I have seen and heard a lot of vitriol recently in my social media feed regarding our government, the coronavirus response, and quarantine life in general. Although some of the vitriol has come from non-Christians, I have seen a disturbing number of professing believers also being just as vicious in their messages, and, as a follower of Christ, that makes me so upset and sad. Just to clarify, I have also seen some believers being very gracious and kind in their responses to those who disagree with them, especially my former pastor who responds with the grace and dignity that I can only hope that more people, no matter their religious affiliation, would emulate. However, here are some things that I have heard and/or witnessed myself with some of those who profess belief in Christ that have grieved me, and that believers (myself included) should make sure we never do or stop doing, if we struggle with these issues.
Not showing grace to those who disagree with them.—Years ago, before I was a true believer in Christ, I have to admit I was guilty of this. I condemned and cursed those who would even criticize my favorite musical group. Thankfully, I have grown from that, and I aim to show grace to those who disagree with my views on life. Unfortunately, I was reading one of my friend’s social media feeds (The friend is a strong believer), and their friends (also believers) seemed to be attacking one another and not showing very much grace to one another. I would be horrified to hear what non-Christians who witnessed this would think of us believers now in light of this! I would advise believers like myself to refrain from engaging in arguments or discussions if you are unable to keep from condemning or otherwise bad mouthing your opponent. This silence will keep your witness from being marred or even destroyed and from giving the enemies of the Lord occasion to blaspheme (2 Samuel 12:14).
Loving their neighbor, but hating their enemies.—Going along with the first point, we should strive to love those around us, even our enemies. I know it’s tough, and I also struggle with this. However, when we see even our enemies, as fellow image-bearers of God with real dreams and goals, we can make a new friend out of them! When I decided to humble myself before God and follow what Jesus said in Matt 5:44, which says,” Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you,” winning them over is eventually what happened in numerous situations. For instance, I had trouble getting along with one of my now-former managers. In fact, at some point, I would actually have been honest in saying I hated them! However, after God revealed to me the unnecessary bitterness and anger in my heart towards them, I eventually saw them with eyes of love and compassion. Now, I hold them close to my heart as one of my good friends.
Being prideful or self-righteous in any situation, especially when being confronted with sin in their lives.—I can usually tell if a person is a mature Christian by the way they respond to criticism and when they are confronted with their sins. For instance, when confronted with criticism over an article he linked about obeying government, my pastor did not respond with vitriol or pride. Instead, he humbly and gracefully explained his position, which caused some of the people who criticized him to examine the issue further and not get upset. However, I also had a friend who I had to confront because they had violated my boundaries more than once, and instead of humbly apologizing or respecting me, they got upset and told me I was “crazy.” Both my pastor and my friend would claim to be professing Christians, but the way each of them responded reflects how true their belief in Christ really is. Unlike what society around us may say, pride is not an attractive quality in anyone. Humility is, because it shows that you can be real with someone without playing the victim or feeling attacked.
Being one person in public, and another behind closed doors.—Believing one thing and doing another is called being a hypocrite, and being two-faced will grossly undermine any credible witness you may have. In order to combat this, strive to be transparent with others about how you are living your life. This may include sharing your struggles with at least one or two close friends, and inviting their accountability and encouragement to do better. Also, do not be afraid to ask for help when you need it. In Galatians 6:2 (KJV), it says, “Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ.” I believe when this verse says to bear one another’s burdens, it also includes letting other people bear yours! Yes, I understand that trusting others is difficult sometimes, but do you trust God to do what is best for you through them? God will never let you go, and He has a good plan for you always, for a hope and a future (Jeremiah 29:11, Romans 8:28).
When we as a Body of believers resolve never to do these four things, we can have a major impact for the Kingdom of God! We can be the authentic, cross-bearing, Jesus loving believers we were created by God to be!
On April 9, 1999, I
had penned these words, ““I wish I could be more […] effervescent (lively). I
feel dead without being physically killed. I hope I don’t die emotionally, but
I am dying. If I could only find that zest, that greatness life is supposed to
hold. But where is it, at least in me?”
