so a friend sharpens a friend."
I used to say I had a lot of friends. Now, I would say (and prefer it this way) that I have a lot of friendly acquaintances, and a few true friends. Just what constitutes a true friend? For me, it's someone who you trust implicitly, someone you can tell all to and be confident they won't judge you or think less of you. A true friend will stay in touch across the miles; even if you rarely talk, when you do it's like no time has passed. A true friend understands you even when you can't quite get the words out right. And a really good friend speaks truth into your life. They are not afraid of upsetting you or offending you...they care about you so much that they will tell you the truth when no one else will.
True friends sharpen each other.
I had some of those kick me in the butt moments with friends a few times this last week...some were more gentle than others...all of them were necessary. Letting you in on bits and pieces of each of these conversations makes me feel a tad exposed and vulnerable, but while I don't believe in sharing every detail on this blog, I do like to share my struggles. I feel like if one other person is having a similar struggle and can be encouraged, it's worth it...so here are a few glimpses into some conversations I had this week...
Chatting with my cousins (whom we only get to see about once a year) at the dinner table, one of them asked what the Lord had been teaching/showing me lately. I stuttered a bunch of nothing for about five minutes and was sweating and nervous. I have no idea why! I just felt put on the spot, and honestly couldn't generate a coherent response! Then my sweet cousin Sarah stepped in and said, so eloquently, what I was desperately trying to spit out. She knows me and knew what I was trying to say and literally took the words from deeper in my brain than I was able to reach and spoke them. I was so grateful, not only because she ended the awkward moment for me, but because she helped me realize something that I had been trying to put my finger on for over a month now, but couldn't. In a nutshell, I have been frustrated because I've been spending time with God each day, but not feeling a change, not sensing any spiritual growth. In her gracious words, sometimes we're 'gluttonous' with our intake (devotions, Bible reading, sermon listening, etc.), but don't take the time to process any of it. We devour the Word, thirsty for more, but don't meditate on it, journal what God is showing us, pray about it, sit on it and let it change us. She hit the nail on the head. That's exactly where I've been. A mile wide and an inch deep, spiritually speaking. I need to slow down and just let God do what He will. I used to read a little, pray a lot, journal, process, dig deep and really grow in the process, but lately I've slept later and not given myself time to slow down and really spend quality time with God. I knew something was not right, but when asked what I've been learning and then not having an answer, my cousin (and one on my best friends in the world) was able to gently show me where I've been going wrong lately. I didn't even realize it, simple as it seems.
Conversation numero dos: not such a fun one. Went out with my two dear friends and former roommates in Nashville. Got smacked around (in love of course). I was complaining of being in the midst of an early mid life crisis (I was being dramatic okay!), pouring out my pathetic little heart waiting for them to sympathize and lick my wounds for me. Yeah...not so much. They lovingly called me out in some areas I was totally blind to, and honestly rocked my world a little bit. I think I'll keep this conversation between me and them, but I was so appreciative that they were so brutally honest with me, because not a lot of people would have been! I know it took courage for them to be honest with me.
Last but not least, I met with one of my best friends a couple of days ago for a quick visit. She's one of those who I hardly ever see or even talk to on the phone much, but we always pick up right where we left off, and she probably understands me more than anyone. Love this girl. She is the third or forth person in a row to speak into my life about the need to be perfect (in certain areas) and how I need to stop! She's been there, done that and is just a step ahead of me in getting to a healthy place in the 'life of a perfectionist/people pleaser.' I was going to go into more detail on this, but I think I'll save it for another post. I'm already being long winded, and my hubby just got home, so I need to wrap up.
All of this is to say, I truly feel blessed to have such amazing, Godly women in my life who sharpen me, and who allow me to sharpen them as well. It's amazing to me that we are scattered all over the country, yet we're as close as ever across the miles. I am cultivating a few of those friendships here where I live too, and am blessed by each and every one of them, and I pray that I'm the kind of true friend that I described earlier to each person I call 'friend'.