, God would whisper one word to my heart in my times of prayer: Wait. I knew it meant to wait to register but I’m the kind of person who does everything as soon as I can to get it done as efficiently as possible. Telling me to wait until last minute to do something is going to do nothing but make me very stressed. I suppose it was His way of making sure I gave Him control. So, I waited. Well, I stressed while I waited mostly. And, I’m not going to lie, I did take things back into my own hands a few times.

Fast forward to only 6 days before my registration payment is due…

First of all, payday came a whole week earlier than I thought it was supposed to, so I was very excited to be able to finally register. I had recently gotten the amount down to something much more manageable. I logged on to register and the numbers looked all weird. It said that I had a prior semester balance of -$1,000. I triple checked everything because I didn’t understand why that would be the case. I continued to register and went all the way through without paying anything at all. I finally found out that someone anonymously paid $1,000 on my bill. I didn’t even know how to react. I’m pretty sure I was in shock. That was a HUGE unexpected blessing. The Lord truly does go abundantly beyond all that we could ask or imagine.

And My God Will Supply All Your Needs


Guys. I just finished paying off my first semester of college. (Not including student loans of course, but that is not to be worried about now.) I am in awe, because this is something I never expected to be doing, much less, able to afford. I shouldn’t be able to afford it, but God made a way where there was no way. (Do It Again by Elevation Worship… go listen to it.)

I’m not going to lie, this has been a season of doubt on my part. I’m not proud of it. Doubt is something I’ve never struggled with before, but I suppose there’s never been a real reason for me to doubt.

I never planned on going to college, so I didn’t have much money saved for school. There was only 3 months between the time I applied and the time I got accepted, not nearly enough time to save. I had planned on attending the Fall 2016 semester, but I was walking in blindly, refusing to look at the cost. It wasn’t until a few days before classes that I really looked at the big picture and realized that there was no way I could afford to go. I had missed the deadline for Fall scholarships so I would have had to pay more than I make in a year, out of pocket, to be able to attend that semester. Not only that, but I was also taking a huge trip out of the country that September and I was still paying on that. So, I made the decision to wait. It’s not the choice I wanted to make, but I really didn’t have a choice. Looking back, it was much better that I waited. It freed me up to take my trip and not worry about school work. I could have my whole 16/17 loan applied to one semester. I could apply for scholarships. It also gave me time to save more. (Word of advice: Listen to your momma.) Sometimes God puts something in our hearts, but it’s not for now. It’s a hard thing to grasp in the moment, but trust me, waiting on His timing is worth it.

I knew that if God truly called me to JRLC that He would provide. But towards the end of the summer, I started doubting this calling. I started fearing that it was just something that I wanted, rather than something He called me to. I still owed quite a bit, more than I wanted to. I had also made the decision to stay in summer housing, which cost me an additional $600. I originally planned on going home for the summer to save the extra money, but I really didn’t want to. By the time I asked to stay in summer housing it was past the deadline. They said they would consider it. I prayed that if I was supposed to stay that there would be a reason for it, and I understood that if they said no, there was a reason for me to go home. They said yes. In the beginning few weeks it was really hard and I doubted my decision to stay a lot. I couldn’t understand why the answer was yes if there was going to be so much conflict and hurt that came with it. But now I know what the reason for staying was, and I’m so glad I did. A friend needed me to be available for her in a way that I could not have been if I had gone home.

I still began to doubt whether I should continue school though. I couldn’t see the light at the end of the tunnel. I was working 30+ hours a week, sometimes hitting overtime, as well as babysitting. I’ve learned how to live on $20 a week, sometimes two. I was making payments, paying bills, and tithing. I was getting by, but when I calculated everything out, I wouldn’t be able to pay off last semester in time to register for the next semester.

Here’s the thing though… I was trying to figure out how I could afford it. I stopped trusting that God would provide supernaturally. Because I have to pay for my schooling on my own, I took full responsibility for it. I’ve heard tons of stories of people getting random payments made on their bills, but I never imagined that would happen for me, because it never has. I had stopped walking in faith and had started walking in sight. I wasn’t seeing anything. But God. God still moved.

A few weeks ago, during an altar call at church, I felt like God spoke to my heart. He told me to let go and to give everything back to Him. Later the same day, a friend text me completely out of the blue to tell me to stop worrying and to stop trying to take control of my life and to give it back to God. She reminded me that God has a plan for my life and that I needed to stop questioning it. That was honestly a breaking point for me.

