Finding Friendship

After my last blog post, those of you who read it were probably left questioning my sanity. Today is another day, however, and and my emotional well being has improved. Part of my healing process has been learning to allow myself to feel. Admitting to and experiencing the highs and the lows has proven to be a slight challenge for me, but I am doing better at it! It feels good not to feel like a walking zombie all of the time!

Something beautiful happened to me this week and I wanted to share. But first, a little background.

Not to pat myself on the back at all, trust me I have many flaws, but I am a giver and a fixer by nature. Acts of service is my primary love language, so I tend to show my affection in the same way. It’s just my personality. Drives my husband crazy at times because he has other strengths and sometimes he feels like I commit to and give too much. He is probably right. But, however, right or wrong, this is my way of showing love, and also feeling loved.

As most everyone knows, and many of you can relate, when we left our UPC church nearly four years ago, we lost many people whom we considered friends. The system makes keeping relationships with those inside the church nearly impossible. I’m not saying it cannot ever be done. I have one dear friend left from my past life who’s friendship is still strong. However, it stung quite a bit when she recently said, talking about some topics is now “off limits”. So while we are still close, I would be a fool to consider our friendship unscathed.

There were very lonely times for me in the first two years out. I am a woman, I like to be able to text a friend when I find a cute pair of shoes on sale, or if have a bad day. Those types of relationships were nonexistent during that time. I discovered fairly quickly those whom I had considered close as family, were friends with me simply out of convenience. We were not friends because we had shared interests, or got along so well. We were in a friendship for the simple reasons, we attended the same church, we were at the same practices, rallies, and conventions. We were merely in the same places at the same time. Convenience. When it came right down to it, when we were forced to make any sort of effort, the relationship wasn’t deep enough to bother. From my point of view, I felt like I tried, but at some point, it is just too exhausting to carry on a one sided relationship and so I allowed them all to fizzle out. Looking back now, those relationships all seem very superficial and conditional.

Ouch.

Are there friendships that exist without these faux pas?

There are many factors that come into play when talking about this side of leaving a toxic church, I’m not going to go into all of them now, but long story short, I found myself lonely and friendless.

But, it does get better. We don’t stay in valleys forever! Working through many of my hurts and hangups has allowed my heart to heal enough to begin putting myself in vulnerable positions in order for friendships to flourish. I wrote a blog about this very thing in December of 2018, https://findingmyfreedomdoingmylife.wordpress.com/2018/12/11/love/

When I wrote this, nearly a year and a half ago, I was in the beginning stages of forming true relationships with people. It makes my heart happy to see the growth in myself!

Now about the something beautiful I was going to tell you about!

While video chatting (because that’s the new norm these days) with a couple of amazing women the other day, one of my sweet friends began opening up about how her family is going through some financial struggles during this time. The economy is a mess right now, I know many people are having similar issues. After having great prayer and a small boohooing session, we ended the chat with “I love you’s” all the way around. It was what my soul truly needed that day.

The next day, I was at the grocery store and my friend came to mind, I picked up a gift card and slipped it into her mailbox anonymously. I just wanted to bless her and her family with what I could.

The following day, we were all chatting once again, talking about the economy and the stimulus checks that were scheduled to be issued. I mentioned how I was waiting impatiently for mine because my unemployment benefits had yet to be paid out. Our checking account was running dangerously low.

It wasn’t two minutes later and the sweet friend whom I had given the gift card to messaged me that she had sent me some cash to carry us through until we got our check!

I looked in my account and it was the same amount as the gift card I had anonymously given to her! This amazing friend had unknowingly, passed her much needed blessing onto me without even any questioning or hesitation!

I was speechless and began bawling on the spot. I knew she needed the money, yet, she was willing to share her blessing with me, with zero terms or conditions! Who does that?!

Like I said before, act of service is my love language. Many times I think acts of service and gifts go hand in hand. It wasn’t so much that she gave me something, it’s that she gave without me asking and without expectations of me doing something for her in return!