Though I had been already battling depression for over five years at
that point, that month was one of the lowest for me. I had few, if any, friends, and I felt those
closest to me could not relate with the emotional anguish and sickness that I
was going through. School was very stressful
for me, as I endured a difficult class with an even more difficult teacher, who
was verbally abusive to me and others.
Thankfully, God, in His mercy and grace, met me where I was at, a little
over a year later, and did not allow me to give up on myself or on life.
I continued struggling through depression through my college
years, and even still struggle occasionally now. However, I can attest that
things have been much better now than they were that April day, twenty years
ago! In the deep darkness of my battle,
I have learned so much that has enabled me to help encourage others who may
feel that they are in the deep pit of despair and hopelessness and who are
close to the end of their ropes. Here
are some of the lessons that I learned along this journey from the darkness to
give up! There is always hope when you are alive. Always! —I have wanted
to give up more times than I could count, but God, in His sovereignty and love,
never let me get that far. I remember
having symptoms of depression since I was ten years old. When you are battling something that seems
chronic or suffering for a long time, it is very tempting to give up on life
and on God. However, perseverance is always worth it in the end. For instance, when I was the most depressed,
I thought no one would understand or even care about what I was going through.
I hid the pain and the fears of having been bullied and rejected by some peers
when I was growing up, and thought if I just tried to forget about it, the pain
would eventually go away. However, when it manifested in increasing discouragement
and an insatiable hunger for the desire to be accepted and love, and deep
despair when my desires were not met, I thought more and more about ending my
life. Thankfully, God eventually took a
hold of my life, and I began to see the purpose of my life. I also began to be
increasingly motivated to spread God’s love to others. Never would have thought then, that I would
be surrounded by so many loving and supportive family and friends that I have
today. I am truly blessed. Had I taken
my own life then, I would have never saw the light God had prepared for me
compassionate and caring to those who are in pain, either and both physical and emotional. —I wish the people in my
life now were there when I was struggling to see my value in this world and if
there was any hope left in my life. I
find that when I am able and willing to even speak a word of encouragement to
those who are stressed out at work, that their countenance begins to spark and
brings them hope. When you see someone visibly upset and in pain, never stare
judgmentally at them, but try to comfort them and offer them words of
encouragement. Nothing irritates me more
than those judgmental, cold stares and comments from people when I am upset! I’m
sure that upsets others in pain as well. When you take the time to care for and
encourage those in pain, you bring them the hope and love that they have needed
all along. Yes, sometimes caring for people is hard work, but you can possibly
save a life when you take the time and effort for them. It is also so worth it!
that there was a purpose to my pain. — I have to admit—I have an
intense phobia of suffering. Not only do I hate when I suffer, but I also
detest when my loved ones and friends have to suffer as well. However, when I am able to see the big
picture of why God allowed me to go through the struggles and battles of
depression and anxiety, I see that He was shaping my purpose to be able to help
others who needed hope as well. Had I
not struggled with depression, I would not be able to relate to, on more than a
superficial level, with the intense struggles that the people around me have
had to go through. This truth is also emphasized in 2 Corinthians 1:3-5 (KJV),
where it says, “Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able
to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves
are comforted of God.” So, when we go through trials, God will comfort us, both
so we can endure the trial successfully, and for us to be able to then comfort
So, as I continue to apply and review the
lessons that I learned in the dark and afterwards, I taste and see that the
Lord is good. Because God did not allow
me to give up, I am able to see the bountiful blessings that He has given me,
the opportunities He has given me to care for others who are in need of hope,
and I learned that I have a calling in life that required me to go through some
pain in order to be able to fulfill it.
Do you feel aimless or in despair?
There is purpose to your life, and God can use you to help others in
their pain if you don’t give up. There
is always hope when you are alive— and my journey to the Light is a testament
to that fact!