Today I paid off my bill.

I want to recognize God’s hand in this and point out the little things that happened to bring it all together.

  • Last semester I was able to get a meal plan scholarship by working in the kitchen.
  • Food has always been provided. I haven’t gone grocery shopping in over a month. I eat free at work, and on the days I don’t work, someone has bought me food.
  • I worked hard over the summer, making faithful payments and continuing to tithe. (Always tithe. Always.)
  • I was given more birthday money than I expected. (You know you’re an adult when your birthday money goes straight into paying tuition…)
  • Someone paid some money on my tuition anonymously. (WHAT!? P.S. If you are reading this, THANK YOU! That made me cry.)
  • I was given a raise at work.
  • I got a second job that I can work after school hours.
  • I got almost all the scholarships I applied for for this semester and next.
  • Not to mention other random things that happened along the way.

I still don’t know how this next semester will work out, but God made it pretty clear that He still wants me here, so here I am. If this wasn’t a lesson in God’s faithfulness and provision, I don’t know what is.

F.R.I.E.N.D.S.


I’m going to be pretty vulnerable in this post. It’s something that I’ve been wanting to write about for a long time, but I never really felt like actually doing it. I wasn’t ready to be publicly vulnerable. One of the biggest things I struggle with in life is friendships and having healthy relationships. I’m about to explain why. 

Growing up, I had pretty good friends. Early on, my two closest friends (not including my brother who was actually my closest friend) were my two girl cousins, Kaitlyn and Samantha. Seperately, I was close to both of them and got along really good with them. Kaitlyn is older, so I felt like I could have “big girl” conversations with her.  She was cool to be around. I really admired and looked up to her. Samantha was younger, the same age as my brother. She was fun to play with and I didn’t get to see her quite as often, so I looked forward to the times I got to see her. However, when it was the three of us together, things always went very differently. Kaitlyn and Samantha had a lot more in common, because they both went to public school and I was homeschooled and couldn’t relate to the things they were talking about. I was often not included in their conversations and left out. I would get angry and throw a fit. This happened more times than I care to admit. I just didn’t fit in, but it hurt because when I was alone with one of them, things were different. 

I never felt like I fit in anywhere. I was always the weird, quiet homeschooler. The only time I was able to make friends was if there was a mutual interest in horses. Even then, I had a hard time making friends. I wasn’t outgoing at all, so starting a conversation with a random person was way too far outside of my comfort zone. I only really talked to people if they approached me first. I didn’t like to talk, and when I did, it was very, very surface. I didn’t let anyone into my world. I hardly even let my family in. Horses were the only thing that got me talking. 

I did have two best friends in elementary, Tori and Kimmie. We went to church together and did everything together. We were close and had sleepovers and stuff, typical girl stuff. We were friends for probably about 4 years. They both started attending different churches and we just kind of drifted apart. It just sort of happened, it was natural. I didn’t really think anything of it.

The longest running, and closest friends I’ve ever had were the daughters of my mom’s best friend. Tricia and Kylie. My brother and I were incredibly close to them for most of our childhood. We spent nearly every day together for several years. They have seen sides of me that even my close friends now haven’t seen. I was never that comfortable around anyone else. After Tricia left for college is when relationships started going downhill for me. I was really upset when she left. I felt like she had betrayed me. I knew things weren’t going to be the same again. 

I was 15 and upset, desperately searching for a new friend. A new best friend. There was a girl in the choir at church that could tell that I needed a friend, so she became my friend. She was ten years older than me and married. This relationship became a huge turning point in my life, and a mile marker in my mind. For a while things were going good. I really looked up to her. But then I took things too far. I texted her every moment of every day, even when I knew she was at work. I went to see her at work a few times. I got more upset than I should have if she didn’t come to church or choir rehearsal. I posted statuses about her daily. I was legitimately obsessed with her.  I idolized her. I didn’t see it at the time though. I made up excuses, like that she was mentoring me and drawing me closer to Christ. But I wasn’t focused on Christ. Then one day she told me that she couldn’t be friends with me anymore. I was an absolute wreck. For the longest time, I was angry at her, not having any idea what I had done. I held onto my pain and hurt for a very long time. It wasn’t until a few years later that I started to see what I had actually done.  I realized that not only did I have to forgive her, but I had to forgive myself. But after that, I was terrified to have friends. I had messed up big time and told myself that I was incapable of having friends. I clearly couldn’t control myself. I didn’t want to hurt anyone again. I didn’t trust myself, and I didn’t deserve to be trusted.

