On and off, for the majority of my life, I would run to clinging to friendships. I didn't realize I was doing it until about seven years ago, when a close friend at the time called me out on my sin and how I was treating him. I didn't even realize how bad it was until a little before him confronting me. I just thought that we were close friends and should continue to stay close. So when I saw my friend hanging out with other people I began becoming jealous and my anger showed its ugly head. That evening at my uncles house with friends was when I was told to back off and that he didn't want to hang out like we had before. I know, this sounds like a breakup, but it wasn't. I was just glad to have as close a friend as he and I allowed my life to be drowned in his friendship. It actually brought me to tears.
After we backed away from each other, and after I had repented of my sins towards him, I thought everything was fine, that that's something I would never do again. Skip two years later and it's the same old song. Except this time, I caught it early. While I did attach myself to the friendship, I saw where my idolatry was leading, and he knew the Gospel in an even more mature way, so as to be a patient brother and friend. I ended up backing away though, as I felt that it was the best thing. By God's grace the first friendship, while not close as before, has been restored and we have been reconciled. The second friendship never ended and we're still cool. Well, another couple of years later and I did the same thing. Fought through it, and had felt better. It was tough though. I ended up seeking the Lord more intimately as a way to get away from it, but not simply because I needed more of him. Yet, God grew me and me and the person, while not talking as much anymore, are still cool.
I thought it was officially gone.....until two weeks ago. Another friend and I connected and I was glad to be able to point him to truth, be a listening ear, be open with him, be a friend, etc. I felt my feelings of attachment coming. I knew what could happen and I caught myself....kinda.....not really. I ended up attaching myself again. I allowed myself to feel affirmation by him needing someone to be available for advice and as a listening ear, while also knowing I could be chill and transparent with this brother. Yet, my heart went along with all of it and I felt those strings being pulled once again. Praise God for the Gospel though, as he helped me to catch it again. We discussed it and there has been so much grace given, and the friendship, while close, is no longer idolatrous, just appreciative and very much about the Lord. I couldn’t be more grateful.
It's funny, because I have great friends, people that I'm super close to and would do anything for, with no desire to attach myself to any of them. Yet, there are certain friends that I allow myself to get attached to. Either way, I allow myself to feel affirmed when I help them, or with them thinking something of me, as if my assisting them or what they think of me completes me. Again, weird, because I love serving people to God's glory, and yet there are certain friends who I serve to feel love and affirmation. I forget for a second that God is my everything, that he is my all in all, until the aftermath of devastation that develops because of my sinful habits. I thought it was gone but it still showed up.
Today's sermon at church was from John 5, when Jesus healed the paralytic at the pool. The paralytic kept trying to get healing from the pool, hoping to one day be rid of the paralysis. But he was looking for hope in the wrong place. Christ ended up healing him, saving him, and encouraging him to never sin again. The pool was never going to get him what he needed. It had to be in Jesus. Likewise, These friendships that I attach myself to will never fulfill me. They will never affirm me or give me the comfort that I desire. These friendships should simply be a blessing for me and point me back to the savior, Jesus Christ. However, in my foolishness I tried to take these friendships, and add them with Christ. My heart became deceived and I began running to those same foolish things I thought were buried with the last friendship.
But God is good! If there's one thing I understand better and better day by day, it's that God is super patient and loving with me, but even more in his patience and love, he uses these moments of suffering to turn me back to the originator.....him. Regardless if the suffering came on me from my own foolishness, because we live in a fallen world, or because I'm being persecuted for righteousness, it doesn't matter. As Psalm 37:4 says "Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desire of your heart." Even in suffering he's turning my desires to be more about desiring him and what he desires, which is the best I could ever ask for. In this situation he reminded me that he affirms me, completes me, and though my best for him is like filthy rags, he loves me in spite of me. I can serve, love, and give freely, because Christ gave himself freely. He had no attachments issues to fight through. He was simply loving us and being obedient to his father.
He's freed us from our greatest desires. Not that all our desires are evil, but his sacrifice on the cross has made it to where even the desires that we crave so deeply above him, the ones that condemned us, we've been saved from. He has made us new, and we need no longer go back to the old stuff. I can leave Egypt alone and enjoy the land of milk and honey where Christ dwells. And when I fall to foolishness, I can trust that he is still working in me and accepts me, foolishness and all. If you know him he accepts you the same. So Let's be encouraged to attach ourselves more to him. For in him we find life.
Have you ever dealt with similar things that I have? Feel free to share in the comments below.