“As I grew closer to them I grew further from Jesus”

SEPTEMBER IS FRIENDSHIP MONTH for REAL WOMEN with blogs, Dear Grace videos, and testimonies

These testimonies are from real women with real life experiences who are sharing their stories to hopefully help encourage you and help you relate to their experiences.

Friendships are the most rewarding and the hardest thing in life. I remember thinking of Jesus as my friend when I was about 3 years old. I used to sing worship songs to Him on our backyard swing set. He listened, brought peace and happiness to me, and just felt so close. As life continued to get harder and I realized how mean people could be, those moments with Jesus on the swing set felt so far away. I wanted to be a good friend to others, but I was shy and naïve, which people sadly took advantage of. I had a friend in fourth grade that made me sign a contract that I would be her friend forever. It seemed innocent but also came with a lot of pressure. By the time I entered middle school we were no longer friends and other girls started to sometimes talk to me. For some reason I thought I wasn’t “worthy” of being in their group, but eventually they accepted me. We pretty much remained a group throughout high school, but since most of them weren’t Christians and I was a weak Christian, as I grew closer to them I grew further from Jesus. We were fairly moral as a group and swore we would never drink or party like “those kids,” yet within a year we were right there doing the same things.

Not being firmly grounded in my friendship with Jesus allowed for a lot of relationship pain during my years in high school. I started dating a “friend” that seemed really nice but ended up being abusive in every way. He would compliment me, then tear me down again and again and again for over 2 years. Physical harm, emotional harm, and verbal harm were normal for me during those years. I was just wanting a friend, but lacking discernment and not seeking God’s protection and best for me ended up devastating a season of my life.

Moving into the later years of life, I tried to help a lot of people by being their friend but was only covering up my unhealed scars. I poured everything into my relationships, but most were one sided. I would serve them, care about them, follow up with them, and listen to them but this was rarely done in return. Finally, I turned back to Jesus with my pain and brokenness. He was the best friend, and I realized how much I needed Him to heal me, guide me, forgive me, take my shame, and teach me how to have a healthy friendship (beginning with my husband). We had some hard years learning how to be friends to each other. We both carried baggage and carry-ons from our past. We really wanted to know what a good marriage was and how to actually enjoy life together. We worked together at reading the Bible, praying, and helping each other heal, and after some years we are doing better than we could imagine.

There were women along the way that I invested in, many for 10+ years. Sadly many were one sided again and they betrayed me by spreading lies. I asked the Lord how I could have possibly let that happen and have been so blind? I thought I was doing better and was able to read people better? There were days I didn’t ever want to be friends with women again because it hurt so bad! Those were some lonely times. I prayed for discernment and God taught me to forgive, move on, and trust Him to bring Godly women into my life that I could have a mutual friendship with. What a gift! I had put too much emphasis on needing a friend rather than waiting for God to bring people and invest slowly. Building trust takes time but it’s well worth the wait! I’m so thankful that God taught me how to be and have a good friend through Jesus’ example. I realized He even had people betray Him, but He also had a few that were worth the patient investment.

I would encourage you to journal and pray about any hurt you carry from past or current relationships. Ask God if your friendships help you grow closer to Jesus or further away? Ask God to show you how to proceed or set boundaries? Ask God to give you discernment of how to be and pick a healthy friend? Listen for His wisdom through the Bible, prayer, and wise counsel.

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