Is this real life?

I have been chewing this over in my mind for the last few days. It’s not that this dear lady and I have a long standing friendship. We have only known each other for a couple of years, a drop in the bucket compared to many other people I know. But the quality of friendship far surpasses the quantity of years of the friendship.

Does this mean everyone I am friends with has to start giving me money? Clearly, not. I am not trying to sound superficial. But the thoughtfulness and selflessness of her act touched my soul in a deep way.

Philippians 2:3 says this:

Instead of being motivated by selfish ambition or vanity, each of you should, in humility, be moved to treat one another as more important than yourself

Her blessing to me far surpassed the monetary gift, it was the motivation behind it. There truly are genuine people in the world, and there is hope to have authentic, unconditional relationships.

My sweet friend proved that.

Life’s About To Get Good

This week has been a chaotic plethora of emotional highs and lows.

I won’t get into the details, but let’s just say, there was one day I had to bring a peace offering of food to my coworkers to make up for my crappy attitude. My mouth sometimes doesn’t have a mute button, although I am actively working on finding one.

I recognize biology plays a huge role in my mood swings. I know a lot of women can relate. But this last week I have been proactively working on a piece of me that hasn’t seen daylight in many, many years and the demons in my own soul, I feel, have tried to shut it down.

Feelings. The lows and the highs.

My therapist made a very valid observation a couple of weeks ago, and it stuck with me. As a way to cope with trauma, (personal and spiritual related) my brain has turned off my ability to feel.

As I am writing this, I am trying hard to come up with a way to explain what it feels like in my head, and it is hard to get out in coherent way.

Basically, I choose not to get excited, mainly about good things because of the fear of being let down. I don’t trust anyone (at all) because let’s face it, people let you down all the time and it hurts. I don’t want to feel the hurt, so I just don’t allow myself to feel love.

I explained it to my husband in this manner: every time I pull up to a stop light, I look around and envision the position and angle each car around me could potentially hit me. It’s like my brain is constantly in overdrive, plotting the worst way things could go south, just so it doesn’t take me by surprise if and when it does. I am always cautious to get excited about trips, because what if something unexpected comes up and I don’t get to go. I don’t get too attached to people, because what if they leave. You get the idea. It is exhausting. Not to mention, kind of depressing never to live in the moment and just be. I am over it.

I have described the feeling of oppression I had while in the UPC in my book and in my blog, and that was crushing. I felt suffocated and that is the one thing I did feel. Like someone was sitting on my chest at all times. Of course, I was happy when I got married, and when my children were born, but even in those moments I never allowed myself to really be present and feel the happiness all the way to my soul. For as far back as I can remember, I have always felt like a stranger looking out of my eyes. Like, watching the world go on around me, but trapped in my own head too much to be able to participate in it, but wanting to.

While we were on our cruise last month, we were watching people sing karaoke. A sweet elderly couple got up and danced to nearly every song, no matter how terrible the person singing sounded, no matter if they were the only couple on the dance floor, they didn’t care, they were enjoying themselves and each other’s company. I was enjoying watching them but also feeling a little envious of their ability to be in the moment and just be. I approached them afterward and asked them what their secret was, they looked so happy. She told me they had been married for 50 years and their secret was to enjoy each other’s company and just have fun together. While that is excellent marriage advice, I couldn’t wrap my head around how to do that. In my head, I am still a soul longing to break free from the chaos in my brain and live unfettered in the moment. I thought about dancing, or singing karaoke that night, but I simply could not break myself free and just live in that particular moment.

While I no longer feel the soul crushing oppression from living a life of legalism, I have not yet gained the ability to let go of the apprehension so deep seeded in myself and allow myself to trust and be free to just be me.

