When God Calls You Friend - A Story of Relationships.
Exodus 25:8, "Let them make Me a sanctuary, that I may dwell among them."
This is one of my favorite Bible verses. While in the wilderness, the Lord spoke to Moses and asked for a tabernacle for the purpose of dwelling with His people.
God’s desire, these thousands of years later, has not changed. The Lord desires to dwell with us. He wants relationship. John 15:13 tells us that Christ’s love for us is so great, He laid down His life for His friends. We are friends of God. That thought is just too marvelous for us to comprehend. Let's talk a bit about relationships as they are a significant part of life's orchestra, and they must work together with our Chief Musician to produce a Symphony of Praise.
A Story of Friendship
I was in Kindergarten. Patrice and Cara were coming over after school for my first sleepover. I got my Barbie's ready, my special toys, the cozy blankets, and my little baby dolls with the white and orange plastic baby bottles. (of course, you remember those!) My Mom bought special snacks, and my dad was going to make pancakes for breakfast. It was a big event for this five-year-old little girl. Sometime around eight-o'clock, I went into my Mom's room and asked if I could play with my brother and sister instead. Patrice and Cara kicked me out of my own sleepover.
In Middle School, I got a phone call from a counselor from a "fat camp" (you can read my Health Journey HERE for a bit more explanation as to why this hit home). The counselor said they had received the pamphlet I filled out regarding attending the camp that summer. They had my name, phone number, and address. She said that she was looking forward to meeting me and helping me lose weight. She asked to speak to my parents to set up the deposit.
I told her I was confused. I didn't fill out any form for a "fat camp." The counselor was sure it was me as she had all of my information correct including my birthdate. When I insisted it wasn't me, it dawned on her. "I am so sorry, Erika, it seems as if someone you know is playing a trick on you." That Monday at school, "a friend" asked if I had gotten any interesting phone calls over the weekend.
In my adult years, two of my dear friends who volunteered for me at my theater performing in all of my shows (you can read more about that part of my life HERE) suddenly left. I was shocked, upset, and devastated. I didn't know what I had done; to this day I still don't know what I'd done to cause them to leave.
Three months after they left, on my birthday, they announced that they had started their own community theater down the block from mine, and tried their best to recruit anyone volunteering with me; including spreading lies, gossip, and abusing me on social media.
Have there been a few good friendships in my years? Yes, a small handful, and for those friendships I rejoice. College-friends, friends from my theater days in High School, and friends from our days of Little League and Summer Stock that have been a wonderful source of life for me.
The dearest friends I have ever had are my sister, my family, and of course my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
Marriage & Love
I didn’t have a lot of boyfriends. I can count on one hand how many romantic relationships I've had. I don't regret that. God kept me from much hurt and harm. If you are single and wondering why you don't have a special someone, know that the Lord is keeping and protecting you. I know so many people that have had relationship after relationship and are just left empty with a laundry list of hurt and sadness.
Rest in your singleness and know that God is with you and is the lover of your soul. I will be speaking more on this in the future as I lived a long season of being single.
But I digress . . .
I got married when I was twenty-seven and divorced ten years later. I don't talk about my divorce because the Lord hasn't released me to share that part of my life. And so, I am obedient. I can say that years after my divorce, my first husband and I are wonderful friends and we co-parent our son beautifully. God has restored what the cankerworm tried to take away, and even though we messed up; He redeemed our story and kept us.
I remarried in 2017, and Steven and I are learning what newlywed life looks like even when life isn't giving us roses and champagne.
Steven is my best friend and has been my source of strength. He is my crown and my heartbeat, and there aren't enough words of thanks to the Lord for bringing us together.
WHAT DOES THE BIBLE SAY?
Relationships aren't always easy, but as I said earlier, God designed us for them, and they are an integral part of our "life's orchestra." When our love-lives or friendships or families are failing, the entire symphony falls apart. I have not had a good track record with friendships, but I find comfort in knowing that I am not alone.
If you are struggling with finding life-giving friendships, you are in good company. Jesus didn't have many friends; only a small handful actually. One of His closest betrayed Him and sent Him to death - Judas. Another denied Him three times - Peter. And still one constantly doubted that He was who He said He was - Thomas. Jesus struggled with life-giving relationships as well, but He was always faithful. He went to the cross for you and me so that we could forever be one with Him; no longer separated from the relationship we can have with the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
Paul had some rough times with John Mark and Barnabas in the book of Acts, Abraham denied that Sarah was his wife . . . TWICE, Joseph's brothers sold him into slavery, David was betrayed by Saul and even wrote about his hurt in relationships in the Psalms (Psalm 41:9 for one), Cain killed his brother Abel, and the story goes on.
Hurt in relationships can be found throughout the Bible, but my Friends, this is NOT God's design. Man's sin gets in the way of God's perfection. We need to change this story.
My desire at A Symphony of Praise is to talk to you out of my experience and testimony with relationships. I want to give you the encouragement, tools, and resources you need to cultivate a lasting relationship in marriage, friendships, and families.
My story in regards to relationships may not sound encouraging, but oh my Friend, how God has restored. He has provided, and even when I was alone, I was never lonely because He is my friend, my Father, and the Lover of my soul. I long for Him to be all of that to you as well.
WITH ALL MY HEART
What about you? What do your relationships look like? Do you have thriving friendships or are you striving to find friends? Are you married or single and how’s that going for you? What lessons have you learned that could help someone in their story?