She unwrapped the box in front of me. In it was a gift from my heart.
Two matching bracelets for two best friends…Christian sisters.
I loved her and just knew that we were going to be friends forever. I was terrified of trusting her because people have always hurt me. But we had gotten to know each other for five years and she knew more about me than anyone. If I was ever going to have a BFF…she had to be it. I’d never been more vulnerable to anyone in my life.
I wanted her to know how terrified I was so I bought us these bracelets so that whenever I felt fear rise up in me…I could remember this moment of her acceptance of me and her commitment to me…to always love me no matter what and never leave me…no matter what.
I remember tears welling up in her eyes because she really loved me too.
We put our bracelets on and embraced each other and vowed to be BFF’s forever.
I look back on that day and it breaks my heart. I had no idea how to have a healthy relationship with someone and I wasn’t about to start with this sweet one.
Instead, our relationship and her approval of me became my identity. It was how I found my worth. She loved me. I loved her. And we had matching bracelets to prove it. Fail proof right?
The relationship was a drain on both of us, unfortunately, because people are not made to be our god. It was not her responsibility to keep me built up and to feel like I was worthy. I was trying to get her to fulfill something in me that only God could do. For that, I am deeply sorry.
That friendship ended after much brokenness but God used it in ways that set me on a course to know who I really am in Christ. For that, I am eternally grateful.
In fact, lots of relationships were broken and fell away for me in this season and with it came much pain…and great bouts of fear…of people.
For a while, I hung tightly to the vow of I WILL NEVER LET SOMEONE GET CLOSE TO ME AGAIN.
I will never be in relationship with someone ever again!
In my mind (at that time), that also included my husband.
I would trust no one…ever again. I will control who or what gets near me. I will shut out anyone that remotely looks like they could cause pain. This pretty much meant everyone (except my sweet girls).
I will not give anyone the chance to reject me ever again. I will reject them first.
Oh my…the madness of it all. It’s just such a stupid waste of time. Thinking thoughts like “You can’t hurt me…I will hurt you first!”
And this is my Christianity? Why am I a believer again?
Jesus…He is so beautiful to me….while I’m wrestling all this out…He simply loved me and pursued me…over and over again.
I’ve betrayed Him and despised Him at times and He has done nothing but be good to me. I’m so thankful God didn’t choose to handle me the way I chose to handle others in my pain.
He has lavished me (and continues to do so) with grace, forgiveness and love through Jesus.
Why wouldn’t I be willing to do the same to others after all He has done for me?
Here’s the deal sweet peeps.
Being in relationship with people is hard work. I will fail. You will fail.
Unfortunately…more than we would like.
But when your identity is in Christ…(not people, places, ministries, things, insert whatever here)…those failures stop becoming personal attacks.
We can then offer forgiveness and grace from a heart that is secure in Christ…who died for me and you…while we were still acting like fools.
I can still have great friendships with great Christian sisters and my whole world doesn’t have to crumble when they fail me or hurt me. We are stable because our God is never unstable.
As I healed and started to truly understand my identity in Christ, I was able to open my heart and invite my husband close to me. I was then able to grow more and open my heart to relationships outside my family. And I have been abundantly blessed to have some really precious friends who are actively a part of my life.
Have I been hurt since? YES…but it’s different for me now.
God is my Joy, my Salvation, my Savior and I love Him with my whole heart, soul, mind and strength.
As a result, my heart is full.
Any relationship outside of my family is a beautiful blessing to me.
A blessing…not my identity.
God went above and beyond in His mercy towards me. I have hurt my husband in ways I hate to think about…yet…My husband forgives me and loves me with a love that can only come from Christ. He doesn’t find his identity in me. His identity rests in God alone.
I love my husband with a love that only exists because we seek after Christ together. Does he fail? Sometimes…cause he is not perfect but my identity doesn’t rest in him and his perfect work…it rests in God alone and the perfect work done on the cross.
And even farther His mercies stretched as He gave me a sister halfway across the states…one with a story just like mine…
By God’s great grace, she, too, has discovered her true identity. Her walk of revelation started a few years ahead of me. She is still walking it out but we can now do it together.
She has helped me see Jesus in the midst of my pain…and she loves me by reminding me that whether we have each other or not…whether everyone is against us or not…Jesus is everything to us. He is all that matters above all else. I am already accepted. I am already loved. I already have everything I need in Him…in Christ alone.
I don’t have to hide from relationships with people. I can throw open my doors and windows and welcome people in.
Even the ones who might hurt me.
I can make myself vulnerable, just like my sweet friend did with me, and help someone on their journey…pointing them to our Healer, Jesus Christ.
With Him all things are possible…yes…even relationships with people. He wants that for us. Real relationships…It’s what we were made for.
Have I got this relationship thing down pat? NO WAY!
But for the first time in my life, people don’t make or break me. Yes, they can hurt me. Yes, they can not like me and reject me….and I still hate that very much…but I can still follow Christ and do what He asks of me.
Not finding my identity in people has opened my eyes to be able to see that we are all alike…in need of a Savior.
In Christ Alone.
In Christ alone my hope is found,
He is my light, my strength, my song;
this Cornerstone, this solid Ground,
firm through the fiercest drought and storm.
What heights of love, what depths of peace,
when fears are stilled, when strivings cease!
My Comforter, my All in All,
here in the love of Christ I stand.
In Christ alone! who took on flesh
Fulness of God in helpless babe!
This gift of love and righteousness
Scorned by the ones he came to save:
Till on that cross as Jesus died,
The wrath of God was satisfied –
For every sin on Him was laid;
Here in the death of Christ I live.
There in the ground His body lay
Light of the world by darkness slain:
Then bursting forth in glorious Day
Up from the grave he rose again!
And as He stands in victory
Sin’s curse has lost its grip on me,
For I am His and He is mine –
Bought with the precious blood of Christ.
No guilt in life, no fear in death,
This is the power of Christ in me;
From life’s first cry to final breath.
Jesus commands my destiny.
No power of hell, no scheme of man,
Can ever pluck me from His hand;
Till He returns or calls me home,
Here in the power of Christ I’ll stand.