Yes, I feel like I have healed from most of my church past as far as how others treated me. Yes, I have come to depend on God’s grace to cover my flaws, and so many other things I have overcome in the last few years, but allowing myself to enjoy the feelings of happiness, true joy, and trust, those are things I am still searching for answers on how to feel them in the moment.

When all else fails, one should always look to a Shania Twain song for life wisdom and advice. That was sarcasm in case you couldn’t tell, but seriously, she released an album last year (the concert was awesome, but that’s another story) and the first single released from it spoke to me. I have been singing it practically non-stop the past week because the lyrics are my anthem at this stage in my healing process.

It took me so long to be strong
But I’m alive, and I hold on
To what I can feel, it hurts to heal
Oh, when love lies
Life’s about joy, life’s about pain
It’s all about forgiving and the will to walk away
I’m ready to be loved, and love the way I should
Life’s about, life’s about to get good

I have gotten stronger, I have forgiven, I have walked away from somethings, now, I am ready to love the way I should and feel love the way I should.

Life’s about to get good!

God’s Cloak of Righteousness

As I enjoy the holiday off of work with my family, sitting in my cushy recliner, wearing the most comfortable clothing in my closet I am in awe of God and his leading hand in my life.

In case you didn’t know already, I recently wrote a book! (That was a little bit of sarcasm because if you are reading this, you probably already knew that info!) I have been so encouraged by the countless messages from complete strangers about how the book has blessed them in some way. I knew there would be some backlash by those who don’t understand my point of view, and there has been, but that is okay! The number of positives in the last 17 days has definitely far outweighed the negatives!

In the 17 days since Free has been released, it has consistantly remained in the top 100 in it’s Amazon category, currently has numerous positive reviews, and sold well over 100 copies in just two weeks! I am in awe, and cannot wait to see where God is going to take this little book!

Obviously, in the whirlwind of releasing the book, my brain has been continuously flooded with emotions and thoughts. One, in particular, has stuck with me the last few days. It’s a story many of you know, I have known about it for years, but until this last week, I hadn’t given it much thought.

Adam and Eve.

When God gave them the directive to not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil of course, as humans, they did it anyway. There is much debate about whose fault it was, but it really doesn’t matter, the fact is, they disobeyed, causing God to have to implement a plan to redeem mankind from then on out.

After their sin, their eyes were opened to the fact they were naked and vulnerable. They made themselves loincloths of fig leaves in order to try and cover their nakedness. The Bible says, when God came looking for them however, even with their handmade loincloths, they still felt naked before God. Because there was sin involved, consequences had to take place, but as any loving father would do for his children, after handing out their punishment, God made them suitable cloaks of skins and wrapped them around his children for them to feel covered and loved.

The realization hit me, yet another example of God in his infinite grace and mercy, covering us with his love.

Nothing Adam and Eve could have done, worn, or said would have made them feel covered, only God can make us feel this way. Our righteousness is as filthy rags the Bible says, which sounds depressing, but is actually so wonderful when you let go of trying to do things in order to make God happy or love you even more and depend on Jesus completely for your righteousness!

We don’t have to impress God, Jesus did that for us on the cross! That is all we need! When we acknowledge the selfless act of sacrifice Jesus made for us for our covering we are complete in him! We are no longer naked and vulnerable, but clothed in His righteousness!

Others can have their fig leaves, I will take God’s cloaks of skin anyday!

In case you haven’t already, check out my book on Amazon!

Free: From Legalism to Grace Breaking Out of the United Pentecostal Church https://www.amazon.com/dp/1087259134/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_apa_i_vOvBDbT80WN5N

The Purpose of “Free”

Transparent blog post.

I wanted to write a blog about my new book, “Free: From Legalism to Grace Breaking out of the United Pentecostal Church”, but I am a terrible self promoter and wasn’t exactly sure how to go about it. What do I say after laying all of my crazy out there for everyone to see? What more could be said then what I already divulged in the book?

