Learning to Hold Tight
By Jennifer Slattery
“… that all of them may be one, Father, just as You are in Me and I am in You.” John 17:21a
I’ve been hurt, betrayed, and abandoned. I’ve had friends slander me and assume the worst. I’ve simultaneously craved relational intimacy and spurned it.
And I’m not alone. Many of us are maintaining surface level friendships, longing to go deeper, to connect with those who love us, flaws and all, but fear of rejection gets in our way.
I get it. I understand the longing to be known fully and loved deeply. I also know the fear that comes from past hurts. We all have scar tissue that makes us leery and self-protecting. So we step into new relationships with our running shoes on, ready to bolt at first sign of conflict.
But that only perpetuates the problem and leads to increased loneliness.
What if we did this whole friendship thing differently? What if we determined to be the type of friend we ourselves long or?
Shortly before His death, Jesus gathered His disciples together. After having told them about all the difficulties that lay ahead—persecution, imprisonment, execution—He prayed that His disciples would be as united to one another as He and the Father were.
That’s deep, enduring unity—the kind that goes well beyond the casual friendships so many of us maintain.
To develop true relational intimacy, we need to love as Christ did. Less than twenty-four hours before His execution, He washed the feet, an act normally performed by servants, of Judas, His betrayer. Then, shortly after His death, Jesus intentionally sought out Peter, the friend who’d denied and abandoned Him.
Jesus’ love wasn’t dependent on other’s reactions, and He didn’t hold grudges. When a rift occurred, like with Peter, Jesus took the initiative to make things right.
If we don’t learn to do the same, to press through the hard and hold tight to one another, we’ll never experience the connectedness we long for.
The next time conflict arises and you’re tempted to run, press in—first to Jesus, and then into the friendship, instead.
Jennifer Slattery is a writer, editor, speaker, and the founder of Wholly Loved Ministries. She writes for Crosswalk, is the author of eight contemporary novels, and helped write Wholly Loved’s Bible study based on the life of Sarai (Gen. 12-23) titled Becoming His Princess, available for free (in ebook form) from Wholly Loved Ministries. When not writing, reading, or editing, Jennifer loves going on mall outings with her adult daughter and coffee dates with her hilariously fun husband. Visit her online at jenniferslatterylivesoutloud.com.
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