As some of you may know, I am in the process of writing a
memoir about things that I have had to overcome to be who I am now. One of the toughest parts to write so far has
been a period in my life where I couldn’t see the light at the end of the
tunnel, and when I felt like I had little hope or future in my life. Those were
my middle school years—when I was about 12-14 years old. Sometimes, I wish I knew all that I know now,
back then, so that I wouldn’t have been so miserable and hopeless. However, if I didn’t go through what I did
back then, I would have never become the person I am today either. If I could go back and mentor my middle
school self, this is what I would advise her:
God will always bring good out of suffering.–If I knew that all the pain, heartache, and hopelessness that I felt when I was in middle (J.R. high school) school was going to amount to something even half-good, I would have not felt as miserable as I did. The fact is because of the bullying and the pain I experienced in middle school, I am better equipped to help others who are struggling similarly. Because God and others helped me overcome the pain I endured before, my story can give others hope that, they, too can reach the light at the end of the tunnel, so to speak. In fact, if you are struggling right now, or have struggled, and you don’t know if these challenges are going to add up to anything good, know that your story can one day give others who are struggling, hope, if you don’t give up now. Many times during that dark period in my life I wanted to commit suicide, but God, in His sovereign wisdom did not allow me. Thank God He didn’t, or else I wouldn’t be here sharing this!
If people don’t accept you for you, don’t try to please them or let them rent space in your life.—In middle school, I struggled to gain the acceptance and the close friendship of my peers. All in all, though I may have appeared happy, I was really dying inside. I tried to learn from them sometimes in an attempt to mimic their behaviors, so I would be more “acceptable,” but it never seemed like it was enough. The same people I wanted to impress probably saw through me, and, in the end, I was still in the same spot I was in the first place—lonely and unacceptable to my peers. Now, I have learned that if people want me to change things that are part of how God made me, like how I look on the outside (like my ethnicity), or don’t want to accept that I am an INFJ on the spectrum, that I should not put stock in trying to please them. In fact, I have had to let go of several people in the past ten years that haven’t really accepted me for who God made me to be. It really is better to be hated for who you are, then “loved” for who you are not, as people will find out the Real You anyway. Be authentic to yourself and others.
Grades aren’t everything.—I was so fixated on grades, that when I did poorly, I was deathly afraid that I would make my dad livid and more so, that I would flunk out of school. Even though I tried my best to do well in school, and had decent grades, they had absolutely ZERO impact on helping me find the job I have now! Some teachers may say to a student who is struggling that if they don’t improve, they will end up working at “McDonalds.” What these teachers don’t understand is that one could make decent grades and graduate from a half-way decent college, and STILL work at McDonalds! Also, someone could graduate with a “C” average in school, but end up making millions of dollars in acting or even starting their own business if they know what they are doing. I would still advise my middle school self to work diligently in school, but not get too anxious if I failed one test!
Having convictions and drive will make you more successful in life than if you are just “getting by.”—Although I worked hard in school, I only did so to make my parents happy and for fear of failure. However, I have discovered in the past few years that my attitude back then is similar to how many people view their jobs, as just a way to “get by”. Yes, we should make sure we are making enough money in our jobs to make ends meet, but it shouldn’t be about just that. Although I don’t make even close to a million dollars a year at my job, I still strive to go above and beyond and do the best I can every single day. Why? Because I want to glorify God and show people that working diligently can be a more satisfying and enriching learning experience if you approach your job as a calling, and not only to make money. Because I am convinced God has placed me in my job to impact a certain group of people for a reason, I am more motivated to do my best, even when I may not get a raise for years. If I approached my school as a calling, rather than just trying to gain the acceptance of love of people who were already set in their opinion of me, I think I would have been a lot happier.
I am convinced that if I had learned these lessons in middle
school, I would not have struggled as much back then. However, I am glad that I
did eventually learn these lessons, though, sometimes, like other things I have
learned, sometimes I need to go back and review them. I am glad for these lessons, because without
them, I would have never grown into the person I am today. And I am glad for the God that helped me
I have lived in some fear for most of my life. Even back to my elementary school days, I was chided by teachers and peers alike for “worrying too much.” I had severe OCD in my early teen years. Later, some of my anxiety sometimes turned into paranoia. Moreover, in my senior year of high school I was dubbed “most paranoid” by my graduating class.