Then, I read one of the reviews posted on Amazon and it hit me. Yes, I am aware Rachel Hollis recommends to NEVER read your reviews! But, hey, curiosity gets the best of me some times!

I thought this reviewer made a good point. They said:

I loved how Jennifer was honest in her portrayal of her journey. It took guts to speak her truth, but through it she is relatable to those who have walked a similar journey. I suspect that most of her audience will be people who have left or are considering leaving similar churches, but I actually think it would be especially beneficial for those committed to those churches. I would hope it would help them to see what it feels like from our perspective instead of the “betrayal” they feel from us when we leave.

It is true, this book will mostly resonate with people who leave a religious organization, but it would be amazing if those who are in said organization would be willing to read it with an open mind.

Not for the reason of trying to persuade you to leave, especially if you are happy there, but for the sheer reason as for you to understand the other side. Think of it as research.

When I was fully immersed in the world of the United Pentecostal Church, I would be very defensive and feel personally betrayed by those who had left. So, I understand completely where these feelings come from. But, now, being on the receiving end of the behaviors and comments from those who are still “in church” my heartbeat is to educate on how this common reaction is scarring to those who are trying to build a new life for themselves.

I fully realize your position as “the church” to say those whom have left for any reason are bound for hell. I also realize it is taught profusely by your church to tell those people how you feel.

I describe this situation in my book like this:

“Imagine if you were to watch your best friend cliff dive off the side of the Grand Canyon without any ropes. That would be the feeling our friends would have toward us.”

Truth is, we already know. Those who have left, chances are, have already been indoctrinated with the church’s beliefs and have weighed out both the pros and cons of leaving. We already know you disapprove. Most people know before leaving how they will be viewed by their peers and made the move despite knowing what was going to happen to them.

Here is the bottom line, we don’t need your judgement. We don’t need your criticism, your passive aggressive Facebook posts, your straight up rude comments. We need your love and support and recognition that we are still your friend.

We already know your religious beliefs and have come to the conclusion those are not ours. And I recognize that is scary for those who remain, to think someone you loved at one point is going to hell for eternity, but do you not respect us enough to realize we have already weighed the balances and considered our options with much thought and prayer?

What about the condemning comments and terms thrown around such as “backslider” or “lost” make you feel like those are going to encourage any one to come back to your church? All words like that do is make the divide even greater.

Of course, the opposing side to my book has already made arguments saying I am bashing the church, or whatever they want to think I am doing, but the hardcore truth of the matter is, this is my story, and the story of so many others. When does it end?

As I have already said, it is never my intention to bash a church, and I don’t feel like that is ever portrayed in the book. (If one were to actually read it).

My purpose is to educate and encourage both sides. That’s it.

Love is a commonly misunderstood concept.

Many times people feel that if someone doesn’t agree with everything they do, especially when it comes to things such as politics or religion it is their duty as someone who loves you to set you straight. They feel, if they are still kind and supportive of you as a person, that will make it appear to you they agree with your stance on whatever subject they disagree with.

That is not the case at all. Like I already said, those on the other side already know how you feel. They don’t need you to constantly remind them of your differences. We already know you don’t support our decision. We aren’t asking for you to agree with it or even change your beliefs. We simply want respect and love.

I hope and pray those on both “sides” will read this book and come to the realization there are no sides! Everyone in the human race desires love and respect, and we should be able to deliver these attributes despite our differences.

I hope this clears up any confusion as to what this book’s purpose is. I would love to hear your feedback.

Happy reading friends!

Free: From Legalism to Grace Breaking Out of the United Pentecostal Church https://www.amazon.com/dp/1087259134/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_apa_i_0sxzDbB998CR7

Proverbs 31 Woman

I have been a bit absent from my blog the last few weeks. As many of you know, I am in the very beginning stages of writing a book, and that has consumed much of my scarce spare time. But yay! Finally doing it! I am so excited!

