Laced with Grace
Making friends has not ever been very difficult for an extreme introvert as myself.
I know, side splitting for those of you who actually know me.
My best friend Angela, whom I met in elementary school eventually went to another high school. We ended up being lifelong friends and we were able to enjoy each other’s company without disruption. We agreed on most things, our personalities differed but we respected each other’s traits. Our friendship was seamless, strong and took minimal effort.
Sometime after high school, I began to notice my friends were almost always male. It did not bother me as much because I rarely had any issues with dramatic scenes. On the other hand, the girlfriends of those said male friends began to have differing opinions on the matter. Completely naive and unbeknownst to me, I went on about my business and let them carry on with their gossip.
After graduation, I took some time off before jumping in to college. I worked full time and played the other twenty-three hours of the day. Somewhere around 2008 when I transferred to the University of Houston, a lovely young lady I worked with in the Newspaper department introduced me to Kappa Delta Chi, yes, a sorority.
Within a week, I was clearing my scheduling for "RUSH" events. For the first time in my life, there was a group of likeminded young women who dedicated their time to philanthropy, academics ... and a bit of partying.
By the end of the semester, I found myself enriched with this elegant group of future graduates. My senior year I was asked to fill in the Chaplain role of Kappa Delta Chi, an honorable and humbling role. This role taught me how to pray in front a group of women and counsel anyone in distress. Most of all, it opened up the door and let God come in. I did not know of the effect this role I had at the time, but here we are, less than ten years later, full of wisdom, understanding and copious amounts of revelations.
Coincidentally, after graduation, things in my life began to change, dramatically. I married my college sweetheart and began our lives together. I lost touch with my sorority sisters as they too began their lives. Year after year, things became increasingly difficult, with my marriage and "girlfriends" who joined us on the weekends. Things unraveled slowly, burying us into one of the infamous divorce statistics. It was then, without a shadow of a doubt, I vowed to no longer have female friends. The stale taste of jealousy, gossip, and anger lingered longer than the divorce papers and when it was done, so was I.
Walls went up and with great pleasure.
Why? Because if I do not let them in, they cannot hurt me.
Then the "I do not care" attitude set in and I was back in business.
Of course, with walls, I too began to hurt women along the way. Not maliciously but with an undiscovered shiver of regret.
A year or two went by and I befriended a confident and sassy woman named Jennifer. Now, Jennifer is the exception, not the rule, she carried herself with humility and enjoyed her introverted space. I did not. I went in and poked and prodded until she was forced to befriend me as well. We began dancing together on a salsa team and it was over from there. We had a mutually, silencing agreement.
Don't do anything stupid to me, and I won't do anything stupid to you. Our friendship was perfect. After many years, I found a woman worth having around and I did not have a worry about snarly comments, painful regrets and emotional breakdowns.
Four years have passed and I have slowly let my guard down, all by the grace and love of God.
As of late, God has been placing more females in my path. I know it is God because I thoroughly enjoy my drama-free lifestyle and well, it has not quite been as smooth sailing as I had hoped.
God sent two beautifully, vibrant women in my path, women who could not be overlooked. With great hesitation, I began letting God work on my heart, knowing good and well what He was in for; to destroy my hardened heart and create in me a heart of flesh.
So, He did.
Within three months, both of these women calloused my heart. My first reaction, to put the walls back up. To my surprise, the walls were nowhere to be found, only tears. I began questioning God wondering what happened to the "tough girl" and why this hurt so much.
Then He whispered,
Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering; bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do. But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection. And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him. --Colossians 3:12
My tears subsided and I instantly began praying for the each of them. The pain did not instantly disappear but it brought me back down from an emotional one hundred questionnaire to God.
Then I waited. I waited to make sure my flesh would not get the best of me. Then, I waited some more.
Within weeks both of my girlfriends came to me with heavy hearts. Conversations were had and apologies were the least of our concern. Hugs were exchanged and a few secret tears were shed. All in all, God did not only create in me a new heart but he gave my girlfriends, new ones as well.
God wanted me to get out of His way to work on my heart. Truth be told, if I cannot be a true friend with God, then how can I have true friendship on earth?
Friendships with Angela and Jennifer are very rare. This is not the case with all friendships, or relationships in general. Most relationships have differing personalities and God requires much more than my bare minimum to ‘maintain’ friendships. My loving Father requires my heart to be filled with an unlimited amount of mercy and grace, and fortunately He is there when things become increasingly uncomfortable.
Thank you for continuing to work on my heart, creating a heart as beautiful as yours. Thank you for being a faithful God, loyal and true. Forgive me Father if I have come against you or anyone with an unclean heart. I come with an open heart to accept any changes needing to be made to create a woman worth calling a wife, sister, and friend. In Jesus’ Name, Amen