But God has rescued me out of many of my fears. Yes, He is the same God that has said, “Do not fear” numerous times in the Bible.
I recovered from my severe OCD with medication and by slowly trying to reduce the time I spent on my nonsensical rituals. Now, many years later, I barely even remember what the rituals were! God used people and situations in my life to help me to combat the devil’s lies that not doing the rituals would bring me “bad luck”. (Yes, I actually believed that “bad luck” deal! ) God helped me realize that not doing the nonsensical rituals actually freed me to joy and to do what He wanted me to do with my life in the first place.
I also used to be so afraid what people would think of me if they found out that I was on the autistic spectrum and had other struggles. I tried to hide my struggles from the outside world even before I realized I was on the spectrum. I was taught by my parents, my culture, and the community around me to not tell anyone about my “dirty laundry.” I know they all meant well—as they did not want to further expose me to becoming prey to unscrupulous people who may have wanted to take advantage of my openness. However, I also felt alone and powerless to fight the battles that still raged on in my heart long after the visible symptoms of the struggles had passed. When the Spirit impressed upon my heart to write about my struggles, I expected people to judge and even reject me, but, at that point, I did not care. I knew God wanted to use me to bring hope to others struggling similarly. When I started writing about my struggles, something amazing happened! Not only did God use me in His amazing way, but I also found that most people found my newfound vulnerability refreshing. It opened up the way for them to share their own struggles, and find acceptance and camaraderie with those struggling similarly, including myself.
Sometimes, I would also be afraid of certain people themselves, as when an abuse survivor sees his or her abuser in close proximity to them after going “no contact” for a long time. This probably stems from an incident where a teacher growled at me and acted threateningly to me when I ran from him in fear. I still fear people when they yell at me because of this, but thankfully my fear abates within hours, if not only a couple days, of the yelling incident. God has infused the power of forgiveness and redemption to quell my fears of people yelling at or hurting me. He has taught me (and continues to teach me) the power of releasing bitterness and replacing it with mercy, compassion and grace.
When I was in school, I used to worry about what would happen the consecutive days, whether it was the fear that I would not pass a test or quiz, or if I was going to get in trouble for something that I may have said or done. Sometimes, I would lay awake for some time worrying about these and other such things. What I learned was that my worries and fears either never came to pass at all, or it wasn’t as bad as I had imagined. I still struggle with this sometimes, but one major way God has helped me with my fears is redirecting my focus from my circumstances and the “what-ifs” that I fear (like what if I don’t pass that test….or what if I get laid off or fired from my job? ) to His sovereignty and goodness. Now, I am learning how to say, “Even if I don’t pass the test, God will give me a second chance, for example….or even if I got laid off, God will provide me another job. Even if I get COVID-19, God will use my illness to glorify Himself and bring about good in my life) This has quelled my fears about COVID-19 significantly, and has helped me to trust God’s sovereignty and goodness in my life, no matter what will happen.
Almost everyone I know has at least one fear, even if they don’t readily acknowledge that fact. It’s normal, but when fear starts to paralyze your joy and freedom in life, then it needs to leave. With God’s help, you can conquer your fears and experience the joy and freedom He has for you.