While in the process of writing, I have been doing some deep reflection and reminiscing of my life and the key people in it. I realized I have neglected to show my gratitude sufficiently for many people, but one person in particular never ceases to amaze me, and deserves recognition and admiration beyond anything they have ever received or I could even begin to give them.

My mom.

Her strength and grace throughout all of the 36 years I have known her are second to none. I have seen this woman pour out every last dollar, bit of energy, and drop of her heart to God and her family. She has had difficult roads to travel and her faith never wavered. I have seen people fail her, but she still managed to show them such love, I don’t know how she did it.

I have witnessed my mother pull us out of poverty with nothing. Her work ethic is unbelievable, and when she puts her heart to accomplish something, everyone better stand out of her way.

I have watched as people tried to tear her down, whisper behind her back, or talk about her family, and every time she responds in the most Christ like way humanly possible. It is awe inspiring.

As a child I was proud of my mom. Happy to wear the clothes she made me by hand, and learning from her as I sat outside her bedroom door listening to her pray for me.

Even now, as an adult, I am so proud of the changes she is making to better herself and the amazing example of new beginnings she is achieving right before my eyes. She has this incredible ability to thrive where she is planted and grow despite the circumstances.

She instilled in me a love for Jesus and a desire to serve others with compassion. Anything good in me, I learned from her.

Words cannot begin to do justice for the admiration I have for the best mom in the world. I am thankful everyday for this wonderful blessing I get to call mom.

Paradigm Shift

It occurred to me the other day something has shifted in my subconscious about life and being a better person. I no longer try to be better in order to measure up to a preset standard. I am trying to pursue being a better person because I desire to be one. The difference is subtle, but definitely there. Let me explain.

I know I have touched on this before, but coming out of a legalistic church environment, much focus was placed on the commandments and laws the church taught were Biblical. You follow these rules to the letter in order to make sure God is pleased with you and you measure up in order to be holy. When the ways of legalism are challenged to leadership in this environment, one of the arguments supporting their ideology is this: “What about the ten commandments? Do you just throw those out because they are Old Testament law? Of course not, so if they apply to you, everything else applies as well.” This is exhausting. But you live by this concept day after day. Trudging along trying to prove you are worthy enough for God to love you. Always checking things off a checklist and measuring yourself against others around you who are considered perfection and falling short every single time. The fear of hell and disappointing others holds you captive and demands you to continue keeping on in order to be a better person.

This is how I used to think self improvement was done. Thank God I was wrong!

The paradigm has shifted in my mind. And it wasn’t immediate, it has taken a while, but it is definitely there.

I read a verse this morning that brought this very topic to mind. Romans 13:9-10. It reads like this:

For the commandments, “You shall not commit adultery, You shall not murder, You shall not steal, You shall not covet,” and any other commandment, are summed up in this word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.

There it is. The subtle but massive heart change. When our hearts are full of genuine love for others, everything else lines up! Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. When we strive to sincerely love God and love all the humans he created, that in itself makes us better! How did I miss this for so long??

Instead of praying and striving to keep all the laws, I have been praying that God gives me a love for him and his creation. And the difference is life changing!

Of course loving your neighbor is challenging! Clearly no one sees exactly eye to eye on every topic, so sometimes putting aside our differences and biases can be hard. But the Bible doesn’t give us any room for excuses or prejudice. Love. That’s all it says.

Seeking after a genuine love for others has opened my eyes to areas in my life I need to work on. And instead of it being a chore that needs to be done in order to be perfect, it is something that I am finding is a challenge, but a doable one that brings me joy! I find I am happier, lighter and have a fresh view of the people around me. This perspective challenges me to change and to be the change around me. Of course I fall short of this every day, but instead of it being a burden I have to bear, it feels more like a life goal that I enjoy pursing.

We don’t have to worry about living the law to the letter when we have love in our hearts! When we love, everything else automatically falls into place. Ahhhhhh! What an amazing revelation!

