In a friend, you find a second self...

"Oh Holy God, I stay amazed...You are so much more than words could ever say..."

When we as non-believers come to Christ and are made new through Him, there are still moments where our sinful nature will prod it's way into our life.  We may be having the most amazing day ever in regards to blessings of God or just seeing His love on a completely new level, yet because we are human...we still slip.  We are still in the world, but we are not to be of the world.  

My senior year of high school, I was voted "class clown," "life of the party," "loudest," and "knows the gossip."  At that time (and in college) I thrived on that.  I was an only child until about the age of 10 and so I was used to being the center of attention.  It's never been hard for me to make friends, but for whatever reason I felt it was important that these characteristics defined who I was.  Because at the time, I didn't know who I was...I had to have someone else label me.  

Going to college was a completely different setting for me and even though I was only 2 hours away from home, it was still a new environment.  A new environment where people didn't know me, so I had to make it known that "this is who I am."  I am the loudest, knows everything about everyone and everything, life of the party class clown who can make everyone laugh.  That's what I wanted everyone to know.  Everywhere I went, for whatever reason, I always felt that my presence had to be known.  Who did I think I was?  

Moving to South Carolina has been a huge turning point for me.  After a few years of different family members living down here on and off, I am finally here alone.  For almost a year now, I've been completely alone and 14 hours away from anyone that knew me.  

This past summer, when I rededicated my life to Christ, I knew that there were so many things about myself that had to change in order for me to become the woman that God wanted me to be.  The biggest thing in my life is gossip.  It's not that I always start the conversation about someone, but for whatever reason, I'm always quick to jump in.  This is something that God has really been dealing with me about.  

Ephesians 4:29-30 says "Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption."

As being someone in the world, it's very hard to fall back into the pattern of a worldly life.  It's something I struggle with and I know other people struggle with.  We aren't perfect.  I'm not perfect.  I've been on both sides of the field when it comes to gossip.  I've talked about someone and I've been talked about.  Neither one of these are pleasing to God.

In today's life that is full of chaos and commotion and confusion, it's easy to misinterept someone's actions or words or thoughts.  I've done this plenty of time.  When something happens, I have my own opinion about it and how I view the situation.  That's doesn't mean it's right.  Chances are, I don't have the entire story.  I learned that tonight more than anything.  

I've also learned that in friendships, sometimes someone has to be the bigger person.  Friendships require a lot of forgiveness.  When we have friends, even best friends, it seems like they are the ones we hurt the most.  Even when we don't mean to.  One of my really great friendships started by forgiveness.  Forgiveness that was necessary because someone very close to both of us at the time, for whatever reason, did not want us to be close.  Therefore, there were always actions and words being said that caused a rift between me and this girl.  As time went on, I knew God was changing me because after 2 years of literally having so much hatred for this girl, God softened my heart for her.  This led to me sending her a message on facebook apologizing for whatever I had done and letting her know that there were things in her life that I could actually relate to.  When it was all said and done, we have become really close and have helped each other grow closer to God.  In the meantime, we have also realized that our differences were mainly caused by someone elses words and actions, and not so much by our own.  In the meantime, I still knew that I had to forgive her for any wrong doing that I thought maybe I had done. 

Going on in Ephesians 4, the Bible tells us in verse 31 and onto verse 32 to "Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you."  

We have a God that we serve that is so fair and just and so forgiving, that we should be molded into His likeness.  If He can forgive us for ALL of the sin and dirt and shame in our life, why does it seem so hard to forgive our friends or people who are around us?  

Ephesians 5:1-2 says "Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God."  

Instead of tearing our friends down and gossiping about people to them or in front of them, let's remember to bring our friends up.  Each of us go through different times and trials in our life where we NEED our friends.  We need these people that God has placed in our life.  I need these people that God has placed in my life.  Each person that God has put in my life, has been put here for a reason.  Sometimes their duration in my life is not that long, but that person has still left an impression on me that has somehow shaped and changed my life.  Everyone makes at least one decision in their life that is based on a friend.  Whether it's making a decision of what to wear, relationships, other friends, work, etc., our decisions are influenced by our friends and what they think.  

I know I have hurt people.  Probably a lot of people and for that I'm sorry.  If I have ever hurt you, or said something about you or to you that was hurtful, I'm sorry.  If I have ever degraded you in anyway or made you feel less valuable than you really are, I'm sorry.  If I have ever looked down upon you for anything in your life that I didn't agree with, I'm sorry.  If I have ever failed you, I'm sorry.  Please forgive me, just as Christ has forgiven me.  I promise to do better and please know that I love you with my whole being.  I love each and every person that God has put in my life.  I don't know where I would be without you.  

Living, He loved me
Dying, He saved me
Buried, He carried my sins far away
Rising, He justified freely forever
One day He’s coming
Oh glorious day, oh glorious day

-Casting Crowns


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