Friendship – Accountability or Criticism?

So, last week on my Tuesday Tea with Cryssie over on Facebook, I talked about how to be a good friend to somebody who has experienced pregnancy loss. Today, I thought I would write a blog on the importance of loving one another….flaws and all. Ephesians 4:32 teaches us to be kind one to another, tender-hearted, forgiving one another, as God has forgiven us.

Friendship is hard. Much like marriage, it requires a selfless heart. It is difficult to maintain a long healthy friendship if one or both parties are selfish. I have been both the selfish friend and the selfless friend. Today, I want to touch on some ways that we can all work on being selfless friends.

First and foremost, we have to accept the other person. We are all flawed human beings and we all have room for growth. It is unrealistic to think that anybody in this world is perfect. That’s selfish of us. There is a reason why God tells us that we are to only worship Him. When we put expectations of perfection on other people, they will fail us. When they fail us, we all walk away feeling brokenhearted and disappointed. On that note, one might confuse helping a friend with criticizing a friend. Let’s face it, friendship should also have an element of accountability. We want friends in our lives who will encourage us to walk right with the Lord, and who is not afraid to love our spiritual walk more than fear of upsetting us.

So, how do we know when a friend just needs total acceptance or needs encouragement (accountability) to grow? I would encourage you to first and foremost, pray. Prayer is a must in any relationship. Allowing God to step in and guide the relationship will allow your friendship to grow in love and in peace. My advice to this topic would be that criticism would be a judgement about somebody’s personality or character trait. Holding somebody accountable for something is when we speak up to a friend who is doing something that defiles the word of God or themselves. These things are two totally different things, yet often we think they are the same thing. For example, complaining about how somebody talks, or how they do their makeup is criticizing that person, but setting a friend down to talk with her about getting drunk and sleeping around with several guys is holding her accountable. It is telling her that you love her and that she is precious and reminding her of who God says she is. Now, if you were to make fun of her or talk badly behind her back for her decisions, then that changes over to criticism and gossip. You never want to gossip.

Bottom Line, love your friends for who they are. If they are going down a road that takes them away from Jesus, help steer her back to Him, but don’t judge. Just love where she is. God loves us all where we are, and we should extend that same type of love.

If you find that a friend doesn’t want to change and is dragging you down with her, then pray about it and seek God’s answer on what to do with that relationship. He might need you to love her from a distance for a season, but that doesn’t mean you get the green light to put her down or start talking badly.

Next week, we’ll talk about keeping in contact with our friends. Friendships and community weren’t designed for us to be absent in them, they were designed for us to love, edify and help one another. We can’t do those things if we are an absentee friend. I’m preaching to myself when I say that being busy is not an excuse, being busy is a crutch and is incredibly selfish. We make time for what matters…but we’ll talk more about that next week.


True Beauty is Scarred

“Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. 
Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.” 1 Peter 3:3-4
True beauty is when our hearts reflect who God is in us. Recently, God has been working in me specifically on the topic of beauty. He revealed to me that I have been chasing the wrong things for the wrong reasons. He revealed to me that deep down inside I felt ugly, too flawed to be loved, scarred, rejected and unworthy. I did not know this about myself. 
Today, I relinquished my Mrs. Oregon International title. Don’t get me wrong, I still believe that pageants can offer women an amazing opportunity and platform to spread the love of Jesus and elevate their works in a cause they believe in. However, just like anything else in life, you can only be truly successful at something (and help build the Kingdom) if your heart is in the right place. Mine has not been in the right place for many years when it comes to pageantry and beauty. You see, in the very core of who I have been, I realized that I was using pageants as a way to make myself feel beautiful, accepted and worthy. I was so wrong. The root of what I believed beauty to be was warped. Yes, I am a Godly woman going through this struggle and it hasn’t been fun. It’s been painful and messy at best. I was working hard to get rid of my broad shoulders before the pageant, but in reality I should have been proud of these broad shoulders of mine. I get these shoulders of mine from my grandmother and mother, who are both amazing women who have worked hard to raise beautiful families and who set aside EVERYTHING to be that mother for their families. Both of these women worked hard for the people they love and I am PROUD to have been passed down their broad shoulders. I love looking at my mom’s hands because they are beautiful and show years of work, she doesn’t know that, but I secretly have always adored my mom’s little hands because they worked so hard for my sister and I. Well, her beautiful hands are connected to her beautiful shoulders.  A week ago I couldn’t look at my broad shoulders and embrace them, but this morning I did. 
And do you see that scar on my stomach? That’s not a scar from a c-section, that’s a scar from a young and scared girl in her early 20’s, who had just had a ruptured cyst and lost a baby. I have been embarrassed of that scar all of my adult years because I was unmarried and pregnant when I got it. I struggled with that overwhelming sense of loss at a young age and I didn’t understand it. I was so young and felt so alone. Today, I am proud of this scar. It’s a scar from a battle of ruptured cysts that I have had my whole life. I have learned so much about life because of it. I have been both the scared, unmarried, 20-something-year-old experiencing pregnancy loss and the scared, married, 30-something-year-old experiencing pregnancy loss. 
Beauty is skin-deep and it radiates flaws that we carry. You see, our flaws are not mistakes, shameful or rejected. Our flaws are beautiful, spotless, and accepted by the One who took it all for us on the cross. Our flaws should be celebrated and embraced. I will never fit into what society calls beautiful, and that’s okay. I am my own beautiful. 
The past two years have been messy for me, but I’m so thankful to have a God who loves me in all of my mess, and for a husband who thinks I’m beautiful no matter what I’m wearing or if my eyebrows are crazy patches of hair!
I’m going to stop chasing what the world calls beautiful and start loving what’s already beautiful about me; my scars, my broad shoulders, my eye glasses for days, my messed up eyebrows that I can never fix right….. I’m chasing more of God and less of me. Then and only then could I ever participate in something like a beauty pageant. We can’t accept beauty until we know the true beauty we hold inside of ourselves!    
Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.” 2 Corinthians 4:16.