Red and yellow, black and white?

Disclosure: this is going to be raw and a very sensitive subject. I feel like however I have to know. I pondered for days, weeks even about broaching this subject because it is a sore spot for so many people and my intention never is to offend, hurt, or make matters worse in any way. Please note that this comes from no place but innocence, and an inquiring mind to be better at love, kindness and gracefulness. I would absolutely love to have a meaningful discussion with anyone who would like to chip in with a kind, loving tone. This is going to be a long one, so here we go.

Racism.

I feel like I have been living under a rock for the first 30 plus years of my life. Let’s be honest, I am pasty white. I come from a long line of pasty white people, and grew up in an area where the majority of the people I was exposed to were, you guessed it, pasty white. I still reside in the same county, although I think it is beginning to become more racially diverse here in the suburbs. Despite the sea of white around me growing up, my parents still somehow managed to expose me to different ethnicities. My dad (discreetly) taught me the curse words he learned from his Hispanic friends growing up in California. We rocked out to Shirley Ceasar and Charles Johnson and the Revivers all the time at my house, and my parents never missed an opportunity to attend a service in a predominantly black church. We loved the worship there! That being said, I honestly feel like I don’t see color. Most of the time.

A few years ago something happened that started the ball rolling in my head. I was floored when someone who claimed to be Christian asked me what I would do if my daughter “brought home a black guy.” What?! I know my mouth was gaping open while they said that! I replied “well, the same thing I would do if she brought home a white guy or a green guy. Make sure he has a job and loves Jesus.” I had no idea people in this day and age, especially Christians would ever think such things!

But here’s the thing, coming from a white mom…It feels like a struggle at times to feel successful at teaching my kids to not see color. The reason? There is so much media attention brought to it. They see news stories and lets face it, most of them around here are about inner city crimes. The mug shots they show a lot of times are of people of a darker complexion than us. My kids notice this. Also, they witnessed the news coverage of the riots in Ferguson and now they are terrified to go near that city. Not only are these crimes displayed continually in the media, the media never ceases to make a point to say a white suspect or a black suspect. Again, just pointing out that maybe color had anything to do with whatever situation they may be talking about. It’s frustrating. And I feel like I am then forced to talk about the fact that they are black, or Hispanic or whatever, when in my head I keep thinking, why is this even a thing??? We are all human, we all live in the same country, we all desire the same basic things, why continue to stir up the racial tensions? Or maybe they aren’t stirring up anything and a point really does need to be made about skin tone?

Here’s where it becomes tricky for me.

Obviously, racism is real. And I apologize to anyone who has ever experienced it. It is wrong and unacceptable. But, how do we get past it? Like I said, I feel like I have been living under a rock my whole life, because I naively believed, at the very least in a church setting nobody cared about race. But since I experienced a spiritual awakening a couple years ago, I have been enlightened to the fact that it does exist and is overwhelmingly apparent. Have I experienced it? Not personally, and I hope to God I have never unknowingly added to the problem, but with so very many people speaking out about it, there has to be something to it. Everyone is entitled to their own feelings and has a right to share their experiences. Going on the defense by saying it is in their heads or they are just too sensitive is wrong. But by continually bringing it up, are we adding fuel to the fire?

Obviously, I cannot control the media any more than I can control what my neighbors or fellow Christians say or think. But by bringing up race positively or negatively so often are we just stirring the pot? In my head I think if we just live and love the people around us, isn’t that enough to initiate change? When I am constantly reminded of someone’s color, I tend to see it. When I am just talking to a friend, that is all I see, a friend.

So, coming from me, a pasty white suburban soccer mom, what is the correct emphasis? Clearly, what we are currently doing in America isn’t working. It seems like such a fine line. I realize heritage and nationality are important to some, and they want to acknowledge it, so discussion is a good thing. But then again, the more discussion, the more people tend to see color. It seems like that would just stir up more racism. See my dilemma? I am terrified to accidentally offend someone by in ignorance saying something that I would think nothing about, but is hurtful to them. But I would also hope, that if I ever have or ever do say something that may be offensive, that person wouldn’t hold it against me, realizing I have different life experiences than they do. Just as any comment made in innocence.

