Let’s Talk About Friendship

For the past few weeks, I’ve been pondering on why it’s so difficult to build true, soul relationships with other people. It’s difficult to start to begin with and eventually they become difficult to keep.

I’ve watched people come and go and I’ve watched friendships form and disintegrate. When I see this in my life and in the lives of the people around me, I can’t help but wonder why it has to be so hard. Why is there envy and strife even in friendships? Why do people gossip and take sides? Why can’t we all just love and support each other without turning it into a competition?

Is it even worth it to try anymore?

The Holy Spirit then started reminding me of certain memories.

Back in 2015, I was in Ilocos with my friends when the vacation turned into a battleground. I was prophesying over some and ended up being horrendously attacked by the enemy. When I was being beaten to the ground, the very friends I prayed for ended up being the ones covering for me.

When one of my friends confessed about being assaulted, in the midst of tears, pain and anger, we stood over her and bound everything that the enemy was bringing upon her. We ended the night singing songs of victory.

On one of our trips to Tagaytay, a birthday getaway turned into two straight nights of declaring healing over the lives of each other, bringing to light certain pains and hurts we have so long kept in the dark. Forgiveness was given and relationships were restored then and there.

Dozens of similar stories then started to pop in my head, because it was never just a one-time thing. This was something the fellowship lived and breathed and prayers were given without ever hesitating. These were friendships that went beyond shared hobbies and similar taste in music; these were friendships centered in Christ. We stood by each other through seasons and we fought for each other’s destinies and families.

When we said we had each other’s backs, we meant it life or death.

I see. That’s what makes it so difficult.

Because it was always powerful. Such relationships are powerful. It brings freedom and restoration and that is exactly why the enemy will do everything in his power to hinder and stop you from even wanting to try. He will have you turn on each other, get annoyed at one another, be too busy to even care. He will bring in doubt, impatience, slander, and anything else possible to break you apart. He will make you feel ignored, unwanted, dejected, and rejected so you keep your heart locked and safe, away from anyone who can make you feel the same again.

Look, it’s true that vulnerability is hard. It’s one thing to tell others how you are and it’s another to show your heart and open your life for them to see all the places you have yet to be holy. It’s absolutely frightening, especially for those that have experienced trusting others only to end up in betrayal and heartbreak.

And really, who hasn’t fought to open their heart up to someone only to find it pierced? Who hasn’t watched their friends turn into the mob and the jury, yelling accusations and demanding crucifixion?

Jesus Himself was betrayed by Judas after all.

But while the scars are bound to remind you to be careful next time, we are reminded that Jesus gained the scars in His hands while hanging naked on a cross – uncovered and unmasked.

Love doesn’t really get any more vulnerable than that.

And we were meant to live as Christ did after all.

“This is my command: Love each other as I have loved you.”
-John 15:12

It may be easier to hide your heart away, but we were never meant to live the easy way.

My relationship with my best friend Belle is probably the longest one I’ve managed to maintain that remains to be just as close, and when you view 7 years in comparison to those who have been BFFs since birth, it doesn’t really sound like it’s anything of a feat. But personally, the fact that it made 7 years even as we lived in different regions and now different nations is nothing short of a miracle.

We didn’t even really get along at the beginning. We just knew that God was calling us into the friendship. And I think that’s the only reason it lasted this long: because we fought for it. We have had the most horrible of fights and conflicts, but we also knew we had to fight against falling out. We understood that we were called into the commitment of covenant friendship and that we have to be deliberate about it.

And I thank God for all the friendships I’ve gained through the years after that were just a deliberate and just as true.

Community isn’t just suddenly found. Community is fought for and forged. We can’t keep on having superficial conversations and polite formalities. I don’t know about you, but I’m tired of shallow “how are yous.” It may mean that no one gets hurt, but no one gets set free either.

Look, it’s very possible to be part of a group of friends and yet not really be intimate with each other. It’s actually rather common to find a routine that keeps everyone from getting to that point of being close because eventually, no one would want to break the status quo. Spending a lot of time together does not mean truly knowing each other.

This is why we have to dust off our fears and swallow our pride. It’s okay to be the first one to express the desire to want to go deeper. It’s better to be the one who tries.

And we have to open our eyes to the people around us who are also trying.

Paul exhorts us in Ephesians 4 to bear with one another in love and to make every effort to maintain the unity in the Spirit. He wouldn’t have said that if it was easy. It will get messy – I can guarantee that. Such is what happens when imperfect people come together. But iron sharpens iron and it is only through such that our edges can smoothen out.

