Appearance & Reality
Niccolo Machiavelli said that ‘everyone sees what you appear to be, few experience what you really are’. He is right because people can only see the ‘you’ they have resolved to see and they will only love you to the extent that their heart allows them to. Whereas others will experience who you really are and will be blessed as a result of it. I will even dare take it one step further by saying that few ever experience what you become. This is because, if we carried the same people with us from the beginning of our lives until the end, we would never have the chance to grow or be blessed through relationships with other people. Rather we have to pay our friendship forward, bless one person which something they can bless another with and so on and so forth. They say you never need more close friends than you can count on one hand, it’ll be interesting to see who will still be there in the years to come.
When a good thing comes to an end
I’ve recently been stirred into season of shedding. Shedding ke, am I a snake? No, but walk with me. The skin of a snake is different from the skin of a mammal (including us) in that it does not grow as the snake grows. As humans, when we grow our skin stretches and grows with us but this is not the same for a snake. As tubular creatures they have a limited capacity for enlargement and therefore need to shed the outer layer of their skin to replenish and grow. Once the old skin is shed, the snake can start afresh and keep growing. Made the connection? Like a snake sheds its old skin, I too have to shed friends that like dead, dry, old skin are stopping me from breathing the fullness of God’s great air, from receiving the fullness of the Son and experiencing the glorious winds of the Holy Spirit. Shedding is not a bad thing and is actually a part of the process of life, just ask a snake.
Learn to let go
Now shedding is conceptually fine but what happens when you need to birth that into existence. Knowing that you need to let people go and then doing it, is a different struggle all together. There are some friends that this is much easier said than done with and others that we find it harder to shed. But it’s all a part of life; moving on.
We all have people in our lives that at some point we’ve thought will be our bridesmaids, best friends, Godmothers to our children etc and then the friendship doesn’t exist a few years later. Let me tell you now, over the last 5 years especially, I’ve had people in my life that I thought at one point I’d be friends with forever. Yes, I can still be quite naïve lo! I thought that our children would play together, then I woke up and realised I wouldn’t wish such a thing on my children. The friend you see today will not always be the same friend you’ll have in the months or years to come. Some people will take longer to show you the full extent of their character at which point you are well within your right to alter the cause of that friendship. 2012 was the greatest year of my life to date for a variety of reason but also because God used it to show me elements of people’s character that were not conductive to long-term friendship unless addressed. I was then faced with a variety of options and acted accordingly. There were some friendship I left to whittle away and die a far more favourable death than if I was to have the final say, others I had to confront and notify the other person about how their actions had hurt me. There were others that I absorbed the pain and rightly or wrongly shouldered on with but ironically, those are some of the friendship, that I’ve caught the revelation that I have to call time on. This doesn’t have to be a dramatic Craig David-esque I’m walking away, green screen, china bumps, chequered jumper, duffle coat and autumn leave type affair. Nor does it have to be a Jasmine Sullivan bust the windows out your car exit either – but you at some point you will need to stop kidding yourself, face the truth of the matter, pick yourself up and leave the friendship. If God’s not in it, you shouldn’t be either.
It’s so crucial to pray for your friendship and to ask God to show you when a friend is no longer meant to be your friend or when someone is. They may have to be downgraded to acquaintance or regulated to the land of somebody you used to know. Likewise, it is equally important that when acting, you ask God for the reason why your friendship needs to change because that’s where the lesson is. There are some friends that have abandoned their role in your life as a destiny helper and have now become passive in their post or worst of all destiny killers. This will probably sound a bit dramatic or cut throat to those who do not have the spiritual maturity to realise that friendships are no joke. When you start to understand that all relationships are spiritual transactions (because we are all spiritual beings), then you start to realise that you need to be protective of what & who you allow to enter you spiritual sphere of influence!!
Destination Purpose – isn’t this your stop?
It’s taken me such a long time to catch the revelation that not all movement is necessary movement when it comes to friendship. Using myself as an example, all of my close friends are people that are up & doing, even my Christian friends go to church and for the large part, try to live God-fearing lives and are on a forward facing path with Christ. But a last week I caught the revelation that not all movement is necessary if the destination isn’t conductive to pushing or stretching you spiritually. I started to assess some friendships and started realising that whilst we were both moving, we were moving in very different directions. This is not a bad thing; it just means that whilst I’m headed North, you’re headed South. I’m now stuck as I have some friendships whereby I’m on the train headed to my purpose and it time for some passengers to get off the train. It’s been real, but you’ve gone as far as we both can manage. This is the sad part, but having prayed and sought God about something like this, we insult Him by ignoring His counsel and coming back to Him later when it’ all gone wrong. We must always endeavour to honour the counsel of the Lord. It’s a tough thing to have to start to work out but I also know it’s necessary. I’ll may let you know how I get on!