In the end, I just want to raise my children to be good people. Tolerant of all humans no matter race, gender, or sexual identity. The Bible says in Roman’s 10:12,13, For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him. For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

In God’s eyes we are all the same. Why can’t we all view others through God’s eyes?

I sincerely hope this blog is not offensive in anyway. I have been thinking over this for a long time, and I want to be sensitive to others values, beliefs and opinions and grow as a person. But, I also am extremely interested in this topic, as it obviously is vital for growth not only in our churches but in our country. The chasm seems so wide at times, when in reality, there shouldn’t be a divide at all.

What is the best solution?

Red and yellow, black and white, everyone really is precious in His sight.

Love.

I have been in serious reflection mode the past few weeks. It is Christmas time after all, and a lot of emphasis of the people around me has been on the topic of “love”. Which I am completely okay with! If everyone truly loved their neighbor as themself how could hate survive?

Now, I have by no means mastered this concept. In fact, in all reality, I am still steamy over an argument I had with a neighbor about a parking space a few weeks ago! Instead of driving by her house and saying a blessing, other choice words tend to come to the top of my head. I am working on it.

I have discovered during my self reflection, the concept of love goes two ways. Of course, there is the phrase “it takes two to tango”, but think about that for a moment. Without someone being on the receiving end of your love, there would be no purpose of love to begin with. This is my hang up.

I have to think Jesus knew this would be a problem for some when he set the example of washing his disciples’ feet. How awkward must it have been for them to let their Messiah touch their nasty, dusty feet. But Jesus loved them and was demonstrating the very ideology of a servant king.

I think a lot of us have the serving and loving part ingrained in us. Which, as I said, is super important! However, how hard it is to be the one on the receiving end of someone’s kind gesture of love!

I have struggled deeply with letting go and allowing myself to open up and be vulnerable to people. I have been hurt so severely in my lifetime by friends and family alike, that trust is nearly emotionally impossible for me. How easy it is for me to be on the giving end of the love where if I expect nothing in return, there is zero chance of getting hurt. But oh man, flip the table and it sends me running! I have no problem giving until there is nothing left to be given to others. But to have the same dished out to me by someone else and it feels like my heart is exposed and I am just waiting for them to trample on it.

Recently, we have been undergoing a rather high priority home improvement project. My husband and I are not by any means handy people. Yet, this project has to get done. I was explaining to some friends what we were doing and they volunteered to assist us right away. Immediately, alarm bells went off in my head and I quickly dismissed the idea. But after I left, I gave it some thought. The idea of opening up and admitting the fact I needed help was hard enough. Anyone who knows me knows how OCD I am about everything, and I would just rather do things myself most of the time, but this project is a little out of my pay grade. But the thing that was my biggest hang up was opening up to accept friendship from these people, who let’s be honest, in the whole scheme of things, I have only known for a short time. How do I know they have my best interest at heart? How do I know that if I allow myself to get close to them, the second the friendship gets hard they won’t bail on me? How do I know that if we start to become the kind of friends who sends their husbands to rescue my home project they won’t hold it over my head, or skip town the second I can’t repay them for their kindness?

Truth is, I don’t. I don’t have any idea where the next chapter will go with any one! But I do know one thing, living with a guarded heart gets lonely sometimes, and I refuse to live my life void of friendships.

So, my friends are coming to the plate to bail me out, and I am going to try my hardest to be a gracious receiver of their gesture love. As silly as this sounds, it will be a challenge for me.

But I am thankful for love, both the kind that is given and the kind that receives the gift. And I am grateful for the opportunity to open my heart and take a chance on friendship.