5 Ways to Avoid a Best Friend Break-Up

friendsPeople always thought we were twins. Dirty blonde hair, green eyes, and freckles dusted across the bridges of our noses: I don’t think any 10 year olds looked more alike. We did everything together. We were the closest two friends could possibly be. As we grew, we headed into adolescence. We spent late nights giggling over our new crushes, sharing secrets about our cliche first kisses, talking about our dreams, and our far-off passions we were going to pursue. We convinced boys we were twins and laughed at their naivety. We were inseparable: the two best friends. You couldn’t even think one of our names without the other name following involuntarily. Then something changed. A 12 year old friendship evaporated. We went different directions.

Many of us have gone through a similar scenario.

I firmly believe that God makes us go through certain circumstances for a reason. Everything happens for a purpose in the Christian walk. Even going through a best friend break up. Breaking up with a best friend is 100x harder than breaking up with a boyfriend. Ending a friendship is one of the most heart-wrenching, depressing, and confusing experiences someone can go through. I feel like there are a lot of us who have experienced this kind of anguish. That’s why whenever I make a new friend I am intentional and focus completely on loving her and being the kind of friend Christ calls me to be. Here are several ways to avoid a best friend break up.

1. Choose your friends wisely

Choose friends who love you, who want the best for you, and who don’t have ulterior motives. Examine a person’s character. Ask yourself this question: is this a person I would be ok becoming more like? We inevitably take on characteristics of the people we spend the most time with so it’s crucial to chose friends who make you better.

2. Be a good friend

Consider your friend’s feelings. Consider things from her perspective. How would you want to be treated? What can you do to serve her? How can you lift her up and encourage her every day? Once a week I find someway I can serve a friend. That can range from writing an encouraging text to surprising her with her favorite cookie or something little. It doesn’t have to be huge.

3. Be Present

Our generation is really bad about being mentally present. I am largely guilty of having my eyes glued to my iPhone. Whenever you are with your friend, just put your phone on silent. Focus on her and how you can encourage her. This will strengthen your friendship and lead to some really engaging and bonding conversations.

4. Ask Questions

A good rule to live by is that your primary motivation ought to be that you are interested, not interesting. You should ask questions to see how she is doing, to see how you can pray for her, and to see how you can support her. You ought to remember things happening in her life and ask her about them. You have to listen. Listen and remember. The more that you pour into a friendship, the more rewarding it will be.

5. Love her even when it’s hard

We all go through difficult phases in our lives. We all grow and mature. This is especially true from the ages 14-24. Sometimes we walk away from what once meant the most to us. As friends, we must love as Christ loved us, even if our friend is going through a hard time. This is a really tough one. Even when a friend has hurt or rejected us, we have to continue loving her throughout the pain.

Best friend breakups are heartbreaking. Protect your friendships and value them. Love your friends like Christ loves you: sacrificially and selflessly. If you’ve gone through a best-friend break-up, things may not ever be the same. Even after reconciliation, you may never be as close you once were and the inside jokes that you thought forged an unbreakable bond may not be enough. However, I urge you to use that heartbreaking experience to learn a valuable lesson: to loyally value and fiercely protect friendships.

Radically,

Rachel

Why Our Actions Matter

actions matterLast week I met up with a friend that I hadn’t seen in a long time and something she said really stuck with me. We were having a discussion about why it’s important to serve and her response was that what we do doesn’t matter, all that matters is what we think. I strongly disagree. What we do here on earth does matter. We can’t walk around with well-meaning intentions and expect it to make any difference if we fail to act on them. The Christian walk is about having faith rooted in Christ and a deep, passionate love for Him. The things we do are an extension of that love we have for our creator. Don’t mistake me: we are not saved by works, but by faith (Ephesians 2:8). Salvation is a free gift from God and we can do nothing to ever deserve that gift. However, our actions and our decisions do matter here on Earth and here is why.

1. Our Actions Mark Us as Believers

1 John 2:5-6 states, “But if anyone obeys His word, God’s love, is truly made complete in Him. This is how we know we are in Him: whoever claims to live in Him must walk as Jesus did.” Our goal as Christians to grow increasingly more and more Christlike. That is literally what I pray every morning: that God would strip away my selfish desires and that He would make me reflect His love and His goodness through my actions. We’re not perfect, we’re still sinful humans and we will mess up, but we ought to be striving towards Christ.

