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

Men, You Are God’s Gift to Women.

I’m not talking about the guy who arrogantly flaunts and flirts and personally tags himself as God’s gift to women.

(Hi. If that’s you, I’m telling you straight up: you’re probably not, actually. Sorry).

I’m talking about you who care so much about Biblical manhood that you’d invest time and money into learning how you can better serve others by being the best you could be. I’m talking to you who wouldn’t subscribe to the stereotypical basis of what a man looks like and would rather break the standards by following His standard.

I’ve told you before how much we needed more men like you, but have I ever mentioned how much we appreciated you?

When you lead and not dictate,
When you are tested yet stay committed,
When you graciously listen and communicate,
When you have vision and take action,
When you pray and obey,
When you take responsibility and not make excuses,
When you rise up and take initiative,
When you give and don’t require,
When you respect and don’t expect,
When you are passionate and compassionate,
When you affirm and correct,
When you protect and pursue,
When you fight for the wronged,
When you forgive what is wrong,

When you refuse to be passive and jump right in,
When you step back and choose to be patient,
When you go out of your way,
When you show up,
When you don’t leave,

You are God’s gift to women.

When your heart is in the right place,
When your eyes are fixed on His face,
When you seek Him always,

You are God’s gift to women.

Please, never, ever stop making an effort. Never, ever stop stepping into all that He has for you. Never, ever stop fighting for the calling He has placed upon you.

Even when it’s difficult, even when it’s tiring, even when it takes so much of you: keep at it. Never, ever stop using the gifts He has given you. Never, ever stop being the gift He has called you to become.

For when you humbly admit that you aren’t there yet, but you want to be,
When you deliberately take steps, no matter how slowly,

You already are God’s gift to women.

Thank you for all that you are,
And thank you for all that you will be.

Dear Guy Friend: I Want Your Wife to Love Me 

Disclaimer: I want to make clear that not much has been said on the Bible about this and thus these are MY convictions and I won’t force them upon anyone else. I have nothing against people whose convictions are otherwise. But if somehow you can obtain wisdom out of it, then it would be my greatest honor and pleasure. No, I don’t ward guys off and I have a lot of close, healthy friendships with males in my life – men that I trust with every fiber of my being and have one-on-one friendly dates with. And in case of any intrigue, this is addressed to a general audience and I’m not writing to one specific person. I would also like to give a shoutout to my closest male friends, three of whom pre-approved this post. Couldn’t be more blessed to have you guys. ❤️

Dear Male Friend,

Before anything else, I would like to say that I am immensely blessed to have you in my life. Thank you for always being one phone call away when I need you – for being my bodyguard when unwanted guys go knocking at my door; for going out of your way to drive me home and make sure I’m safe; for being a shoulder to cry on when my heart gets broken; for being a confidant when my world comes shattering around me. Thank you for exhibiting what it means to be a true man of God and for walking out the kind of strength and bravery that matters.

Thank you for always protecting me, so allow me to protect you too.

You should know by now how affectionate I am, all the while knowing how firm I am when it comes to making sure no one falls beyond the line. You must wonder why I didn’t allow you to go to me when I was sick in my condo alone and you wanted to take care of me, or why I carefully drew up additional boundaries when I found out you liked me.

Do understand, I am thrilled to know I’m one of the closest friends you have and I’m one of the people you trust most. But when I encourage you to go to your male friends and leaders so that you could build deeper relationships with them, believe me when I say I’m doing what I believe would please God most.

See, I don’t want to be the first person you run to when you have a problem. I don’t want to be your main accountability partner. I don’t want you to think of me as your best friend or your closest friend.

I want all those to be your wife.

And until you meet her and build that kind of relationship with her, look for someone of the same gender whom you can trust, look up to, and share life with. Let him be your go-to person, not me. No, I’m not saying you stop opening up to me, please do. I love such conversations with you, and I appreciate you trusting me like that. Just don’t let me be your number one friend.

Also, on the very small chance that you think said future wife is me, just stop right there and hold your horses. Yes, it’s okay to pray for me and ask God for me. But until you full-out pursue me, don’t invest so much emotionally. I am in awe that you, knowing me fully and having seen me in my unguarded moments, would even consider me. So if you want to keep it in your heart, go ahead. Just don’t focus on it. Guard your heart, even if you do like me.

1 Timothy 5:1-2 speaks about how we should treat each other with absolute purity. I want to honor God with this friendship, and I want us to set an example on how people of opposite genders can be amazing, close friends and yet still not blur lines. Like C.S Lewis once wrote, friendship is standing side by side facing something in common, while lovers stand face to face to focus more on each other. Let’s journey this road looking towards God, not each other.

One day, you’ll get married. Probably to a girl that’s not me. And I don’t want us to keep reassuring her that our friendship doesn’t hold a candle to her and that it’s her who you absolutely, truly love. Rather than leaving any semblance of doubt in her about our relationship, I want her to see its purity and how much we protected each other from going too near the guardrails. Rather than driving her nuts and insecure, I want her to thank me for being her husband’s friend and for walking with him through his ups and downs as a sister.

I want your wife to love me and our friendship, too.

Similarly, I’ll get married (I hope). HAHAHAHAHA. And I’m sure somewhere out there, my future husband is building relationships with amazing, godly women who will walk with him in this life. I’ll owe a lot to these lovely women for really guiding him and loving him through his roller coasters; for standing with him even when the ground is shaking; for building him up in God – the same way I hope I’m doing with you now. And I’m just treating you the way I hope they’re treating him right now, too.

Now don’t worry, I am not robbing you of coffee-date privileges and I will still allow you to drive me when you’re worried about my safety and I will still seat shotgun even if we’re with a group. We need close, healthy men-women relationships to fully flourish. But do remember if ever I start to be careful, I’m doing it not only for me and my future husband, but also for you and your future wife.

So in honor of you, I will go a little poetic here. I am vastly honored that in this colossal, tragic world full of smashing cosmos and comets torn apart, the Lord allowed your universe to collide with mine. It is my greatest pleasure to grow with you, super sizing until we explode and shine like the stars God meant for us to be – making earth-shattering impact whenever we come together and leaving others in awe of how we reflect His oceanic, mountainous, planetary glory.

But dear friend, when she comes, the universe won’t just shudder.

The heavens will sing.

And I’ll be on the front row, belting off with the choir of angels.