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

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

10 Qualities of a Godly Friend

shutterstock_229205491 copy                                                                                                                           Friendships are one of the many beautiful gifts God has given us. Friends can bring us closer to God and have the capacity to change us, positively or negatively. Sometimes it is difficult to find good friends who will stay by your side. Personally, I have experienced friendship on the widest spectrum. I have had friends who have loved me unconditionally like Christ and I have had friends who have thrown away our friendship. Difficulties in friendships can be heartbreaking. I encourage you to be the kind of friend you would want to have. It is important as Christians to honor God through these relationships. Here are ten points to consider in your friendships. I encourage you to examine these points in your life to ensure that you are being a godly friend and that your friends have these essential qualities.

A good friend…

1.Is Encouraging

1 Thessalonians 5:11 commands, “Therefore encourage one another and build one another up.” That is the kind of friend Christ calls you to be! You should rejoice when your friend receives an award or recognition. You should encourage her to grow in her relationship with Christ. Being encouraging does not mean sugar coating everything, but remaining positive, even when the situation may seem bleak.

2. Is a Truth Speaker

A godly friend speaks truth into your life, even when it is difficult to hear. A true friend loves you and genuinely wants the best for you. They will tell you both the good and the bad. She will tell you when she feels that you are walking away from the Lord or if she feels that you have been walking closer with God. She will speak God’s Truth into your life daily.

3. Says Things in Love

This one goes hand-in-hand with the point above. If you feel that God is calling you to speak a tough truth into a friend’s life, you must say it in love. Gentleness is a fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22) and should be exercised throughout a Christian’s life. Speaking a hard truth in gentleness and kindness can strengthen a friendship rather than hurt it.

4. Prays for You

A true and godly friend prays with you and for you. We all go through difficult phases in life and a true friend recognizes the need for a prayerful community and asks how she can pray on your behalf. My close friends and I meet once a week to share our walk with the Lord and even share how we have struggled in our spiritual walk. Having that kind of support and accountability is essential. Sharing your prayers and struggles with your friends is liberating.

5. Is Thoughtful

A good friend thinks of others before herself (Philippians 2:3). She thinks about how she can serve others and encourage others in their walk with the Lord. She remembers birthdays and special days in her friends lives. She is intentional with her friendships and know their purpose is to honor God.

6. Is Secure in Her Identity

A good friend recognizes her immeasurable worth in Christ. She is secure in her identity as a daughter of the Most High. She also knows that is your identity as well. That’s why she doesn’t get jealous when you succeed, instead she is the one in the crowd cheering the loudest for you.

7. Is Loyal

A godly friend sticks by your side even when times are tough. She stands up for you when she needs to and always speaks positively of you. She knows that “out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks” (Luke 6:45) and she only uses her words to build you and others up.

8. Forgives

We have all fallen short of God’s grace and are going to make mistakes. It is crucial to be able to forgive a friend when she has wronged you. Colossians 3:13 commands, “Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.” I am so thankful to have had godly friends who have forgiven me when I have wronged them. God calls us to forgive. Don’t confuse this with justifying an abusive friendship. Although you must forgive them, you do not have to remain in a harmful relationship.

9. Is a Peacemaker

A good friend cultivates peace in her relationships. She doesn’t revel in drama or discord. She seeks peace and harmony. Matthew 5:9 states, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.” She doesn’t look to create unnecessary drama and is happiest when people feel included and loved.

10. Brings Out Your Best

Proverbs 27:17 says, “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.” Friendships are supposed to strengthen your walk with the Lord. A good friend helps you be the best version of yourself. It is also your responsibility as a godly friend to come along side your friends and encourage them.

Being a good friend can be difficult. The secret of being a good friend is to abide in Christ. Remember the purpose of friendship: to honor God. Be the kind of friend God wants you to be. Seek God with all your heart and He will give you the power to be a good friend. Love others the way that Christ loves you and you will become the best friend a girl could ask for.

Radically,

Rachel

10 Signs He Might Not Be the One for You

10 signs he might not be the one for you

We all know that guy. The guy who makes you compromise or be the person you never thought you would be. But for some inexplicable reason, you can’t shake him. The thought of living without him makes your throat constrict. You love him and you don’t understand why. Here are some signs that you may need to cut it off for good. It might be the hardest thing you will ever do in your life. But if these signs are present in your current relationship, it’s time to do some serious soul-searching.

