I thank God every day for my friends. I thank him for many other things as well, but I have a few friends who have been on my mind a lot lately.
I have a very dear friend who wants to lose weight and has asked me to walk with her. After a few months of talking about it, we have yet to go. I rarely exercise, but I concede that it would be good for me to start. Although our goals for walking are different, the outcome could be the same. We could both get into better shape.
Spiritual walks are the same way. Some people talk about getting closer to God, but never actually go to the park and start walking down any path. I read a devotional in The Upper Room this week that reminded me of walking. When you walk in the winter, you sometimes bundle up before you go outside, but as you make progress you begin to shed layers as your body adjusts to the activity.
Sometimes, we hide ourselves under layers of insecurity. We refuse to let others truly know us for fear that they will see our flaws. We build our own barriers to growth. We have to peel off the layers.
People struggle with many things in life: finances, divorce, adultery, drugs, alcohol, abuse, anger, overeating, codependence, illness, and on and on. There is no person who has not sinned or struggled. It is important to find someone who will listen.
For whatever reason, God gave me a gift of comforting. I used to think it was a curse. Strangers have approached me in the past and shared their troubles. WHY? I questioned why God wanted me to hear them and why I was supposed to carry that burden for others.
Finally, I realized that I am not required to carry that burden for them. This is hard for any codependent to understand (and I think all men are somewhat codependent), but my duty to them is to listen. In Celebrate Recovery, where I lead a men’s small group, we learn that speaking what you are holding secret makes all the difference.
As I looked out the window this morning at the gloomy, wet, 20-something degree weather, I laughed that today would not be the day that my friend starts walking to lose weight, or that I start walking to get in shape. Then, I was reminded of the layers of insecurity my friend has shed in our conversations, and it occurred to me that she is already walking.
Although I use one friend as an example, it is really symbolic of the struggles in all of our lives. I have friends who struggle with many of the same issues I mention above and I meet people every week who just need to talk to someone. Usually, they already have the answers but it does them good to share. I pray for them and I hope they pray for me and my concerns as well.
Sometimes, people resist walking because they fear they will stumble. God doesn’t want you to stagnate in your life. He has offered you forgiveness, and you have to accept it. You have to forgive yourself also. This is the hardest thing to do, but guilt, anger, resentment, and repressed emotions cause you harm. If you are angry at someone, does your anger hurt them or you? If you forgive them, does your forgiveness help them or you? The answer to both questions is YOU.
If you think about it, the only time forgiveness helps the person being forgiven is when the forgiveness comes from God. He’s already provided his Grace. When we forgive others, and ourselves, we follow his example and we allow ourselves to accept the Grace in our lives.
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