Saying that these are uncertain and tumultuous times would be an understatement to so many in this world right now. I just moved almost a week ago and face some uncertainty because of that event. However, many of you are facing even greater uncertainty and even fears because your jobs may have been eliminated or changed, your children are no longer able to attend school, except online, and most of you can no longer attend church services, mosques, temples, or any other place of worship because of this pandemic. Even with all this trouble and uncertainty in the world today, there are still ways we can successfully cope with these new realities and stay healthy, both physically and emotionally. Here are some things I learned about how we can cope with this pandemic that is affecting our livelihoods:
Selfishness can cost lives, so we should strive to be considerate of others.—When people hoard the essential supplies to combat or prevent the Coronavirus, or when they are rude and noncompliant with those that provide services and supplies that they need, they are being selfish. This selfishness can cost lives because it can force stores and other businesses to close and those without means of transportation and means to online services can potentially starve or be in otherwise grave danger because they will have to go without the supplies they need to survive day everyday. If people don’t practice social distancing, not caring about whether they will potentially infect someone, they could potentially make someone who has a compromised immune system or is fragile physically, to get seriously ill and even die! This can happen because the person who is acting nonchalantly can be a carrier of the virus, even if he or she doesn’t yet present any symptoms. However, when we practice social distancing, so that the virus does not spread, wash our hands frequently in order not to spread potentially harmful germs, and when we are patient and considerate to those who serve us and to those in need, I know God will give each one of us the grace we need to be able to endure this trial for as long as He allows.
God will always provide for us, so we do not have to be afraid of not having enough.—Many people are in fear of at least some aspect of their livelihood being affected by this virus—whether it has to do with their job or financial security, having adequate food and water, and even that they may contract the virus themselves. I confess that I had some fears in all these categories at some point during these past few days, but then God brought this verse to mind:
“Casting all your cares upon him, for he careth for you.”-1 Peter 5:7 (KJV)
That is when I was reminded by God that He cared for me. And He still cares for every single person reading this today, even when we are going through trials. Not only that, but we don’t have to fear because God always provides for us what we need in some way because of his loving care for us. In fact, Philippians 4:19 (KJV) says:
“But my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.”
My family and I have personally experienced the truth of this verse, even just over this past week! For example, my mom needed chicken to cook a dish, and she looked for it in several stores, only to discover they were already out. However, God provided us with the chicken through my brother, who was able to find it at a store closer to his house, and bought it for my mom. Another incident where God graciously provided happened a few days ago, when I found out I would still have a job, after having worried about what I would do if I didn’t have one, since I tend to delve into depression and get antsy when I have to stay home and not have work to do. Moreover, I would have a very difficult time staying at home for even several days on end, and still be relatively sane and stable mentally. Thankfully, I went in for the job offer at my new workplace, and they allowed me to start the next day! Not only that, God provided for me beyond what I had asked or even expected when I discovered I got a good raise compared to the last place I worked! I am so blessed! God also did the same for Job, after Job’s time of intense suffering, by fully restoring or replacing all that Job had before. I am convinced that if we all continue to fully trust and lean on God, He will do similarly for you, in His timing, according to what is right for you. Even when you don’t think God is coming through for you right now, do not give up on Him! God will always come through just when you need Him. His timing is always perfect.
3.) I learned we should help others in need during this tumultuous time, according to what we are able to do.—If you are healthy, do not have the virus, and have the means to do so, help others who are battling the emotional and/or financial effects of the virus. For instance, if a friend—online or real life, wants to talk or vent to you, listen to them with thought and consideration. Do not seem too busy or judgmental in your demeanor. Offer words of encouragement to them as they face these trials. Share with them how you are getting through it and tell them about the hope that comes from Christ. If they need financial help, and you are able to do so, give them the resources that they need as a gift, not expecting repayment, as burdening them with a loan can create additional financial and emotional burdens that they don’t need right now. Help your loved ones in any way you can, and value their presence in your life even more now, as they may have no one else they interact with face-to-face.
If we do our best to put others before ourselves, trust that God will always provide what we need, and help others struggling with the effects of this pandemic, we will defeat Coronavirus and God will make us stronger and better than before!
This past decade has been a flurry of changes and growth. I am not the same person I was ten years ago. God has taught me so much about how to deal with difficult situations, and He is continuing to grow me into the person I was made to be. Sometimes, I feel that I have been through more in these past ten years, than in the previous twenty or so years of my life. However, all these experiences have made me into the person I am today. I am currently working on writing a memoir called “Becoming a Butterfly,” which really symbolizes my life’s journey in this past decade.
