I was pinned up against the wall of my friend’s secluded kitchen. Her boyfriend began to pinch my jaw and blow hot cigarette smoke into my nose. He aggressively rubbed my upper left thigh with an ice-cold beer bottle in his hand. I opened my tearful eyes and saw my two best friends standing at the end of the narrow hallway, bursting in laughter. I thought they would come to rescue me, but they enjoyed the view. Later that evening when I returned home I went straight to bed wishing I could sleep off this unwanted memory.
I never felt so ashamed; I never felt so unloved.
For weeks I kept this story to myself because I felt like if I told the entire story out loud then I would have to accept what happened and I couldn’t. I wanted to keep playing pretend with myself because for so long I ignored the awful feelings and categorized my pain as normal. My heart heavily desired to pray and to lean on God’s guidance, but I did not want to give up the control.
I believed I was capable of fixing my damaged heart but only God can heal our brokenness.
I grew up in a typical Christian family: my brother lead worship, I only wore itchy dresses to Sunday school, and summers were spent at Vacation Bible School. I was young; I had a beating little heart for God. Then I got older and my priorities began to shift rapidly. I put more focus on the cute boys at school, my cheerleading team, and when I could re-watch Twilight for third time that week (Team Edward!). I continued to go to church but the messages and sermons went in one ear and out the other. I was present, but not fully absorbing the gospel. I would say I believed in God, but after a while, it felt sterile. Once I developed my friend group I began to feel even more secluded in my faith, so I threw my shallow faith out the window, and there began my struggle with self-esteem.
I no longer found my identity in Christ; I found my identity in my friend’s validation. Placing your validation in others’ opinions of yourself is the enemy’s way of leading you to a never-ending cycle of rejection.
At that particular time of my life, I viewed friendships as my open door to salvation, but when you place your salvation in something that is not God, you are building a broken foundation for false idols. My deepest desire was to be accepted and it was clear to all of my friends; I was desperate for validation. I was bullied into believing that I was the unwanted friend in the group. Eventually, my view on forgiveness became tarnished and I was living in a pit of resentment towards myself. I wrestled with feelings of doubt, sadness, and regret for many months. I thought that these harsh feelings about myself would just disappear someday, but I had to get real with God and put Him first in my life for me to see the change in myself I longed for.
1 Corinthians 15:33 – Do not be misled: “Bad company corrupts good character.”
I lived my life as a passenger; I gave the control over to anyone or anything other than God. When you don’t surrender the control of your life over to God, you will go the opposite direction that He has planned for you. He will try to divert your attention with warnings and big red signs that say dead end, but yet you continue down this path that believing in your heart that you know the destination better than God who created it.
Jeremiah 29:11 – For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.
My heart had been so bruised by relationships and my past mistakes. All the emotions were finally catching up to me and I could not outrun them anymore. The enemy had me locked in shackles of regret, sadness, and confusion. But God freed me from all of my bondage.
One Saturday morning when I was rummaging through my dresser, I came across my Bible that I hadn’t touched for almost eight months. I had this surge of curiosity to read it. I opened it without having any intention to what chapter or verse my eyes would land on; the verse I landed on was Psalm 34:17.
Psalm 34:17 – The righteous cry out, and the LORD hears them; he delivers them from all their troubles.
Once reading this I felt as if God was inviting me to reach out and pray to Him. I told God every horrible feeling I was wrestling with, every sour memory that I could not release, every detail on how I deeply desired a change in who I was, and how my validation issues got the best of me. Ever since that prayer, I can boldly say that that prayer changed my life. On Sunday’s church became my priority and seeking His wisdom in daily devotions was now a piece in my new daily routine. Each day I spent with God I could feel myself becoming lighter, more joyful, and full of His peace. Before, I was living in such a routine of anxiety. But, with God in my life, I had no room in my heart for anxiety; I was full of His unchanging love!
When I began my walk with Christ I had a new perspective on my shoulders, the idea of creating new friendships still made me uneasy; I didn’t want to relive the heavy emotions I carried like that night in the kitchen. Being in another friendship with cloudy intentions was my underlying reason for being cautious. But I failed to realize that back then I was running toward the direction of false idols chasing things that would never quench my thirst. However, now I was walking the path of God, with Him as my backbone for I cannot be shaken.
Psalm 62: 5- 6 – Yes, my soul, find rest in God; my hope comes from him.
Truly he is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I WILL NOT BE SHAKEN.
When I was approaching my second semester of my freshman year I developed friendships with a few girls in my art class and we had many of the same interest, but the biggest thing we all had in common was our love for Christ. I was inspired daily by their encouragement to follow Christ and His plan. It was a breath of fresh air. Being surrounded by women in college who were fighting the good fight by my side felt comforting and empowering. The pressure to fit in was once my familiarity, but now, there was no pressure to be like the world, there was an overwhelming enthusiasm to be more like Jesus. When we invite God in as a centerpiece for our relationships His goodness and grace can create beautiful and healthy bonds that grow between His children. God does not ask you to live in isolation with your faith: He asks you to seek out genuine relationships that lead with love and bring others attention to Christ.
As the year continued on I grew in a deeper relationship with two of my close friends Kristi and Katie. One night in July we had our first bible study together. The night was full of prayer, discussing the goodness of God, and what He has done throughout our lives. During that night my heart felt full of gratitude and delight. God gave me the realization that this is what genuine, healthy, God honoring friendship is.
- God honoring friendship comes from a place of guidance not judgment.
- God honoring friendship is full of love and does not condemn.
- God honoring friendship influences you to follow Christ and not the selfish desires of the heart.
When I think of friendships I look to Jesus and what He did on the cross. What Jesus did was not only just an act of sacrifice; it was a fearless act of friendship. The greatest act of friendship ever known. Jesus was innocent yet He took your place because He views you as a dear friend. We should all aspire to be a friend like Jesus.
John 15:13 – Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.
Relationships look different when you allow God to be involved. The way I viewed friendships in no way depicted how God views friendship. I viewed friendship through a broken lens, but God became my remedy and He changed my perspective of the importance of fellowship. God desires for you to have a fellowship: fellowship illustrates the goal of the gospel. Friendship is a beautiful gift that sometimes we often take for granted. Relationships are a delicate thing, so we must handle them with grace.
Proverbs 17:17- A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for a time of adversity.
When you place your salvation in Christ you have the most fertile foundation to walk upon. Christ is the seed in which we must root ourselves in so He can grow through you. Learning to let go of the shame and anger that was deeply rooted in my past is gone. The fog has lifted and now I’m cloaked in His peace and grace. Christ heals all wounds when we choose to walk in obedience to Him. The guidance of God never runs out, He will always be there to sustain you.
Samantha is a twenty-two-year-old small town Michigan girl who loves to dream about the future. She recently just married her high school sweetheart of seven years, who is her absolute best friend. Other than writing, she does freelance graphic design, modeling, and selling makeup. She has never been a fan of routine, so she likes to dabble in a bit of everything: she believes it keeps life more exciting to be on your toes. She loves Jesus and would not be where she is today without His guidance in her life. Follow along with her on Instagram at @samanthaj.tucker