10. He isolates you from your friends

This can be really subtle, but if he takes you away from your godly friends it could be a sign that he needs to go. This can range from him talking bad about your friends consistently, to getting overly jealous when you spend time with them, or to him suggesting you find new friends all together. You have to consider your friends too. If you have a solid group of Christian friends who love you and have your best interests at heart; and he wants to separate you from them, it’s a huge red flag.

9. He Doesn’t bring out your best

Relationships are supposed to bring out the best characteristics in you. Proverbs 27:17 states, “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.” That is how a dating relationship is supposed to be. You are both supposed to bring out the best characteristics in each other. If you find yourself losing your identity or deviating away from the Lord, be careful.

8. He belittles you

Little criticisms can add up. Be careful if a guy is constantly criticizing your appearance or making fun of the quirky way you do things. Oftentimes these jabs at your ego will be paired with a nice comment to conceal the true insult. If you begin feeling self-conscious or depressed about certain things about yourself you never felt before, be wary.

7. He hates your family

If a guy does not take an interest in your family, it’s time to let him go. We all have family baggage. It apart of being sinful humans. A relationship is supposed to empower you and help you through the difficult times. If he isn’t willing to put up with your family, even if they are difficult, he isn’t worth your time.

6. Your family hates him

This is a big one. If your family has negative feeling about a guy you are seeing, it’s probably for a good reason. Your family has your best interests at heart. If they absolutely hate your boyfriend, it is a red flag. They selflessly love you and have no ulterior motives, so if they’re getting a negative vibe from your boyfriend, it is probably for a good reason.

5. He makes you compromise

If you are doing things inside a relationship that you never thought you would do, it is time to reevaluate. If he is making you compromise your purity or your faith, he is not looking to honor God through your relationship. A dating relationship is supposed to reflect marriage, which is meant to reflect Christ and the church. Many people have asked me, “how far is too far?” My answer is always the same: if you’re asking that, then you’ve gone too far. Fight for Christ in your relationship. You should be seeking Him together, not worrying about how far you can toe-the-line before you make God mad. Ephesians 5:3 says, “But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people.” I wish someone would’ve told me that when I was 17. So if he is trying to pressure you to dishonor God, he needs to hit the road.

4. He doesn’t pursue you spiritually

This is a tough one. I know I want the man I marry to be intentional about his walk with God and to encourage me to walk closer with the Lord. The man you seriously consider for marriage needs to be asking you intentionally how your walk with the Lord is, what you are reading in your Bible study, or how he can pray for you. This is a rare gem to find, so if you have one of these men of God, hold on to him.

3. He isn’t serving others

God calls us as Christians to be lights to the world. It is our job as ambassadors for Christ to lead others to Him. If your man isn’t striving for a life to honor God through service, you need to consider where his heart is.

2. You grow farther away from God when you are with him

Often times, many women look for completion in men rather than in Christ. I cannot stress this more, if you expect a guy to fill Christ’s place, the relationship will end horribly. Men are sinful. They cannot ever fill the place that was intended for Christ. When you put that kind of pressure and expectation on a man, it is not good for either one of you.

1. He doesn’t love God

This is the most important one. If you find yourself in a relationship where he does not love God, leave now. If he doesn’t love God, he is incapable of loving you the way Christ loved the church. Do not be gullible and think that once you are engaged or married this will change. If you are in a dating relationship and you are not pursuing Christ together, this won’t magically change once he gets you a diamond. When you date, date with your eyes open. Be aware of his spiritual walk and see if he is a man after God’s own heart. Even if he professes to love God, see if his actions correlate with his words. See how he spends his free time and money. Does he use it to glorify God and pursue intimacy with the Lord?

Whenever you date, it’s crucial to have perspective. Keep the Lord as your number one. Don’t let any man take His place. No man is capable. Seek the Lord’s face and ask Him for wisdom whenever you are getting into a new relationship. Remember that you are a daughter of the Most High and don’t lose sight of your identity. Don’t settle for anyone who treats you less than that. Remember that you were fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 149:13) and that God loved you so much He gave his son to die for you.
This is not an easy thing to do. It’s not easy to end a relationship with someone you are in love with. But sometimes it has to be done, regardless of your feelings. You may need to put your emotions aside and make the Godly decision to end a bad relationship. Like I said earlier, it may be the hardest thing you will ever do and it may take you months or years to heal, but lean on God through the process. He promises to never leave you or forsake you.

-Rach