I've acquired quite the reputation

Over the past two years or so I'd say I've acquired a reputation among the people who have gotten to know me both on a deep level and as an acquaintance. I've seen my identity in Christ unfold into a woman of boldness and courage who is outgoing and the first to jump into establishing new relationships with other women.

I have to tell you though, this is all very new and exciting for me. I was not this woman that you see. I was insecure, quiet, and you wouldn't catch me in a room full of women if my life depended on it. I had female friendships that typically were hanging on by a thread, based on a very shallow foundation and they usually came one at a time.

The reason why my heart aches to share this with you is because I have been coming into contact with so many women who are terrified of not only pursuing relationships with other women but who are also terrified of being pursued in a meaningful relationship. There are so many good reasons for this fear because so many of us have been burned along the way by at least one woman in our lives. Whether it just started with our own moms or if it was a friend somewhere alone the way. But we have to remember that fear is not from God and that very justifiable fear can very easily keep us at an unsafe distance from God.

"One who has unreliable friends soon comes to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother." -Proverbs 18:24

We not only need deep friendships but God will give them to us! This word is for each of us, not just the lucky few who fall into these close friendships. But I also believe that we have to put in a little effort. For me I didn't wake up one morning and decide I was going to invest in other women and find close friendships, I prayed and God answered, and he started with just one. The amazing thing about God is that his answers can often come in such abundance that we don't even know what to do with it. After I was blessed with one good friend women started pouring into my life. I felt like God opened the flood gates and all these women and potential friends poured right into my lap. But with this came great responsibility because I had to put my fear aside and become transparent and open to these amazing women. There were and still are days where I have to pray and rely on God to just give me small talk so I can interact but there are days when God equips me so beautifully that I can pour my heart out to these women and grow so closely with them.

I can selfishly sit back and settle into these amazing friendships and I can slide into a cliche so easily and I would be so very happy but I feel very strongly that that isn't the vision God has for our relationships.

"Let your roots grow down into him, and let your lives be built on him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness." -Colossians 2:7

We are supposed to grow our roots deep into Christ and friendships and relationships are one vital way that this happens but this is a two way thing. I can't just sit in my comfort zone and reep all the benefits of quality friendships. I have a job to reach out and establish these intimate and eternal connections with all of my sisters in Christ so that they can start to build their lives on Christ too.

And this has nothing to do with how shy, outgoing, extroverted, or introverted I am. We are called to be in intimate community with every one and the best part is that God will equip us and empower us for that no matter what our personality tries to tell us.

"Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God."- Hebrews 12:1-2

There is freedom from our fear and we can "lay aside" the "weight" of our insecurity and shyness and we can pursue intimacy with other people and we may get burned a lot along the way but look who were are supported and equipped by, "Jesus the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God." Who can stand against us if HE is for us?!

Now this doesn't come without struggle and fear often sneaks up onto us but we are empowered by a mighty God! Jesus didn't walk this earth living out shallow and surface level relationships, he was intimate with everyone and loved everyone so deeply that he died in the most shameful way for us. We aren't even asked to lay down our lives necessarily but we are so afraid to love people that deeply mostly because its scary and hurts sometimes. I am not trivializing the pain that people can inflict on us but  I am saying compared to the pain Jesus faced we should be able to walk this life with confidence and amazing endurance despite the outcome.

This all may seem way too lofty and unattainable and alone it is but our God is faithful and cares so deeply about us and our lives together that if and when we lean on him he will gently guide and help us become more like Jesus so we can be that image to everyone around us.

I challenge you, and I continue to challenge myself, to step away from our fears, our comforts, our excuses, and trust in the mighty hand of God to allow us to touch the hearts of everyone around us in a profound and intimate way.

Dear Jesus,
I thank you so much for the freedom we find in you. I thank you for your call on each of our lives to look and act more like you. I pray that we will seek to do your work in a powerful way. I pray you will equip us to courageously step into the lives of the people around us and to sit at the tables of their hearts and pour ourselves into them. We have the power through you to make other women feel loved, safe, and cherished. But we also so easily make other women feel quite the opposite. Equip and guide us to make them feel the latter. Help us set aside our fears and the weight of who we think we are and help us to cling to the truths of who you say we are. We are mighty and brave and we are a powerful tool for your kingdom. Use us right where we are.


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