What happened this decade? Ten years ago, I was unemployed and the church I was attending at the time was still in process of finding a new pastor. I was far happier than I was before I became a Christian, but far more depressed than I am now. My brother was still living with my parents and me, and he was trying to find a full time job. I could count on my hands the friends that I knew back then that I am still in contact with now.
In the past three years, I have become a full time sales associate. I have learned how to cut fabric, do online orders for customers (OGP), take calls in the fitting room, and be a registered back-up cashier at my store. As of right now, I am still the only associate in my department, not counting my immediate supervisor, that is a register trained cashier at my store, thanks to my now-former supervisor, Elizabeth* (*=not her real name).
I am a blogger. I have made about 300 posts on my blog since December 2015 when I started this blog.
My brother moved away to another state, where he is currently employed full time in a much more satisfying job than he had ten years ago. He also adopted a cat.
At about the same time when my brother moved, I moved to a different church. This turned out to be one of the best decisions that I have ever made, not that I didn’t like the people at my old church. I loved (and still love) them! However, at my current church, I am able to grow as a Christian and as a person in ways I thought I never would or could. I have two godly pastors, who not only actively serve people in our church, but also the community at large. In my church, I have met some of the godliest and most compassionate people in my life that are also very committed to following Christ. They aren’t perfect, but they always strive to follow Him as wholeheartedly as they can.
What were the best parts?
The best parts of this decade were gaining full time employment , meeting many amazing people at work, some of whom changed my life for the better, and finding a good church home where I have felt loved and valued. God has also used people there to help me grow in my faith in Him.
What were the worst parts of this decade?
Since he moved away, I haven’t been able to see my brother face to face as much. We Skype regularly with him, but it is not the same as having him here in person. There have been so many changes in my life since ten years ago; it has produced some anxiety in me. Thankfully, most of the changes in my life have been good, however.
What did I learn and how did I grow?
As I said before, I learned how to be a backup cashier. I never thought I would be able to run a register (till), much less be a backup cashier that is called up to ring semi-regularly! I learned how to deal with different types of people, which I didn’t do so well growing up. For instance, I learned (and still am learning) how to be less self-centered and more compassionate towards others and their needs. In the past, I thought no one would truly love me, if they really knew who I was. In this past decade, I have learned over and over again, that if I just strive to be my best, authentic self, most people will appreciate me and love me for who I am. And the people who don’t? They can get out of my life, or at least stay far, far away from me!
How has your decade been?
My decade truly has been an adventure! I am indebted to my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, for construing all the blessings that I currently have in my life! I pray that I will continue to grow in my faith and impact the world for the better.
What are your plans and dreams for the future? I hope to continue serving God, no matter where my life takes me. Soon, I am going to move out of state—something I have never done before in my life! I am going to have to leave almost everyone I have ever known behind, but God will be with me. At work, I want to learn how to mix paint and make keys for customers. If God wills, I would like to share my life with a guy who values similar things that I do, and who serves others, works diligently, is responsible, cares for me, and above all, follows Christ, wholeheartedly, as his Lord and Savior. I would also like to become a published author and complete a memoir that will inspire people never to give up on themselves or others. I count it a privilege and a blessing to have known so many great people in my life thus far, and hope to know many more
I am willing to be friends with almost anyone, but every
person that I consider to be my close friend embodies these characteristics.
No, they are not perfect, and may fail at times, but they have consistently
embodied these traits. Not only do I prefer these following character traits in
close friends, but I think, everyone, me included, of course, should strive to
embody these traits every single day, so we can make a true difference in this world:
The most important trait that my close friends all have is
authenticity. This means they always present themselves as honest, trustworthy,
and genuine. They do not act one way towards
others, and another way towards you. They don’t do things with ulterior
motives. All my close friends do not do things for people just to get something
from them, but because my friends really want to help and bring joy to their
lives. Also, another part of how they
are authentic is their honesty. For
instance, when one of my close friends gives me her wisdom, she always tells me
the truth, even if it hurts. Some people have been afraid to tell me truth
because they are scared that I will get upset at them and they will be looked
upon as harsh or mean. Nothing could be further from the truth! I appreciate this about my friend because her
honesty shows that she values me and having integrity—a rare, but needed
trait in our society today! By telling me the truth, she is inadvertently telling
me that I am worth what is true. Sure,
some of the things she has said may “sting” a little bit, but I appreciate that
because it shows that she values honesty.
