Throughout these last few months, I’ve gone separate ways from people I thought would be in my life forever. When I began my walk with God almost a year ago, I knew what I needed so badly was to be around people that were walking with Jesus too. I prayed, and God provided. I started going to a church, joined a girls group that met every week, and got to know God through them. The only problem was that I was getting to know their relationship with God more than I was forming my own relationship with Him. I don’t know if it was the place, or me, but I started to fall into the “cookie cutter Christian” lifestyle. If my life didn’t look like everyone else’s, not only would I not fit in with the people I called friends anymore, but what would they think of me? Since at the time my relationship with God was really just me trying to mirror what my friends did, I was so terrified of messing up in their eyes.
As the time went on, I met a guy that I connected with (as friends). I was still doing everything that my church friends were saying was the way things had to be done, trying to people-please in hopes that I was God-pleasing too. I had never been in a “Christian relationship” before, and as romantic feelings for my new guy friend started to grow, I didn’t know how to handle them. I wasn’t even sure of them myself, and I didn’t tell my friends anything more than we were becoming friends. I was immediately hit with a list longer than a CVS receipt of what to do and what not to do in terms of this new friendship. I tried to follow my new set of rules for my new guy friend, but when you are being told by people and not by God the way to do things, it will lead to disaster. The disaster came when I realized I wasn’t going to God, not really, for what He wanted and how He wanted my relationship with this guy to be. The more I sought people’s opinions (people close to my own age who were also still at the beginning of their walk with God) the more confused I became. Not only confused, but I began to feel judged and less-than because I wasn’t listening to what they were telling me. We all see situations from our own point of view, biased by our own experiences, but God sees everything from His eternal, heavenly point of view. Why was I going to people for answers when there’s only One that can fully see the whole picture? Of course, I didn’t realize this at the time, and it led to months of mess with hurts and mistakes, judgments and bitterness.
At the time, I was also taking a class to lead my own small group, and in the wake of all this, I was told by the people who encouraged me to be a leader that I had to wait a long time before I’d be ready to lead that. I think that’s what broke me the most, having people I looked up to tell me that I wasn’t ready or good enough to do something that I was feeling called to do, that that they had encouraged me to do. I let people (that may or may not have been truly praying for me to hear from God rather than listen to their opinions) tell me what to do and what not to do. I was hurting, and eventually with the help of one really great friend, I realized I had to stop listening to people tell me I wasn’t good enough or I wasn’t ready yet and genuinely give it over to God. Fast and pray, pray and fast. And that’s what I did. I prayed and actually listened to God. I felt His peace even in the wake of the mistakes I was making. When I started to feel God put His blessing on my relationship with the guy, I was relieved. I finally had an answer from God. Unfortunately, this caused my friends to think I was “going left” and no longer walking with God. Funny thing is, my relationship with God is now stronger than ever, and growing every day. Even though people couldn’t let go of my past, I have and God has. That’s all that matters. I hear from Him every day, I feel and see His love in ways I haven’t before because I am seeking Him first.
I eventually began to realize just how caught up I had been in the act of it all. Making sure my life and my relationships looked just like my friends because their walks with God seemed really great. I tried to walk in their footsteps rather than see what the Lord had for me specifically. Now that I’m on the other side, there are a few friendships that have been lost. I stopped going to my church because it no longer felt like home. It started to feel like a place of fake smiles and judgment rather than accepting love. I went through rough times, feeling so isolated because I put way too much value on people over God. When those people were no longer there for me, I finally, finally turned to God. He was there, is there, and will always be there.
Almost every day I think of the people that really helped get my relationship with God started. Most are no longer a big part of my life. I take full responsibility for my own mistakes that broke friendships, and I miss them every day. If I could go back, there’s so much I would change. I’d talk less, pray more. I’d forgive sooner. I’d talk to God earlier and avoid a lot of hurt. I can’t go back and change the way things happened, so I find the good in it. God used this situation to teach me so much. I learned to have my own relationship with Him, rather than follow the ways of the people around me. I gained wise counsel in people who have been walking with God for many more years than me. I gained strength through times of weakness. I’m finding a best friend in Jesus, one who will never leave me or think I’m not enough. I have a great relationship with someone who encourages me and pushes me to find more of God every day. I still feel the hurt sometimes, but I’m gaining back my self-worth because I’m taking it out of the hands of temporary people and placing it in the loving hands of a permanent God.