Real Friends Need Only Apply – Part I

“I won’t ever stop being the real me to be an illusion of a better but fake Christian version of myself. So if I disappoint you, I’m sorry. Please look to Jesus and only Jesus for perfection. You certainly won’t find it in me, and I promise you won’t find it in others either. But here’s what we can do while we fix our eyes on Jesus… we can encourage one another. We can build each other up and chose our words wisely to share the truth in love…” (Candace Cameron Bure from Who REALLY Runs my FB Page?)

I read the above quote and it reminded me of two specific areas of friendship that when experienced, bring so much blessing into life.

The first area involves acceptance.  Throughout my life, I’ve had many friendships with many women.  Ages, hobbies, ethnicities, backgrounds, and socioeconomic status have all varied. One thing we have in common?  We’re all different.

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My husband and I choose to raise our family a certain way.  We have our own beliefs about politics, healthy lifestyles, hobbies, sports and recreation, and parenting styles. Some of my friends became friends because we met on common ground and hold similar values. Others don’t share our beliefs in any or all of these areas.  And, yet, that’s okay.

I’ve learned so much because of the differences that we share.  Just because someone prefers to use modern medicine and we prefer to first try a natural approach doesn’t make any of us bad parents – it just makes us different.  The health of each of our children is top priority to us both.  Whether sports-focused or musically-inclined doesn’t matter much either – we still find common ground in other areas and bring different strengths and weaknesses to the relationship.  Whether single, married, no children, many children – all offer different perspectives than my own from which I can learn and grow and develop more into the person God called me to be.  And, I have the people in my different relationships to thank for that.

The second area involves advice.  I have a select group of friends that I turn to for Godly advice.  They are my friends who share the same core values I do regarding my relationship with Jesus Christ.  When I’m struggling with an issue or situation, I know I can ask them for some Godly counsel and they will direct me to God’s Word, usually helping me find a verse or chapter or book in the Bible to help me see the core issue. They always point me back to the One who ultimately will help me change, give me peace, solve my problem, or calm the storm brewing in my life.

God purposefully created relationships (friendships, marriage, parent-child) so that we have allies in life, people to walk beside us and help point us toward the One who wants to handle all the difficulties we face. Criticizing or condemning one’s preferences doesn’t belong in a friendship or marriage relationship.  God made us all different for a reason.  He and only He is the One who will help any of us change the areas in our life that need to be fixed. It’s not my job to fix anybody but me.  It is my job, though, to guide each person God brings into my life back to Him so He can whisper Truth to them, in His time.  It’s also my job to encourage and support my friend while God works in his or her life.

© Cheri Swalwell 2014

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