Then Brooke came along shortly after. I was more cautious, but still not enough. I had gotten myself stuck in this endless cycle. I was so terrified of people leaving than I would cling tighter, which would turn into obsessiveness once again, which would in turn push people away.  I didn’t know how to get out of this cycle. I was tired of hurting people, and of people leaving. Brooke had a lot more patience with me than I deserved. She continued to stand by me and encourage me. 7 years later and we are still friends. We don’t talk often, and she’s now married and about to have her first child, but I know that she’ll always be there and that I can call her if I ever need anything. 

Next came Liz. Our relationship was different because we actually hated each other a few years before we became friends. We were really close for several years, but without going into details, we got in a fight because I confronted her about something and that was basically the end of our relationship. We’ve talked since then, and I’ve forgiven her, but we don’t really talk or have a relationship anymore. From this, I dealt with some hurt.  I had considered her my best friend, and all of a sudden she was gone. I vowed to never have a best friend again. Clearly, it wasn’t for me, because it always ended up in hurt, either for them, or for me. However, I didn’t even let myself have friends in general. Sure, I had a few “friends” but they weren’t deep relationships, they were just people that I saw that I liked. None of them invited me to do things, or came to my birthday, or text me, they just were people that I hung out with occasionally. I didn’t even try to invest into them because I didn’t want to go any deeper. 

It wasn’t until two years later, when Ashton told someone that I was her best friend, that I even considered doing the friend thing again. Even then, I waited a whole day before telling her that I considered her my best friend as well. I wanted to be sure that I was ready to try again. I had hoped that I had learned whatever lessons I needed to learn. There’s been moments where I have fallen back into old habits, and we’ve hit some speed bumps along the way. We’re currently on a break, a mutual decision after some frustrations on both ends, but we are still friends.

Now, I have three of the best friends I’ve ever had.  They’ve taught me what a true friend is like. They are encouraging, supportive, loving. They push me, but in good ways. It wasn’t until I stepped back from my relationship with Ashton that I realized what God has placed directly in front of me. I had been praying for godly friends, to teach me how to have a healthy friendship, but I hadn’t realized that they were already in my life. Having more than one best friend has helped with the issue of obsessiveness. I feel like I’m finally at a good place in this sense.

Some things I have learned regarding friendships:

  • Never, ever put anyone on a pedestal.
  • If they aren’t drawing you closer to God, limit your relationship. If they are drawing you away from God, consider cutting ties.
  • Evaluate your expectations. For me, I have a tendency to go far above and beyond people’s expectations for me, which is fine, but then I get frusterated when people don’t “give back” to me. They do give back to me, just not as much as I give to them. I cannot hold my expectations of them to the same standard that I hold myself.
  • On the other hand, relationships are not one way.  If you are the only one giving, then chances are that they don’t truly care enough to invest back into you. That being said, there are times where one person may be in a tough season and may need you to give more than they can give back. This is okay as long as it’s not this way all the time. They should be there for you as well.
  • Be cautious of manipulative and emotionally abusive relationships. They sneak up on you.   
  • Guard your heart. Jesus comes first. Always. Every time. 
  • It’s okay to have more than one “best friend.” In fact, be cautious with the term “best friend”, it makes it a lot easier to put someone on a pedestal.
  • Whether you feel like it or not, you deserve to be treated right. Your friends should treat you right. Don’t let them walk all over you.
  • Friends are for a season. I’m not going to lie, I hate hearing this. But it’s true. This is one of the toughest lessons I’ve had to learn. I want nothing more than to have a lifelong best friend, but I may not ever have that. But I am thankful for each person that I mentioned in this post because I learned different lessons from each of them, and they were the right person for the season I was in. You have to trust that God knows what He is doing, because He does. 

Here are two other articles that I found helpful regarding friendships. I highly recommend reading them. 

More Than BFFs – When Friendship Goes Too Far  

7 Characteristics of a Good Friend