“And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” – Hebrews 10:24-25

Something was different this fall, I had decided to be myself.  Now, that didn’t happen all at once, but I slowly took some water out of the diluted version of myself.  Things changed this year.  I made great friends that love me so well, but that was only the beginning.  By the end of the school year I built true friendships with people who would be there for me, no matter what.  They not only accept me for exactly the person that I am, but they encourage me to be the best version of myself.

I have friends who confront me about my relationships.  They tell me that I deserve better, that he isn’t worthy, and that I need to be valued.

I have friends who don’t let me apologize for things that I shouldn’t.  They don’t let me apologize for who I am (because that’s nothing to apologize about) or for things that aren’t my fault.

I have friends who are so similar to me that I don’t need to explain myself.  They simply smile and reassure me that I’m not crazy.

I have friends that force me to do things.  They force me to go outside of my comfort zone and inadvertently are showing me that I can be “that girl.” That I can be a girl that stands out.

I have friends who don’t allow people to walk all over me.  They stand up for me when people say things they shouldn’t and they remind me that it’s okay to say no.

I have friends that continue to love me after sharing some of my most hidden insecurities.

I have friends who don’t judge me when I say I want to start a blog.  They tell me that it’s cool, help me edit it, and then constantly ask if I’ve written another.

I have friends who are affirming. They tell me I should do things like sing and dance more and somehow get me to actually do it (even though we all know I’m terrible).

I have the greatest, sweetest of friends.

Without even knowing it they are pushing me to be the best version of myself, because they have accepted the current version of me.  For that my dearest friends, I am forever grateful.  I know I cry a lot, but I am moved to tears when I think about how the Lord has blessed me.  Thank you for loving me, for pushing me, and for showing me Jesus daily.  I love you to the moon and back a few times…. ‘like actually’.

“I know I don’t know them, but I love them because they love you,” she said through tears on our 2 am drive.  My sister had come to visit.  She had gotten a glimpse of my everyday life and the people that have let me be joyful again.  It’s crazy for me to think that in a few short days she would be able to see that kind of love.  But I think that’s what the Lord has created us for.

I think that this kind of love is what the church was made for.  The Lord has given us the two most important commands, the first being to love God, the second to love others (Mark 12:30-31).  First and foremost we must love God.  Most people who claim to be believers have this part down, it’s a given.  I would even say that most people know that you’re supposed to love others.  But I think people forget, at least I forget, that loving others is a testament to how Christ loves us.  It’s terrifying to think that we have that kind of power, but it’s true.  People look at professing believers and expect more out of them; believers claim to follow the God of love, so if we can’t love well, people start to doubt His love.  Whether this is a flawed way of thinking or not is irrelevant (we live in a flawed world).  Our easiest mode of sharing the gospel is to love one another.

This summer I’ve been able to experience the church in it’s purist form. I was able to accept the truth of God’s love for me, which made it possible for me to open up to people and allow them to show me grace.  Once those barriers were broken I was able to experience the love of Christ’s church.  I was able to sit in my brokenness with fellow believers who encouraged me to seek the Lord and pick up the pieces.

I don’t know how the Lord will use the little church we’ve built, but I know he will.  I pray that people will notice a different and want to be part of the love we share.  I pray that we would be a catalyst for people to seek God’s love.  We’ve built a church and I pray the Lord will grow it.


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