I’ve really learnt the hard way, that there are some people that you may still be good friends with but you have to shed for they cannot come into your promised land. This is more than a Shaq, ‘you weren’t with me when I was shooting in the gym’ tip, but the blunt fact that they cannot enter into your spiritual inheritance. They have not been called to serve in the same realm as you, nor have they been called to go with you on the next leg of the journey. This is fine and something we have to be ready for as mature Christians. The motto I abide by in life is this it’s not every friend for every season. This is not to snub the other person, but rather to acknowledge that you’re both growing in opposite/different directions. The season of helping to grow a person has come to an end, the process of one sided friendship is now over and even the season of mutually beneficial friendship may be over. Both parties have exhausted their roles in the life of the other person and it’s time to move on. A good spiritually inclined friend will also be able to discern tis and make things easier by also letting go.
Hold up, you’re going where? Ok, I’ll get back to you
Another reason why and shedding is crucial is because discernment will show you that not everybody can go where you’ve been called to go. Some friends will need to be left behind in Egypt, others will perish in the red sea, others will follow you into the lion’s den, others will deny you three times and there are others that will take off the very robe & armour from their backs to cover you.
Unlike a gaggle of popstar groups, not all of your friends (believers & non-believers) will be rushing with you to do the work of the Lord. And this is cool because if you notice, God doesn’t use a crowd to do what he’s predestined a single person to do. God uses men to affect change through their circles and spheres of influences, so it’s ok if it all starts with you and you alone. When God raises up a generation He awakens the hearts of men that He has strategically placed in key places/locations, and so like an army of sleeper agents, we receive the call and are sent to be about His business. So do not be surprised to discover that a large majority of your friends will be ubwilling to come on that mission with you. Why, you ask? Keep reading is my reply.
- Not everybody CAN go where you’ve been called to go
- I repeat not everybody CAN go where you’ve been called to go
- Everybody will not WANT to go where you’ve been called to go
- Not everybody WILLS go where you’ve been called to go
- Everybody will not DESIRE to go where you’ve been called to go
The aforementioned appear to be pessimistic, sad and harsh interpretations of reality but hear me when I tell you that these are spiritual truths. When you’ve been through the fires of life, how many of your friends or family are jumping to retrace your steps? For some of us, God has called us into such battlefields and warzone that there will inevitably be some friends that will not want/will or desire to go with us. But this is because God never intended them to, therefore they cannot go with you. Serving God is such an honour, and when we grasp the fact that He can do absolutely anything by Himself, we realise that His using us to do what He will and has already done is merely an exhibition of His favour in our life. That is a gift that cannot and should not be easily traded, likewise it is a burden and a task that isn’t easily desired. Jesus spent His life attracting crowds and amassing a following yet when it came to the persecution, He was alone. When it came to dying on the cross, none of His close friends were with Him as He bled & died. They held onto their lives screaming YOLO at Roman guards trying to preserve said life. If you have never read the Bible before or don’t know much about it – the YOLO reference was a joke. I really wouldn’t want you to think they said YOLO back then ;).. Read the gospels Matt/Mark/Luke/John for context on the lead up to the death of Jesus. But back to the point, if that happened to Jesus, we really can’t be mad when it happens to us. Not everybody can go where you’ve been called to go, so be very vigilant about who you allow to travel with you on the journey towards your destiny. Remember the journey is half the battle and part of your training, it’s the rehearsal before the big finale! Losing friends may hurt but it doesn’t kill you when you realise that there are some missions that God has reserved exclusively for those who are fully sold out to Him, so much so they are even prepared to go in alone.
So there you have it folks! I hope this post has given you some food for thought in the area of friendship. All types of relationships are difficult to maintain and need to be actively worked on so it would be a lie if I said I a) was the perfect friend or b) had perfect friends. But we can all try our best and give our absolute all to one another to ensure that we are the being the best friend we can be!
So let’s spread the word, feed a spirit, encourage a soul!
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