This past Sunday during class, my friends and I discussed community and its place in the church, specifically with our generation. We talked about how our relationship with Jesus is personal and that we bring that relationship to our community of friends so that we can together continuously strive towards godliness. The dynamics of my friend group are varied and that aspect is one of the reasons I believe I have benefited so much from it. We have a married couple, engaged couple(s), and singles; yet our relationship status is not what defines our group. Rather, it’s the experiences and lessons that God has placed in each one of our lives that in turn helps bring fresh perspective as we grow together.
I recently read that people in healthy relationships, whether romantic or platonic, are forced to confront their flaws and to focus on growing and bettering themselves, as opposed to singles who in general are either not made aware of areas needing improvement or don’t feel the need to change. I have been blessed with a group of friends who are constantly pushing me to do the hard things for Jesus. When I say the hard things, I mean that they challenge me to fight my flesh, die to myself daily, and ask the tough questions that make me evaluate my true motives and desires. My friends do this out of love and Christian spirit, and when my sin is revealed they come alongside me and help me fight the good fight.
As girls we know those times when your friend says,”Oh I just can’t stand ‘so-and-so’, you won’t believe how she hurt me!” and our automatic response is, “Girl, I will fight them…wait, who is that again?” We are so ready to help our friends fight their battles and challenge anyone or anything that hurts someone we love, even if we’re not sure why we’re fighting in the first place. The fact is, you hurt my friend, you’ll have me to deal with. So why is it that when we are struggling with sin or pain, we keep it hidden, away from those battle-ready friends. Satan uses shame, silence, and the shadows to keep us in sin. He encourages us to keep our struggles hidden, convincing us that we’re the only ones going through that sin, no one could understand our hurt, and that our friends won’t love us anymore. That is a LIE!!! Everyone knows that when you’re fighting someone (or something) bigger than you, you call for backup! Where are my wing women?! Where are those battle ready babes who can help me tackle this?! You don’t have to fight alone against your sin and struggle- you have people who will help you kill it.
Authenticity breeds accountability. When you confess and open up to the godly people in your life, and even to Jesus, you’ve now invited people to come fight with you. People who are going to stand by your side and march with you all the way from the battlefield to the victory party afterwards. Encouragement, vulnerability, tough love, and just plain honest truth enters your life when you have the courage to be authentic.
Now, I do want to emphasize that being fearlessly authentic is not just about confessing your sins and opening up about your struggles. I believe that authenticity is like a good marinade- it soaks up and fills every corner, every divot, every ounce of your life and affects your whole person. Nevertheless, if we can be authentic with how Satan is tempting us to stray from focusing on how God is moving in our lives and fulfilling His purpose, and have the courage to confess our sins despite our fear of rejection and failure, then I believe that authenticity will occur in other areas of our life.
With vulnerability comes strength, and with strength comes courage, and with courage comes living fearlessly authentic surrounded by awesome accountability advocates on your behalf. Don’t march into battle without your wing women. Don’t hide in silence and shame about your sin. Bring to light your pain and invite others in to encourage and to challenge you to change in a way that helps your faith grow deeper. Don’t be captive to Satan anymore.
“Shake yourself from the dust and arise…throw off the chains, O captive daughter of Zion.” Isaiah 52:2