We are all works in progress. We are all going from glory to glory. And we are all here because of Christ and for Christ. That is enough to bind us together and to keep us holding on to each other.

We remember that the Bible reinforces that we need to not give up on each other; that we have to keep on forgiving and keep on giving.

And we’re going to – even if others don’t.

Because the truth is, we all want to be fully known. We all want to be fully loved.

And beloved, it’s impossible to be fully loved if you are not fully known. In the same way, be wiling to fully love and fully know.

It doesn’t have to be with everyone you know. In fact, it shouldn’t be. This is a step done not just in faith, but also in wisdom. Ask the Lord who He has called you to, know the people you could walk with, and then build from there.

It may just be the first step, but it will be worth it.

“Now the full number of those who believed were of one heart and soul…”
-Acts 4:32

My Best Yes

I don’t really know what to say when people ask me where I’m at in my life right now so I simply answer,

“in between.”

But really, what does that even mean?

Earlier this year, God gave me a vision of being pulled out from where I was and being placed in a new land, accompanying the verse about Abraham. I received that word and said yes, completely. I told Him to hold my hand and pull me through, and I said He could push me if He had to. I asked Him to bring me out of my comfort zone and to make all things new.

You guys, this is the part where I say be careful what you ask for, because He really does answer prayers.

He did make all things new – in every way possible. In fact, He wiped the slate clean. Soon enough, I found myself smack-dab in a place where everything’s quite literally out of my control. Things I thought I always knew about my life and myself suddenly became unsure. Anything and everyone that somehow represented a form of my comfort zone, God asked me to release. To say that this season is nothing like I thought it would look like would be a huge understatement.

I quickly realized that I had to say no to say yes. I had to say no to certain relationships, certain opportunities, and certain wants in order to say yes to what God was asking of me.

So as much as I joyfully embraced the adventure at the beginning, soon enough I struggled with the realities of it. I had so much difficulty with where I was that I had to frequently remind myself Whose I was. And when I approached Him with questions, He told me straight up,

“You asked for it.”

Seriously, be careful what you pray for.

But it wasn’t until I went back to the province for a 2-day visit that I grasped the intricacies of my pain.

A couple of hours before my scheduled trip back to the city, I was hanging out with some of the students and volunteers. My dad walked up to me to say an early goodbye because he had to take care of some things and he wasn’t sure if he would see me before I left. The moment he did so, I started crying uncontrollably. None of them knew what to do, not even I. I was partly embarrassed because there were other people there, but I couldn’t stop myself. My dad took one look at me and knew.

“You don’t want to leave, ‘no? You don’t have to go. Just tell me if you want to stay. You can stay.”

The tears kept on coming, but I fell silent. I knew what I truly wanted.

“No. I have to go. I need to go.”

I wanted to stay, but I wanted God more.

I understood then the choice that I made three months before and decided that I wasn’t going to change my mind. I knew that even if I had to keep saying no to my plans, my timeline, my options, my comforts, I would choose this path all over again. I would say a million nos if that’s what it meant to give my full yes to Him.

It’s a trade-off, it always will be. The same way He traded the golden streets of heaven to die for me.

How can I not say yes to Him? How can I not choose to be faithful to Him, to what He has asked of me?

He is worth every shattered piece of my heart.
He is worth it all so He can tear me apart.

Even when it hurts, I choose to be faithful.
Even when it’s difficult, I choose to be faithful.
Even when I don’t understand, I choose to be faithful.
Even when it’s nothing like I planned, I choose to be faithful.

I can choose to be faithful because He is faithful.
I choose to be faithful because He is faithful.

I choose to be faithful, knowing He will prove Himself faithful.

I’m a natural planner, but now I have to let myself take it one day at a time. So each and every day, I go back to my original yes. I remind myself why I said yes in the first place. Then I say yes all over again.

And when I have difficulty with where I am, I remind myself Whose I am: I belong to a good Father and a great God who wants nothing but the best for me.

Yes, He is worth every shattered piece of my heart.
He is worth it all so He can tear me apart.
But let me not forget that He makes the broken beautiful.
Let me not forget that He loves me more.

I may not completely know where I’m at, but I know I’m where I’m supposed to be. I know I’m where God wants me. I know that He is molding me, shaping me, preparing me. And I’m pretty sure He’s in the process of writing one epic story.

We can be confident in this: that He who began a good work in us will bring it to completion (Philippians 1:6).

For as it is written:
what no eye has seen,
what no ear has heard,
and what no human mind has conceived,
the things God has prepared for those who love Him.
-1 Corinthians 2:9