2. It Completes Our Faith

James 2:14 states, “What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him?” James goes on to answer his question by saying, “In the same way, faith by itself, if not accompanied by action, is dead” (James 2:17). Action is a natural reaction to the faith we have. It follows the faith. True faith naturally produces good deeds, it points to the Father. When someone is truly saved, it is inevitable that action is to ensue.

3. God Tells Us That Our Actions Matter

James 1:22 says, “Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.” Don’t just sit passively at Church and absorb information only to leave and live your life opposite of what God commands. Go out there and obey the word of God. Sometimes it is really hard to obey. Sometimes stealing something when no one is looking might seem harmless and save you some money, but obeying God is what is really important. Think about how much your character costs.

4. We are Fighting a Real Battle

At my church, The Austin Stone, we are going through the topic of spiritual warfare. Ephesians 6:11-12 states, “Put on the full armor or God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world […] put on the full armor of God.” Paul uses the metaphor of armor for a purpose: we are at war. The devil is described as “prowling around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8). We should have a sense of urgency in our walk with the Lord and we should be aware of how satan tries to deceive us. We need to remember that we may be the only Christian someone comes into contact in their entire life and it’s important to live our lives to honor and glorify the Lord through our actions. We need to show others through our interactions, our sacrificial love, and our testimonies the love of Christ that surpasses understanding.

What we do does matter. We cannot be saved by works alone, but rather our works are an extension of our faith. It is impossible to have true faith without seeing action. They complete each other! I encourage you to live your life radically and purposefully for him.

-Rachel

Let Go and Let God

shutterstock_250812124 for websiteLately I have been struggling with giving complete control over to the Lord. Mainly this issue has been coming up because I am having trouble trusting Him wholeheartedly. I still try to control things that should be held in His hands. I feel like we all wrestle with the issue of relinquishing control. America has always told us that “the future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams” (Eleanor Roosevelt). And while that is an admirable sentiment and it does ring with some truth, we need to remember that as Christians, our job on earth is to tell others about Christ and to be lights to the world. Our goal is not our self-glorification. We are only visitors here and our true home is in heaven. The Bible describes our time on earth as a “like a breath; [our] days are like a fleeting shadow” (Psalm 144:4). So how do we live our lives to honor and glorify God? How do we keep perspective when the world is pulling us in a different direction?

Go All In

This is a scary thing to do. My generation is especially terrified of commitment. We never want to label anything. Half the time we date we don’t even know whether we’re “official” because we don’t want to put labels on anything. We take pride in the fact that we don’t fit into stereotypes and we can’t generalize ourselves with a single word. But in the Christian walk, we need to commit 100%. 1 John 1:6-7 says,

“If we claim to have fellowship with Him yet walk in darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth. But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus purifies us from all sin.”

We have to go all in.

We can’t live our lives going to church on Sundays but living in debauchery Thursday night- Saturday night. The Christian walk is about having a love affair with the creator of the Universe. It’s an “all consuming fire” (Deuteronomy 4:24). He must pervade every aspect of our lives. You shouldn’t live your life with one foot in the world and one foot in the kingdom of God. You have to go all in.

What does going all in mean?

Going all in spiritually means making God your priority. It means waking up earlier than you normally would to pray, read your Bible, and center your heart around God. It means changing your habits so that they honor God. Philippians 4:8 says,

“Brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things.”

I’ve had to change many habits because of that verse. It means seeing ways that you can serve others around you to show them the love of Christ. You can serve others through your church, school, or another avenue. Throughout my sophomore year of college I tutored a little girl named Chloe every Wednesday and saw firsthand how Christ used my influence to help her realize her worth in Him.

 You are not alone

Jumping head first into your walk with God does not mean you are alone. It may seem like you are alone when you are trying to walk a different direction than all your friends. But God is with you. In fact, God gives you the strength to walk with Him. Furthermore, without His help, we would not be capable. John 15:4 says,

“Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.”

You must lean into God as you walk. You have to rely on Him to get anything done as a Christian. God promises to give you strength as you realize that in your weakness, His strength is perfected (2 Corinthians 12:9).

It is ok to be weak.

It is ok to be vulnerable.

