Cultivating a life of openness and Christian friendship
If you have ever heard the term ‘Loner‘, I would be the person apt for it. All through life I have been a Loner. I have never found/made lasting friendships. I moved from one set of friends to another through different seasons of my childhood. I never cared to maintain them – some because I did not want to carry forward bad/hurtful memories, some because it was not feasible, some because we had moved too far apart as people, some due to my christian beliefs. So for whatever the reason be, I never found myself having those true life long friendships that people talk about.The longest of my friendships have been say 4 years and as distance grew so did the distance between the friendships till recently.
The last 9 years of my life has been different and thanks be to good theology and sound doctrine that I can say confidently that I am no longer a Loner, I have friends. By friends I do not mean those who are my ‘yes men’. These are friends who correct me when I go wrong, who encourage me when I am down, appreciate me when I deserve it and are beside me when I need them. Friends that I would like to call ‘friends for life’, friends that I would love to call ‘sisters in Christ’ , friends that I would like to say – are a gift that God has given me!
It all sounds good doesn’t it? But the journey towards building such friendships has not been simple. It has taken time, effort, sacrifice, love, tears, togetherness, God’s doing! It is a journey and I would like to write about this one for all the ‘loners’ out there just like me – just like I had been!
In the year 2006, I came to Mysore for the training at Infosys. Little did I know that God has plans for me in this place. I came in the mindset of finishing my training and going to Chennai to work and be with my family. God had different plans. I came here and got plugged into a Christian fellowship called ROCK (Representatives Of Christ Kingdom). I got to meet some amazing godly people – Aubrey, Sam and Edison. They are some of my first and lasting friends!
As I came to ROCK, I started learning the Bible more and understanding God, His work, The plan of salvation etc. The more I knew this, the more I came to know about God and the more I learnt the more I fell in love with God’s word. I decided to stay back in Mysore to be a part of this amazing fellowship. The Bible became an integral part my life and the word of God started to take precedence in my life. The Bible became the source of my decisions, my thought process my actions etc.,
Along this journey I met two of the most wonderful ladies – Lisa and Theesko. They came by and got posted in Mysore. By then we were moving from being a fellowship to a Church, Edison and I were married. This post is mainly on how Lisa, Theesko and I became friends and how God helped strengthen this bond.
To be honest, none of the three of us know how this is even possible. We are three people from three different places with personalities so varied that it is impossible for us to even have a conversation without stepping on each other’s toes. The barrier in our friendship has been language, culture, personalities and what not…But there has been one thing that was and still is common among us – Jesus Christ. His work was real to us and we wanted to serve Him faithfully no matter what! This was our common denominator and I thank God for these lovely ladies in my life.
Our friendship started off like any normal one. On a surface level. Since we were all about serving God, our lives were revolving around prayers, Bible studies etc. So the friendship we share started off by encouraging each other when we were down, or just praying for one another etc..This did not change much until the word of God convicted us to be honest and share our struggles with one another. The Bible says confess your sins to one another. Man O Man! This is tough. The Biblical calling for friendship is high.
As the we allowed the word of God to work in our lives, we were convicted of not being open with the body of Christ and not allowing one to help the other. As tough as this was, we started sharing our struggles as a Christian, our sins and we started praying for one another and seeking God’s word to encourage one another. Things changed! The friendship that was once superficial became real and deep. We knew the person for who they were and we loved the person for what Christ has done on the cross for them.
Along the way came the stepping on the toes part. We resolved not to brush it away but to speak about it and resolve the issue because the Bible says my worship will not be accepted when I have a grudge with my fellow brother/sister in the Lord. This took courage, patience and tears. We talked about stuff. We clarified stuff instead of assuming. What did you mean by this? I felt bad when such and such a thing happened. It took time and years of effort but now it comes to us naturally. It comes with patient and active working of the word of God. We forced ourselves to put off the old stuff and put on new stuff as the Bible says in Colossians.
For most friendships, the problem solving is tough. So was our case. I am this introverted- encourager among friends, Lisa is the introverted – spreading cheer kinda person, Theesko is the introverted – listener, observer and a friend whom one can always lean on to. When things get difficult, I would not talk about it, if I do I would blast. Theesko would never talk about her feeling and always deny and beat around the bush if we were to talk, and Lisa was in between us the calmer one…But over the years of the Bible refining our thinking we have come to know that we need to be honest with each other about our feelings, talk and clarify stuff and also be able to speak in a kind and gentle way! This takes time, effort and lot of allowing the word of God to transform our minds.
As in many friendships, we have been through envy and jealousy when it came to the gifting of each person. Lisa is this bubbly person who always spreads cheer. She plays the guitar and sings beautifully. Theesko has this amazing calm about herself. She is this person who would always lend a listening ear and would cry with you for anything and encourage you. I am the kinds who encourages and can write (to an extent). So at different points in our lives,we have wanted to be like the other and wished we had the gifting of the other. But God taught us that we are a body and each part of the body has a different function and we cannot do without the other and need each other. One cannot do without the other. Through various articles and blogs, we have learnt to appreciate each other’s talents and gifting and not be envious about it or jealous for the fact that one is in touch with the other more etc., We have learnt to confess with one another when we do fall in this area and we have learnt to run to the cross for the forgiveness of Christ because our primary sin is towards God and none other!
The next thing about this friendship is the freedom that we have given each other to speak into each other’s lives. We have learnt that in this world God has given godly friends so that they can correct us, encourage us and edify us when we need and it is my responsibility to help them by giving them freedom to do so. These friends are not yes men! They tell me when I go wrong, they are there to help when I need and they are there to encourage when I need it and vice versa. This is because we are a body and we need to be there for one another. It is tough but the Bible calls for it. We have learnt to accept the Bible and accept correction when we need. God has been gracious and has helped us!
Yes, today we stand and Godly friends and this is not easy. I thank God for His word and how He transformed us and how He helped a surface level friendship to where it is now. God is the only bond that keeps us strong. We are ever grateful for Him and His work in our lives.
Godly friendships are hard to find and cultivate. But when we do, we reap its benefits. If God can turn an introverted Loner like me to a friend who shares her life with others He can do so with you, provided you allow the word of God to change and transform your life.
One day I long to see more of these friendships in my life and in the lives of others!
May God help each one of us to see the need for these friendships and cultivate them to bring glory to His name! Amen.