Another trait that my closest friends all have is a
servant’s heart. All of my close friends
have lived in one capacity or another to serve the Lord and to serve
others. Some are serving the Lord as
missionaries. Others are serving their families when everyone else has
abandoned them. Still others are serving
their community through their resources, gifts, and talents. I strive to do the
same. When we have a servant’s heart, we emulate Christ, who went so far as to
die on a cross for us, and to wash every one of His disciples’ feet, even those
of the one who would eventually betray Him!
They are constantly thinking of others above themselves, working to make
the world a better place for everyone.
Also, another trait that my closest friends all have is the
willingness to be vulnerable. I define
vulnerability as being willing to share openly not only one’s triumphs and
victories with a trusted person, but also one’s trials and struggles. When I
see someone that is unwilling to admit to me or to the world that they are not
always “perfect,” I feel like they are lying to me in a way, because I know no
one, except God, is really perfect. Mark
Hall, of the contemporary Christian band, Casting Crowns, once said, “[I]t
doesn’t bother the world that we sin. It bothers the world that we act like we
don’t.” (CBN.com) One of my friends, Veronica,* is so passionate about being
vulnerable, it saddens her when others are not willing to open up to her. In years past, I admit I have struggled with
being vulnerable because I did not want people to judge or ridicule me. However, I have realized over the past five to
ten years or so, that being willing to be open about one’s struggles opens up other people to not be afraid to share
their struggles. It shows unity in our human-ness, and creates a deep bond
between people who are like-minded in their willingness to open up to each
other. It also enables others to help us
through our struggles, and us to help in theirs, so we will not feel alone in
our pain and struggles.
Another ultra-important trait my close friends have is
thoughtfulness and care towards others.
Along with having a servant’s heart, they are truly intuitive to the
needs of others. One of my close
friends, Erica,* knowing that I have struggled off and on with the loneliness
that comes with long term singleness, gave me a book that she thought would
help me (as it has helped her as well) with my lonely and unfulfilled feelings
that I sometimes struggle with, for my birthday. I will always treasure the thoughtfulness of
that gift and her friendship, even though we are not able to see each other
very often right now. A few days ago, when I was distraught and anxious about
several events that were going on in my life, my friend *Bonnie was willing to
take time out of her busy life to answer my texts and encourage me, as she
sensed that I was hurting and sad. I aim
to do the same for her, when she has issues, and also for anyone else who wants
moral support in a time of need. All my
close friends are willing to take the time to attend to others’ needs and to give
them the encouragement they need, especially in a tough time.
Last, but certainly not least, all my closest friends have
spiritual and emotional depth in them. This is what I aim to have in my life
more and more, though it is often a struggle for me, as it is even for these
friends. This does not mean they shut themselves off from the world around
them. However, this does mean that they are able to relate on a deeper level
with people. For instance, when I want to discuss why there is injustice in
this world, they can give me spiritual insight in wisdom into why God allows
this and how we can remedy it. In contrast, some people either don’t care about
these things or aren’t able to understand these things. For believers in Christ
to have spiritual depth to them is an essential ingredient in being able to
relate to others in their church and to get others, even those who don’t go to
church, to think about their purpose and goals in life and how they can relate
better to the world around them.
I’m so thankful to have these great, close friends—you
know who you are—who embody these characteristics. I pray that we all would strive to embody
authenticity, a servant’s heart, vulnerability, thoughtfulness, and depth to our
lives so we can bring love and joy to others, and lead them to freedom from
their pain and fears.