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This post is for the gal who's struggling with her relationships.

It can be so hard to know how to navigate friendships these days. As Christians, things may seem like they should be black and white, but often they aren't. What one person feels convicted about, another has freedom in. As people grow in their relationship with God and are sanctified, there will be sins they haven't worked out yet. The thing is, if you un-friend everyone who doesn't meet Christ's standard of perfection, you're going to live a very lonely life. The people who are close to you won't really be that close because they'll know they must keep parts of themselves hidden from you.

Spiritual maturity says to those close to you, "I'm not perfect. Here's what I'm struggling with today." It invites others to do the same. Sometimes, just speaking your sin out loud breaks the hold it has over you. 1 John 1:7 says when we walk in the light (confessing our sins), we have fellowship with one another, and are cleansed from our sins. When we open up to others about our struggles, it allows relationships to deepen and friends to truly know one another. If you're not known, you're not actually loved because the person people think they love doesn't exist.

Several years ago, I decided that it was important to have friends who truly knew me. If they couldn't love me for me, they didn't really love ME anyway. I began to offer absolute love and acceptance to them too. Sometimes that means I overlook a grouchy new mother's angry words, understanding she's out of sorts. Sometimes that means I give whatever compliment comes to my mind, regardless of how strange it may sound. Sometimes it means I hang my head in sadness because I forgot an appointment or showed up late, asking them to love me and my ADHD brain anyway. Sometimes it means I look beyond a sin to the heart of the matter and offer compassion instead of judgement.

Are there times when I have to let go of a friendship because it's entirely one-sided, or because we've both changed so much that we aren't able to understand one another at all any longer? Unfortunately, yes. But that's not what I'm writing about today. This message is about fear that tries to take us over when we discover a friend isn't living up to the standards of our joint faith in Christ. We may feel like we have to show our disapproval by pulling back from the friendship. Are we allowed to hang out with "sinners"?

Choose love. Share yourself, your real self. Then, when needed, you've earned the right to speak about less perfect areas of their lives.

In the past, I've reserved parts of who I am and what I think for those who know me best. God has recently convicted me to publicly share words He's given that are uncomfortable. You may be put off because you didn't realize how I believed, or you thought I believed the same way as you. I thought I was obeying a biblical command to, as much as it depends upon you, live at peace with everyone. But if we look at the model Jesus gave us, we cannot continue to believe that we are never to cause offense in the name of Christ. The very nature of Christianity is an offense!

Please pray for me. This one is extremely challenging, as I greatly prefer to fly under the radar on some issues. There's no point in living a Christian life, though, if we aren't willing to follow where God leads. Not everyone is led to share so publicly like I am. Regardless of whether you're led to share your beliefs publicly, I invite you to join me. Face your own approval addiction, if you have it, and commit to total obedience to God alone. His approval is the only one we need.

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