Saturday, May 05, 2012

BFF . . . For Real

Frisco Bible has an amazing couple leading the youth, Kris and Amy Keith.  Amy invited me to be a part of a get together for teen girls from my church called "Junk Food and Jesus".  It was an opportunity for junior high and high school girls to indulge in some yummy food while listening in on how God is working or has worked in "older" womens' lives. 

So here's the first thing . . . I'm now considered an "older" woman.  Sigh.  Weep.  Tears.  I never thought it would happen to me.  Alas.

And the second thing?  I am totally enjoying being around these godly young women!  What an encouragement for me as a mother of five children to see our Lord evident in their lives.  Parenting along with the Holy Spirit works!

The topic, shared by Heather, was about friendships - the Best Friend Forever kind.  She talked about her struggles early on in life in making and keeping a BFF.  Her difficulty in friendship continued throughout high school, college, and early adulthood. Friendship after friendship ended much to her disappointment and sadness.  She went on to talk about how she came to understand the one True Friend, Jesus, never left her, disappointed her, or rejected her.  He is her BFF. 

Like Heather, I have suffered some disappointments in friendships.  Most of those disappointments were due to my own inflated expectations of others through no fault of their own.  Quality time with friends is one of my favorite things.  There is nothing better than being silly and talking deep and serious with a like-minded friend.  My end of the friendship seemed needier than the other half and would end in my overly-sensitive hurt feelings.

I've also made the mistake of jumping into a friendship with both feet and eyes closed.  So wrapped up in the excitement of a new "bestie" that I missed the warning signs of "Unhealthy Road Ahead".  I allowed my self-worth, joy, and near existence to be placed on the shoulders of someone who didn't want or need the extra weight of me.  Can you see where this is heading?  To follow the road analogy, I crashed head first into a barricade of disappointment and reality.

You see, God would not have me place my all-n-all in anyone or anything other than Him.  And that is exactly what I had done.  He used my choice of friend before Father as an opportunity to gently correct me.  The blinders were removed from my eyes and He allowed me to see my friend as human.  As fallible.  Undeserving of my devotion and worship.  It was not  an exercise in criticism toward her.  It was a command to place my worship at the feet of His throne, to offer only Him the praise of my lips, to seek to please only Him in word, thought, and deed.

My Sweet Lord has been patient and loving over my grieving of the end of the friendship.  He has proven o'er and o'er that He is my eternal Best Friend.  Hebrews 13:5b says " . . . for He has said, 'I will never leave you and I will never abandon you''.  Relationships are given and taken away for many reasons.  No matter how many earthly BFFs God has blessed me with, I can be certain of a relationship with Him.  Even if my best friend contact list is as dry as the Sahara, I am assured of His desire for an eternal kinship with me.  Why else would He give His Son as a sacrifice for my sins so that I may live in His palace where time does not end?

Thank you Lord, for your friendship.


P.S. - More to come on friendships, relational growth, and His gift of friends.  I  must be a slow learner for His lessons are never ending!

Be blessed,
Niki

Wednesday, May 02, 2012

No More "I" Word

Sitting through a long meeting, my mind begins to drift.  Unfortunately, this is not uncommon for me.  Sitting still and sitting quietly still is not a task I've mastered.  I'm 38 years old.  See . . . I'm drifting here, too. 

Anyway, as I half listen I look around at a room full of women.  There's talk of this and that and I can only focus on things hidden beneath the service.  What is Lady A covering beneath her nervous laughter?  What is Gal B hiding behind her chewed-upon bottom lip?  Can Friend C twiddle her thumbs even faster to control her hidden-issues?

You see, I am extra sensitive to others' attempt at pushing some sort of unwelcome hang-up behind a smile or laugh.  For I have been a master craftsman at hiding anything related to the "I-word".  You know the word. 

Insecurity.

Merriman Webster defines insecure as 1.not confident or sure, 2.deficient in assurance : beset by fear and anxiety.

I define insecurity as a fear of being known or seen for the real me.  An act of compensating for insecurity is what Pastor Chip Ingram calls "image management" (Living on the Edge, p12).  It is an attempt at sealing the perceived imperfections with either strong reactions (anger, power) or weak reactions (shy, wall-flower).  It can be based on fear or shame.  Even denial.

We all have some sort of insecurity.  It can be guilt baggage from a not-so-glorious past or fear of acceptance.  Or in my case, "Will they notice the size of the junk in my trunk before they notice the size of my heart?".

Listen.  Romans 12:3 tells us "For by grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but think of yourself with sober judgement, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you". 

Sober assessment or discernment requires us to take a sound, accurate judgment of who God created us to be and how He created us.  We have to come to understand that He created us with a specific purpose to be filled in a unique way.  Regardless of our human limitations related to our emotional junk, our Lord knows us.  And He still loves us in spite of that intimate knowledge.  We protect ourselves from allowing others to see the cracks and fissures but He sees them.  He has a plan for them!

King David wrote in Psalm 139:1-5:
O Lord, you have examined my heart and know everything about me.  You know when I sit down or stand up.  You know my every thought when far away.  You chart the path ahead of me and tell me where to stop and rest.  Every moment you know where I am.  You know what I am going to say even before I say it, Lord.  You both precede me and follow me.  You place your hand of blessing on my head.

Doesn't that warm your heart?  It puts a few things in perspective. He knows my every thought, word, and action before it occurs to me.  His presence is everywhere and never apart from me.  Never ever ever.  How can that not banish my preoccupations with being included or excluded from a particular group of friends?  How can it not quell an almost insatiable desire not to be singled out in a crowd?

He created us and placed His character in each of us.  We must have the same respect for ourselves as God has for us.  In that same Psalm, verses 17-18 say:

How precious are your thoughts about me, O God!  They are innumerable!  I can't even count them; they outnumber the grains of sand!  And when I wake up in the morning, you are still with me!

On the days that I allow my insecurities to rise up and take over, I read over a list of "I-statements" drawn from Romans 8 and Ephesians 1.  Listed below are a few of my favorite reminders.

  1. I belong to Jesus Christ.
  2. I am free from sin by the power of the life-giving Spirit through Christ Jesus.
  3. I have right standing with Jesus.
  4. I am victorious through Him.
  5. I am inseparable from Him.
  6. I am holy and without fault in His eyes.
  7. I was chosen by God.
  8. I have life and peace through the Holy Spirit.
  9. I am loved by Him.
  10. I have a new body and a new name waiting for me.
Usually, these I-statements snap me back into reality.  Remembering, regardless of any real or perceived imperfections, I am a child of the King.  Amen.