Wednesday, August 31, 2016

A safe friend

Several years ago, I was at a small group meeting when one of the young children had about all she could take. She probably missed her nap. It was getting late. There was too much excitement, all of which was a perfect recipe for a meltdown. The adults were very sympathetic, though. I don't remember who said it, but someone stated that wouldn't it be nice if we were allowed to have our own meltdowns when we get overwhelmed, frustrated, or exhausted? I'm sure I laughed that evening at the thought of indulging in a nice cathartic tantrum, but I knew better. As adults, we learn what is socially accepted and expected. We have an idea of  how "good" Christians are supposed to behave, so we keep the frustration hidden inside. But as hard as we try, sometimes the pressure gets too great, and it all comes spilling out.

If you remember the tale of the "Little Red Hen," the main character goes about asking for help from the various barnyard animals. They all refuse her for one reason or other, so her response is "Then I'll do it myself." That's great for a storybook chicken, but the feeling that it is all up to you isn't very comforting. It's also not very comforting when you get the idea that you shouldn't ask for or need help in the first place. Well I had a recent "Little Red Hen" moment. I was overwhelmed with a pile of work. I was stuck in traffic. I was tired and didn't know where I would find the wherewithal to "do it myself," but I couldn't see any other way out. It may not have been a full blown meltdown, but I vented my frustration. Initially, there was some relief, but that feeling was quickly replaced with shame. I should have known better. I should have done better. I shouldn't be feeling this way as a Christian. But here I was, and even though I knew the truth in my head, my emotions weren't lining up as quickly as I would like. Hence more shame.

Thankfully, God came to the rescue in the form of a friend - a friend who asked me how I was feeling and listened to me. She didn't berate me for not getting with the program already, but she gently corrected me. She told me directly that I was leaving God out of the equation as though my work and the traffic were outside of His control. She also reminded me that I didn't have to "do it myself" because God doesn't turn away our prayers when we come to Him in need.

In Unashamed, Heather Nelson writes:
For times such as this, when you are feeling your most vulnerable, it is important to have someone "safe" to confide in. Safe does not mean perfect (since none of us are that). A safe confidant is someone who has proven over time his or her commitment to you, someone you can trust to be both honest and gentle with you and who allows you to similarly speak into his or her life. Such friends give you space for your feelings and thoughts, and they share theirs with you, too.1

And this is exactly what my friend was to me in my time of need. It was humbling because she saw me warts and all in that moment, but those warts were no surprise. True and safe friends have no illusions because they have no illusions about themselves. They know and remind us of the gospel. They point us to the fact that we needed Jesus before we were saved, and we will never stop needing Him. They remind us of God's forgiveness, our acceptance in Christ, and the Holy Spirit's on-going work that is changing us from glory to glory. And this is why we need one another in the body of Christ. We weren't meant to "do it myself" or go it alone with no one to walk beside us.

So I'm thankful for my safe friend. I pray I would likewise be as true of a friend to her.

Put on then, as God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.  Col. 3:12-14

1. Unashamed: Healing Our Brokenness and Finding Freedom from Shame, Heather Davis Nelson, Crossway, 2016, pg. 46.


  1. Thank you for sharing this, Persis! What a perfect story of a safe friend meeting you with grace and truth in a shame moment. It's because of many such friends that I could write what I did in "Unashamed." Good connection!

    1. Hi Heather:

      I didn't realize how much I needed and appreciated my friend until I read your book. :) Lord willing, we will be reading "Unashamed" with a group of women in our church. So much good and practical application in it!

  2. Again and again this blog ministers to me! Thanks for sharing your real life struggle and God's provision in it! To have a Christian friend such as you described is indeed a gift from God.

    1. Hi Kelli:

      Thanks for your comment. I'm glad this blog has encouraged you. Yes, God is so good through the people He has placed in our lives.

  3. Again and again this blog ministers to me! Thanks for sharing your real life struggle and God's provision in it! To have a Christian friend such as you described is indeed a gift from God.