I remember one of the first times I shared my story with a new friend of mine. We were developing a friendship that I knew would last for a long time, I valued her in my life, and I wanted to be open with her about all that God had accomplished in redeeming my life through salvation.
I also remember being afraid of what she might think. Fear and shame will do that to you. We are afraid of what people will think of us. And sometimes we’re afraid people will think the very thoughts about us that we already think about ourselves.
For me, I was afraid she would confirm my inner battle—the inner battle that often raged in my soul of whether or not I was truly worthy to be called a daughter of God. My head knew the truths. My head knew the Scriptures. But my heart would sometimes argue back and tell me that it didn’t always feel like I was the daughter of the King. My heart would remind me of all the ways I had hurt my Father in heaven.
The war waged on. Telling my story meant inviting my friend in. And it meant she, too, would have a response to my new life—to the person God was molding me into. I feared that she would wonder how a sinner like me could be saved by God. She knew Jesus and His truth like I did, but she also was about to hear about a past that I wasn’t very proud of.
I opened myself up completely to this friend. I told her everything. I invited her into parts of my story that I would have rather kept to myself, but I knew enough to know that these parts make God look so very amazing. They shine such a light on His love, His grace, His mercy, and His forgiveness that they needed to be said aloud.
My friend, who fifteen years later is still my friend, was just what I needed in a friend that day. I went into the conversation trembling with fear, but I left the conversation with my head held high. My friend was such a true friend to me that day, and as I look back on this moment and many other moments I’ve shared over the years with friends, I am reminded of a few things that I think make friendships so valuable in our walk with the Lord.
1. Friends listen well.
Listening means that sometimes you’re not talking. Listening means a willingness to hear what the other is saying without trying to fix them or immediately solve all of their problems.
In the past when I’ve tried to open up or share something personal with a friend and they can’t listen to me well, I immediately wonder if this friendship will be beneficial for us both. My most trusted, reliable, God-honoring friends are ones who listen really well when I share.
James 1:19 says, “My dear brothers and sisters, understand this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to anger …”
2. Friends hurt with you.
A true friend listens to your story, hears your pain, hears your struggles, and sits in that pain with you. I’ve had friends rejoice with me and weep with me throughout my life, and a friend who has not experienced your pain for themselves but still mourns with you is the truest of friends. When a friend hurts, we hurt with them.
Romans 12:15 says, “Rejoice with those who rejoice; weep with those who weep.”
3. Friends point you to Jesus.
A true friend listens first, sits with you in your pain (which often means giving you space before jumping in to what comes next), and then always points you to the only One who can ultimately heal, help, and comfort you.
There have been times when I’ve wondered if I’m good enough, if I’m worth anything, if my family will survive, if there’s hope for tomorrow, or if I should continue in ministry. In those moments, my true friends tell me not what I want to hear, but what God’s Word says about all of those things. They remind me of what I know is true, because my heart is struggling to believe.
1 Peter 2:9 says, “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the praises of the one who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.”
Find those friends.
Friends are truly one of my greatest gifts from God. Friendships that can weather the storms and triumphs of life are the ones worth holding onto. Find those friends who listen well, hurt when you hurt, and constantly point you back to the Redeemer of your life.