Friendships are a source of both joy and heartache.
As women, we seem to have a greater need for friendships than men do. Our friendships run deeper. Men like to “do things” with friends. Women want to “know things” about each other. We like to do things together too, like shopping, but we want to talk while we do it!
Girls are naturally drawn to each other. A girl’s first experience with heartache may have been over a lost “best friend” rather than a “boy friend”. When friendships are lost, women grieve.
We do not just grieve for the friendship, but also for the secrets shared, the trust given and the acceptance enjoyed. If betrayed, the pain runs deep. No one can cause you more harm than someone you have trusted in deeply.
Your best friend in school knows who you are afraid of and who you secretly like. She knows you still keep your Barbies in your room and you cried for a week when Shaun Cassidy got married. She knows your Mom drinks and you “came this close” to letting your cousin touch you there…
Most recall a time in school when a friend we trusted proved to have loose lips. It cut like a knife and that is when it starts – the creation of the mask.
The mask is the “you” you are willing to let the world see. We hide behind our masks, thinking we are better off, but we lose so much. If no one knows I’m struggling, I deny them the chance to minister to me and keep me accountable. I lose the good advice of mature Christians, not to mention their prayers.
However it started and however it was reinforced, we want to look at how we can take the mask off and start to be real.
We don’t want to risk letting people see the bad stuff. If we let people see just the good stuff – if we never let them see the bad – we will be accepted and enjoy good friendships.
If you are being accepted by people because of the false front you present – then deep down you know it is only the false front being accepted. The real you will remain terribly alone and you know it. That is why so many women who we see as “picture perfect” are struggling with deep insecurities.
How do we start?
Before we can allow others to see inside of us, we have to accept who we are.
If we are not comfortable with who we are on the inside, we will always hide behind walls. I lived too many years without God in my life and when my eyes were spiritually opened, I was all at once deeply ashamed but completely accepted I was amazed that God would love and accept me, just as I am.
“This is real love. It is not that we loved God, but that he loved us..” (1 John 4:9-10 NLT)
God loved me before I ever loved Him. He is the one who initiated our relationship. God did not wait for me to clean up my act so He could love me. I was a rotten person with all kinds of emotional baggage and bad habits!
“When we were utterly helpless, Christ came at just the right time and died for us sinners…God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.” Romans 5:6-8.
God looked down on me when I was utterly helpless! And He loved me.
If we can learn to live our life through our Father’s eyes, we will accept ourselves as imperfect people. We will learn to accept others as imperfect people too. We will be able to take off our masks and allow others to do the same.
Intimacy = Into me see.
Intimacy is allowing others to see what is inside. Scary idea isn’t it? Practicing intimacy with others is all about learning to be transparent. The only way we are going to learn to be transparent ourselves is by practicing acceptance of others.
How do you respond to people who are being transparent? People who are letting it all hang out, with no pretenses or masks? Do you see the negatives and immediately judge them? Do you find yourself secretly wishing that they would put a mask on?
Honestly, I have thought that! Sometimes it is just easier to not see inside of others! But that is just selfishness. That is not the heart of our Father in heaven. He sees inside of all of us and loves us anyways.
Next time someone comes along with no masks on, with their emotions and negative traits hanging out, take time to really check them out. Look them in the eye and consider everything about them that drives you crazy!
Now love them, because God does.
Then go in the bathroom and look yourself in the eye. Don’t start thinking “Well, at least I don’t go around like that!” or “I’m not so bad compared to that.” That will ruin everything. No, look and see the real you. See the you that is most definitely not perfect.
Now love yourself.
It will be a freeing experience for you. You will be on the way to accepting yourself and others.
If you are living behind a mask, I encourage you to take it off! Go to someone you can trust, maybe a Pastor or Christian counselor to start. If you have been wearing a mask for long, you may need to so slow. That’s okay, just don’t move backwards!
I have shared my insecurities with people who in turn used them against me. I have shared my dreams with people and been made fun of. I have reached out in friendship only to be rejected completely. I won’t lie. It hurts. But for every time that I have been hurt, I have a longer list of times that I have been blessed. I have made friends I would never have imagined. I have been amazed to see God use my testimony to give another woman hope.
Intimacy is not for every relationship. You do not have to lay your heart bare for everyone. That isn’t even healthy. Intimacy is different for every relationship. I have a few close relationships. These are women who I can go to with anything without being condemned or judged. I have other friends who I enjoy spending time with because we share interests or values. But I would not talk to them about intimate subjects. Our friendships just do not go that deep. It doesn’t mean that I value the people any less than my confidants; I just enjoy them on a different level. It’s not important that I am intimate with a lot of people, just that I am experiencing intimacy with some.
Relationships come and go. I look back and see women who have greatly impacted my life. Many of them are not in my life today because of geographical moves. I believe God does this to keep me from leaning too much on others, so that I will lean on Him! Instead of becoming insecure and afraid to invest myself into new friendships, I have come to see them as a gift from God for a season.
You see, our very Best Friend can be Jesus. People make mistakes, but He never does. He never betrays a trust or makes fun. He always listens and gives good advice. He always builds up and never tears down. He invites us into uninhibited intimacy with Him. He knows our heart and He longs for us to know His. It is a relationship that can never be taken from us by distance or death. It is a forever love that will sustain us through everything.
If you don’t know Jesus in this way, I want to invite you to get to know Him today. It starts with a prayer.
Wherever you live, there are some great churches nearby that you can plug into. Tell someone there that you prayed to accept Jesus and you want to know everything there is to know about Him.