In the last two years, God has been teaching me a new way of relating to people. Throughout my fifteen years of ministry I have attracted very broken people. In recent years I have attempted to invest in those who say they are committed to being whole – to walking it out with God. What I’ve sadly discovered is that many people want to be well but don’t want to do the work necessary to be well. Many people want someone to either fix them or give them the cliff-notes short-cut to wholeness; but there is none. I have been really stunned to discover over the last couple of years that many people aren’t honest about their true condition with others, with God or perhaps even within themselves. No broken person begins to be restored until they are willing to leave their brokenness behind – and become someone and something they don’t know how to be. They must trust God, the guidance of trained counselors, and the candor of living authentically and honestly within their present state, even as they strive towards something better. They must be willing to see their shame, their inability to fix that shame, and surrender their pride into their God’s keeping. God will never allow us to fix ourselves. But oh how we want to!
God has intentionally and methodically revealed and cut away relationships in my life where others depended on my counsel more than God’s, depended on my love more than God’s, or somehow wanted my approval more than they wanted God’s. I didn’t know this was the state of affairs until God pulled back the curtain and showed me, but once He did, I had to step out of His way. No one is allowed to have His place in someone else’s life without severe repercussions. God had to cut away some relationships and even though it was right and good for Him to do it, it hurt me deeply. It cost me something. I was left with a necessary void in my life. Something unhealthy had a significant place in my life but I had not seen it until God revealed it.
So: the enemy has had a hold on me through fear, subtle and undefined before now. I have been very afraid that I would get close to someone again and be entangled in an unhealthy relationship that I did not recognize as unhealthy. I want to extend grace; my friends don’t need to hear from God the way I do or be where I am in my walk. I only want authentic people, ones who are sincere and who sincerely love God more than they desire friendship with me. I want friends who know that I don’t have any answers – their God has all the answers. I want to be iron that sharpens iron and a place where we can be real while we are still in process. People have had a lot of expectations of me over the course of my life, some reasonable and others that were selfish and unreasonable. There are some who have wanted far more from me than I could give and I was left with the subtle message: I don’t have what it takes to be a good friend. That is a lie. I am not perfect and I lead a full life, but those who love me cannot resent the energy God asks me to give on behalf of His kingdom. Now I must listen well to be sure I’m not spending myself where He has not directed, but they cannot begrudge that I serve in the ways I serve.
Recently, I have more clearly understood that I am privileged to draw from some wonderful sources of life-giving love and nourishment. I had already called them “friends”, but I do not get to sit with them frequently. Yet our mutual affection, respect, understanding and shared-history allows me to experience a heightened sense of joy when I am with these people. The Spirit within them and the Spirit within me seems exponential and I am filled up after spending time with them. Yes, their love, their presence, is nourishing to me in a God-given way.
There are those who would say they love me but they have not pursued God as earnestly as they have pursued me, do not rely on His love for them more than they rely on my love for them, have not surrendered to His kingship in progressively revelatory areas of their life as much as they desire my approval and acceptance of who they are. I cannot give them what their soul truly starves for – it cries out for HIM. They will never be satisfied with me and I’m relieved to identify and name this dynamic. I cannot love them enough to make them well; but He can.
Within my own heart, God has placed a valve of some sort and for it I am extremely grateful. I cannot receive love – real, nourishing love – unless it has first been filtered through Him. He left a yawning cavern within me for years so that His love would be the only thing that could satisfy my ravenous heart completely and thoroughly; no other substitute would come close to satisfying me. And now I understand that the only people who are able to love me in a nourishing way are those whose hearts are yielded to Him, who are daily being more and more filled up with His life and love, and are then freed to share some of that love with me. The only love allowed to nourish my heart is His love – directly from Him, and then from Him through the God-filled hearts of His committed children. Hallelujah!! That frees me from fearing human love because even the human love I receive must be filtered through Him first. Now that’s shouting material!!