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This is going to sound weird, but being super close to your best friends for years almost feels like a marriage. There are good days and bad days, things you say that make the other mad, disagreements and opposite opinions followed by tons of laughter and beautiful memories. I feel like I take something away from all of my friendships, and those little things are going to serve me well in the future. But mostly, I think about how different we all are. How we tend to debate to make our friends see our side, how we struggle to make them understand who we are and where we are coming from. Maybe that's just me. I feel like I sometimes struggle to be me, without having to worry about saying the perfect thing all the time or modifying my thoughts to fit someone else's mold. That can be hard. And Jesus knows I struggle with it all the time. I don't think about it in a way that's like, "I want to please everyone". It's more that I want to feel more freedom within myself to not feel weird when I don't share the same opinion as someone else. I don't have issues expressing myself. I do it so well that I get in trouble once in a while. ;) But I think that when it comes to differences and being close to some people who don't think the same way you do, it can get messy. It makes me feel apologetic and strange when it shouldn't, just because I don't view things the way they would and their reaction isn't always going to be supportive of what I think. I have to remind myself that I'm being me, and there is nothing wrong with that (short of truly offending someone or actually needing to apologize).
The truth is, I have a very extended group of friends. Some are casual friends that I really like. Some know me down to my bones and I can't do life without them. And some people I just don't get and they don't get me, and that's okay. But my "ride or die" friends are it. They know that my heart is good and even if I go off the rails sometimes, I still love Jesus and He still loves me. (Hallelujah for grace & forgiveness!) On the other side of that, I completely own up to taking my turn and doing the exact opposite of what I want to do:
"I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do."
- Romans 7:15
It's because I'm human. We all are. Thankfully, for those who believe, we have a Savior from whom we can receive forgiveness when we repent. But I do think that some Christians really forget that we are human beings who aren't flawless. Sometimes we curse, drink, judge others, etc. It's true: those things are not the best qualities. But they happen as a byproduct of being human, and that's life. (That's not to say that we should cast them off without a second thought and not work on our issues.) I often think of this quote from my favorite book, Big Stone Gap:
"There ain't no perfection in this world, only in the next."
I'll end with this story: I knew a girl once who believed with all her heart that literal perfection was attainable. That if you were a Christian, you were supposed to strive to be perfect and one day you could be. I still remember the conversations I had with her because they taught me two things: 1) Jesus did not come down to this earth to give us perfection; rather, He came to be strong for us in the face of our weaknesses. 2) It's okay to make mistakes and say the wrong things and, in general, screw up. That's what being human is. That's even what being a Christian human is. Yes, the scope of the Christian life looks a lot different than a non-believer's life. But it doesn't mean that we have to make ourselves crazy trying to be perfect or pretend to be. I'm okay with being who I am, even if I'm rough around the edges at times, even if people don't understand me. God understands me and meets me where I am. I'm learning to be good with that.