Perfect Mess

"But by the grace of God I am What I am, and His Grace to me was not in vain"
I Corinthians 15:10


“If we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection…” (Romans 6:5)


One of the greatest joys in coming to Christ has been the freedom to experience relationships as someone who can be “naked and unashamed.”  This has become especially true in my relationships with other women, which I use to fear and, in my BC (before Christ) days, became a source of great insecurity.

Back then, my relationships with women tended to be based around mutual interests, a slight need for comparison and competition, as well as a desire for someone to engage in meaningful self-reflection with.  The thought of disagreeing with one of my BC friends based on moral issues never occurred to me.  This was because, in my mind at least, there existed a silent agreement that the friend existed in my world to help me justify what I felt was right or wrong in my own eyes, and that failure to do so risked disqualifying that person from friendship with me.  And, as long as the “friend” did this for me, I would gladly listen to countless scenarios of how she had or had not been treated in a said way and I would find the areas where she needed  validation, or a snarky remark or two aimed at the one who had failed to properly acknowledge her as she had expected, as well as meet up with her at various times so we could escape the circumstances of our lives together for at least a little while.  Our friendship was based around shared secrets and experiences, and even shared biases more than it was around true, meaningful relationship, perhaps it was because I didn’t know how to experience anything else.

As a new Christian, I remember wondering (and being terrified of) how friendships with women would work within the Body of Christ.  I mean, what is there to talk about if we are not sinning, much more, what was there to do? I laugh now, but these were REAL thoughts that I experienced, and I often wondered if I would be able to make REAL friends within the church.

It was because of this fear that I spent my first few months as a new believer avoiding women, and social situations.

My first bible study is where I at last began to SEE how all of this would work.  I came in to the study doing my best to pretend like I fit in, as best as I could.  I was so out-of-place, and just BEING there, a dirty girl amidst ALL those clean ladies, made me feel so vulnerable.  As I watched the women interact, I noticed something I had never experienced before in my life.  These women weren’t hiding from one another, or even themselves.  

As they began to talk about God’s Word, they talked about the TRUTH of what it was doing in them, and to them.  And they were not afraid if what they were saying made them look weak, wounded, or incorrect.  They even seemed to support and encourage one anther as they were sharing, as if the more “real” they were, the more courage it gave the others to share what God’s Word was doing to and in them too.  I HAD NEVER SEEN or experienced anything like this!

And as they talked, something was happening in me that had never happened before, I was beginning to feel SAFE.  Right there amid the type of women I had FEARED MOST my entire LIFE, I began to wonder if I too could undress before them, exposing even the most unclean parts of myself, and they wouldn’t judge, but love me, and help me discover how to become clean and real.   What I felt was a true miracle to me, it was true friendship unfolding, like a tiny flower bursting forth from dry ground towards the Light, I was coming alive in relationships that I had never known could be experienced.

That was many years ago and some of those women from that first bible study are still my friends today.  They are the first women I spiritually and emotionally undressed in front of, and I am eternally grateful for the safe, loving and honest environment they provided.

Since then, Jesus has sent many other friends my way.  I remain blown away as, year by year, He continues to unveil the majesty of one of His greatest gifts through these women, the gift of friendship. It is SO completely opposite from what I thought friendship to be in my earlier days.

My true friends do not validate me in my flesh.  But they do validate the process and progress I am making on this journey towards sanctification. They do me the favor of holding the mirror of TRUTH before me, even when it hurts.  They have walked beside me through some of life’s most difficult moments, moments when no words can be spoken.  They have listened to me when my heart has been broken by my own sin, or the sins of loved ones, or the harshness of life and they have offered a SAFE, LOVING shelter upon which to lay my weary head until I can regroup and am ready to Breath again.  My friends are fierce when it comes to allowing lies to exist in me, even when I am the one propagating them. They know to Whom I belong, even when I forget, and they remind me at those times. They don’t leave me to face the lion alone.

Still, my favorite part of friendship in Christ is seeing Christ, Himself, manifest in us.  It’s those moments when I look back at her, and I know she can look back at me, and we can both see the evolution that has taken place within each of us.  I can see it in her, and I stand witness to the beauty that she is becoming as she grows less and less, and He becomes more and more.  And she sees it in me too, and we celebrate the moments together, moments that no one else would understand because they only happen within the sacred realms of relationship.  There is a Supernatural bond that takes place between sisters in Christ, and over time, we get to see all the places Jesus has allowed us to die and become new in Him.  Like a sacred witness, I get to stand, with feet on earth, and watch my sister and friend become a “whole new Creation in Christ.” I have cried and prayed with her through her hundreds of funerals, as she has mine, and we have watched as each other resurrect after each one, more beautiful, strong, and eternal.

Surely, we have been “united together in the likeness of his death”, and yet stand witness to one another’s rising, “to the likeness of His resurrection.”  I get to see Jesus alive and eternal through my friends, and it is a miracle.

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