Jennifer Camp, co-founder of Gather Ministries, and author of Loop, grew up in the middle of an almond orchard in Northern California and now lives in the busy Bay Area with her husband and three kids. A former high school English teacher, she loves to write, but she especially loves to encourage people to seek and live out the truth of their story, their identity in Christ. You can find her writing at her blog, Jennifer J. Camp .You can connect with Jennifer on both Facebook and Twitter. She would love to have you join her there.
Six years old, on the long bus rides to school, the Color People were my friends. I'd stare hard at the metal seatback in front of me until my eyes saw circular blotches of rainbow swirling on smoothed-bumped silver. They knew what I was thinking, what I was feeling. I would come to them and they would come to me. They knew what I needed, and all I had to do was show up. They required nothing from me. They simply loved--at least the version of love that comes from dots of color produced in the imagination of a little girl's mind on her way to school on the right side of the school bus.
With the Color People, I was not expected to behave a certain way or asked to do a certain thing to be accepted. I was accepted for who I was, no matter what I was thinking or feeling.
When friendships get hard now--real life friendships, the kind where two people come together and say real words aloud and move into each other's real lives--is when acceptance of one another feels conditional. Love isn't love--friendship isn't friendship--if it exists only when things are easy. And I think it is tough for us to be real and open with one another when life is hard, when the finances are tight, when our heart is aching for a loved one suffering, when our family is difficult to talk to, when we feel we are alone and no one could truly understand.
We struggle to reach out for help and believe we can be loved when we are most desperate for help, when we are most wanting of love.
I think two things I struggle with in friendships are asking for help--and surrendering my desire to "fix" a situation when a friend of mine is hurting. I am reluctant to let people in often, because (1) I don't want to be a burden and (2) I don't like to admit I don't have it all together. Can you see how I struggle with pride?
Not sharing my true self, my true mess, my true heart with a friend is so hurtful, both to ourselves and to the relationship. We can't dig in deep and be real with one another unless we trust God is in the center of the friendship and He is big enough to take care of our mess. He is our friend first. Unless I believe and trust Jesus as my friend, I can't surrender pride, I can't love and trust another, I can't be a friend or let my friends attempt to love me well.
“Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him, and he with Me” (Revelation 3:20).
I am the friend who asks to be invited in. I am the friend in the quiet, the quiet within you, the guest outside the door knocking, waiting. I am here, not far away. And I don’t tell you I am waiting to be invited in because I want you to feel guilty or sad or discouraged. I am not telling you I stand, outside, waiting, for the purpose of making you feel you need to work harder, listen better, be a kinder daughter to Me.
I am your friend, and I love you. And I desire friends who love, who nurture, who pour kindness into one other. You can hear Me. You can be that friend, with Me.
I want you to know I am the friend who will not disappoint. I am the friend who will be strong when you need Me to be. I am the friend who will give you words of hope when you feel sad or disappointed. I am the friend who knows what you mean when you say “I am dying inside” or “I am so alone” and you are lost and afraid of the quiet.
I am the friend who can be heard, even amidst noise. Your heart can be tuned to Me, in any situation. But in the quiet, it can be easiest to hear Me. You can be busy and bustling around. But remember I am the friend who equips you to love others. And without you letting Me in, into your relationships, into your work, into your moments of doing and going and trying, you will feel hollow inside. You will feel alone.
I am the friend who knows everything about you and knows you can, indeed, hear Me.
Shall I come in?
The words above are excerpted from Loop, "My Friend". What sentence did you most need to hear? What kind of friend do you need right now? How do you struggle in trusting in that kind of relationship--what Jesus calls, "friend"?
This post first appeared at You are My Girls.com