That is how God wants us. He wants us to realize how much we need Him and how apart from Him we can do nothing. John Piper explains, “Prayer is the open admission that without Christ we can do nothing. And prayer is the turning away from ourselves to God in the confidence that he will provide the help we need.” We need to pray. We need to cry out to God. Having Christ in our heart means that we can approach God with boldness and confidence (Hebrews 4:16). Having Christ dwell in our hearts has instilled a power and strength within us that only comes from the Lord.

I encourage you to jump headfirst into your walk with the Lord. Relinquish control and power. Give it to the Lord. Allow Him to shape and mold your life into His perfect plan. See what He uses to create beauty and further His kingdom. Lean into His word and approach His throne with confidence through prayer and petition. Find ways to serve those around you and minister to them. Allow His spirit to shine through you and your interactions with those around you. We have been set free as daughters of the King and it’s time we started living like that.

Radically,
Rachel

Making Time for God

shutterstock_208020445 copyLately I have been ridiculously busy. So busy that I have been subsisting primarily off caffeine and protein bars. I’ve been running from commitment to commitment trying to fulfill all my responsibilities. Sometimes it’s difficult to find time to spend alone with the Lord. In a world where your attention is being pulled ten different directions, you may find yourself asking the question: why read the Bible? Why spend time reading a 2,000 year old book? Here are three reasons why reading the Bible is essential for the growing Christian.

Why Read the Bible?

1. Its Powerful

Spending time in God’s word is essential for a Christian to grow in her walk. Hebrews 4:12 explains, “For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.”
God’s word has to capacity to break down even the hardest heart. God can penetrate even the most rebellious spirit with His powerful word.

2. It makes you more Christ-like

2 Timothy 3:16 says, “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness.” Studying God’s word guides us as Christians. It is the roadmap that God has given us. Glean wisdom from the word of God and use it to examine your heart and your life. Use it to see how your life and your love for the Lord matches up.

3. God commands us to

As if the top two reasons are not enough to convince you to read the Bible, God tells us to read His word. Matthew 4:4 says, “But he answered, “It is written, “‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” The scripture is our spiritual food. We need it as Christians to survive. It’s necessary for our growth to treat God’s word as sustenance and to partake it in daily. Psalm 1:1-2 states, “Blessed is the one […] whose delight is in the law of the LORD, and who meditates on his law day and night.” As Christians, we need to study God’s word daily in order to grow.
Making time for the Lord can be difficult. Here are some tips that I’ve found useful with my crazy schedule and centering my life around the Lord. Sometimes we need to find time, even when it feels like we have no time to spare.

Find Time for God

The adage stands true: you make time for what you care about. If your boyfriend texted you, you would probably answer relatively fast because you care about him. You would make time to answer that text. The same goes for God. Wake up 30 minutes earlier than you normally would. Make coffee, sit at your dinner table, and take the time to center your heart around the Lord. Spend time in prayer, reading your devotional, and reading directly out of the Bible. I’ve been having my quiet time during my break at work. I bring my prayer journal, Bible, and book I’m reading (currently it’s The Mingling of Souls by Matt Chandler) and spend that hour with God. Plus it’s a great witnessing tool to read your Bible in public. I work on South Congress in Austin, so a girl reading her bible actually really stands out. I’ve gotten to share my faith with several people as a result. It is essential to make time for God.Your crazy busy schedule is not going to slow down, you just have to prioritize that God is #1.

Protect Your Time

I find myself surrounded with so many distractions. I have this compulsive need to check my phone every few minutes and right as I’m writing this my dog is barking at me wanting attention. I encourage you to protect your time with the Lord. Whenever I have my quiet time, I turn my phone on silent and flip it over so I can’t see it. I lock my door so no one can interrupt my time with the Lord. And I give Gizmo a treat so he will pipe down. It’s ok to be selfish with your time with God. It actually is essential to protect it. Don’t feel bad about not answering a text for 30 minutes because you were praying. It’s alright.

As Christians, we must have Christ as our priority. He needs to be number one in everything we do. That means that everything else: social commitments, sports, work, even school, falls beneath Him. He needs to rule in your heart as Lord. That means putting aside time to grow closer to Him and to allow Him to reveal more of Himself to you. Spending more time with The Lord is an investment worth making.

Radically,

Rachel