My time in tertiary has been characterized by ample newly formed interactions from places such as church, communes, and campus. It has no doubt been a fulfilling journey forming meaningful relationships with people that I, to a certain extent, share some similarities with. I’m usually a very outgoing, bubbly person, yet it took just one word or act from others to trigger feelings of inadequacy, thereby causing me to withdraw. In such circumstances I tend to just keep to myself (unhealthily) and not participate in the on-going conversations or activities. This has been my way of dealing with uncomfortable circumstances that belittle or make me feel inadequate. Unfortunately, even in our closest friendships there will be times when you feel belittled, undermined or misunderstood- and you are not exempt from doing the same to others. This all goes back to the fact that we are flawed human beings in constant need of God’s grace. If you believe that you’re such a good human being, incapable of hurting others but always being hurt, you need to make a thorough heart examination. Most people who believe that they’re incapable of hurting others are in fact the most vicious victims, spreading gossip about others and using manipulation tactics to be felt sorry for. Jesus said to those who called him good in Luke18:19, “No one is good- except God alone.”
Withdrawing from people causes you to keep a small interaction circle which becomes smaller each time you’re offended. Eventually what you’re left with, at best- a friend or two whom you place your whole life in, or at worst- having no friends at all. With the friend or two that one has, because of the fear of losing the friendship, good deeds of manipulation or emotional threats of control may be employed for the sustenance of the friendship. However, this is a carnal, unbiblical way of flourishing in friendships. I had to deal with this myself. I would get so attached to my friends, and expect us to do everything together, perhaps with the motive of trying to prove that my friendships can work. Whenever I felt them detaching from me I’d get extremely sad because of the fear of abandonment. As a result of this, I decided that in future I won’t get too close with people just to “save” myself from those kinds of experiences. I grew lonely though, whenever my friends weren’t there, I had to be alone. I couldn’t enjoy interactions with other people because of being on the lookout! When I realised how unhealthy this had become, I cried out to God about it. For a period of time He was purging me through this, revealed so much, and took me back to my childhood experiences. Once, just when I began school in grade one, I brought a cake with me to school since it was my birthday. At break, the teacher cut the cake in slices and told me to give to my friends.My birthday is right at the beginning of the year so we were all new kids, hadn't yet established "friendship". I had imagined a great day filled with laughter and play. I am not sure if I picked them myself or they all volunteered to eat the cake, what matters is that they took their cakes and left. I sat alone in the playground staring at the remaining piece of cake, feeling sad and alone, missing my parents since I was living with my grandmother. The picture that I had in mind of laughter and play was the total opposite in reality, one of loneliness and abandonment, and this is the picture that led the course of my life in my view of relationships. I grew up believing that people don’t genuinely love, they just want to take from you and this is reinforced every time when the adults you live with reinstate it. The Lord brought me to that incidence, and brought somebody along my path, Miss Karen from church, (It was my first time conversing with her) who told me to imagine Jesus being there with me in the playground. I had to heal from my disorganized attachment with people, knowing that Jesus is always there with me. It was comforting to learn that all along I hadn't been alone, Jesus was there. From that day on I experienced liberation from fear; fear from what people think or say about me and fear from having them leave eventually. I began to open up to my classmates, to those in the church, and to others I met along my path, knowing that any feelings of inadequacy or belittlement I experience can be dismissed because my soul is in no one's hands but Jesus'.
“If you violate the covenant of the Lord your God, which he commanded you, and go serve other gods and bow down to them, the Lord’s anger will burn against you, and you will quickly perish from the good land he has given you.”-Joshua23:16
When I read the above verse in the morning I was convicted because I realized that having a “god” or idol in my life doesn’t necessarily mean a statue that I built with my hands. My idol was my friendships with the one or two friends I chose to give my soul to. I esteemed them above everything else and my every moment prayers were for God to protect our friendship. One evening as I was about to pray I realised that instead of being consumed and immersed in Christ, I was consumed more in my friendship’s well-being. I prayed all the time that I be a good friend and our friendship should be forever, more than I prayed to be filled with Christ. My ideology of friendship was more important to me than my relationship with Christ. The more I prayed about it and the more I tried being a “good” friend, was the more belittled and inadequate I felt and the more the friendships ceased to flow accordingly. The Holy Spirit brought to my remembrance these words from Jesus in Luke 14;26, “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters- yes even his own life-he cannot be my disciple.” I cannot be a disciple of Christ if my friendships take pre-eminence over him. If all I do is serve and bow down to this god of friendship, then I will perish as a born again believer. No one should take priority in our lives and prayers but Jesus. I ceased from praying for my friendships and rather prayed that Jesus would immerse, sanctify, and fill me. When we are constantly worried about our relationships with people and how they would turn out to be, we are not living in the spirit. Wise is the person who lives in the Spirit at all times. God will take care of everything else if we make Him the centre of our lives- including our friendships.