Nobody Told Me Life Was Gonna Be This Way
Before I woke up this morning, I received a text message from a new friend regarding our upcoming book project. In my e-mails, another new friend, Ntegrity, who I met last year sent me a new song he wrote called,Change the World. The song will act as the opening music for a new weekly show I will be hosting with Kurt Wilson (another friend I met a couple years ago) called, Let’s Change St. Louis – which will air live on Wednesday’s at 6pm live from the Testimony House live streaming studio. (You can watch the show by visiting facebook.com/testimonyhouses.)
The night before, my wife Megan and I were happy to host Kevin, Caleb and Ashlynn – who are all a part of Testimony House, at our home for the taping of a special Super Bowl episode of a show called Storylines on our live stream network. We held the Chicken Bowl, a debate between which restaurant was better between Chick-Fil-A and Raising Cane’s.
Kevin, who has been my friend for a decade and part of the ministry there from the beginning, has been my closest and sometimes only friend for much of my adult life. Caleb and Ashlynn, we met about six months ago but have all of us have become fast friends. My wife and Ashlynn especially so.
All of the above relationships that are being built or have already been put in my life recently have filled my heart with joy. I was thanking God this morning for surrounding me with good friends. All of these moments are an answer to a prayer I have been asking for a long time. “Lord, please send me godly friends.”
I’ve never had a large group of friends. I am an expert introvert. Especially when I was at the height of my addiction, I could hide from the world for months, spending all of my time in my own company. I would reject phone calls and invitations. When I was feeling depressed, guilt or shame for my behavior before Christ, I would hide. I never developed the tools to build multiple friendships. Nor did I care to.
The relationships I did build at that time in my life weren’t the right ones. I remember sharing my addiction and its disastrous results in my life with one friend who I would have considered a best friend at the time. Instead of empathizing or offering advice for how to get help, my “friend” asked me to sneak illegally onto the casino floor with him because as he said, “You don’t really have a problem.”
Megan has had her shares of struggles too. Since meeting and subsequently marrying me, several close friendships in her life have either deteriorated in some way or been fractured to the point of nonexistence. Some people in her life really rejected the idea of her being my wife. That conflict caused Megan and I struggled and battled getting to the altar – which was something we both knew God wanted us to do.
After we were married, we closed ourselves off to building new relationships and instead spent the next couple of years building one with each other. We were chasing God’s plan for our lives. I don’t think we considered the fact that we would need to find new friendships and rebuild old ones to fulfill those plans. We were focusing more on the hurt that some of our relationships were causing us.
A couple years later, we woke up with holes in our hearts where friendships once filled. While we had found many people to spend time with over the years, none of relationships formed had much significance. Megan and I began to pray and have faith for God to send new friends but made sure to request friends who are also chasing God’s plan and purpose for their lives.
The Bible has more to say about friendship than the combined conversation about Heaven and Hell. More than 200 scriptures dedicated to teaching believers the importance and value of friends. Proverbs describes four types of people that live in the world wise, simple, foolish and scornful. A deeper look into those people groups will reveal that spending time with the wrong people can lead a good life to bad places.
Walk with the wise and become wise, for a companion of fools suffers harm. Proverbs 13:20
In a good environment, a barrel of apples can stay edible for a long period of time. Yet, if one moldy or bad apple is introduced to the group, even under good conditions will eventually spread rot and decay to most if not all of the apples in its community. This applies to friendships too. Having a bad friend can spoil a group. God has hundreds of Scriptures dedicated to making us aware of the fact that who you spend time with is important.
This morning, I am thankful for the people God has surrounded my life with. I remember the times it wasn’t like this. I am also grateful for a season of marriage building, but just as thankful to see my marriage grow these new and hopefully long-lasting friendships that can edify and sharpen us for years to come.
There are "friends" who destroy each other, but a real friend sticks closer than a brother. Proverbs 18:24
It’s important to recognize God moving in your life. It’s also important to recognize the effect that the people you spend time with have on your life. I encourage you to pray and ask God who is valuable and what relationships might be bad because a bad relationship may not be noticeable every time you’re together. A bad apple won’t ruin the bunch overnight, but over time. You may not always notice the mold spreading in your friendship under the surface and that is why you sometimes need God’s wisdom and discernment to reveal who your good friends are.
If you are looking to fill your friendship sized heart holes in your life, I would encourage you to pray and ask for wisdom and discernment for how to continue to both build further onto those friendships with an already strong foundation and also for the peace and comfort necessary to release those that are harmful. Then pray and ask God to send wise God-fearing friends into your life. When they show up, thank God and enjoy your good apples.
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