I absolutely love having friends. I love having people to laugh with, to joke with, to talk to, to hang out with. I love being able to spend time with friends, and I love the ones God has blessed me with.
However, I honestly don’t have many friends, and even fewer that I would call close friends. I have grown to be more discerning in my friend choices, and I have my own standards and criteria for what I look for in a good friend. This has forced me to look at my friends with a different perspective. How many of my friends build me up in Christ? Encourage me to get in the Word? How many of them lift me up and encourage me when I’m in need of encouragement, or in a spiritual rut?
Quite frequently, I feel alone. I often feel like I don’t have anyone I could pour my heart out to. Really there aren’t a lot of people I feel that I could open up to who wouldn’t be tapping their feet, glancing at their watch, and mentally devising an excuse to escape. Every now and then, I wonder if there’s something different about me that makes people avoid me instead of want to be around me.
The answer is yes, there is something different about me. There is a huge difference between me and everyone else. (Not just my warped sense of humor) I am a Christian. I am living in this world, but strive not to be of it. I strive for something far beyond what others hope to gain. I don’t live here just to have fun. I live here to make a difference. My purpose in being here is to be a light to those around me and point the way to Christ. This automatically singles me out as “different”.
When you choose Christ over the world, you take the persecution with it. Persecution doesn’t necessarily mean being tortured or martyred, as many have made it out to be; although they are forms of it. It is defined as, “harassment, maltreatment, bullying, singling out, discrimination”. Of course, being martyred and tortured are the most obvious and cruel forms of persecution, but it doesn’t even have to be that extreme. In Mark 13:13 it says, “Everyone will hate you because of me, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved.” Everyone (the world) will hate us because we bear the name of Christ; but the one who stands firm to the end, the one who isn’t defeated by the harassment, discrimination, will be saved from this world of persecution.
This is the explanation for why we are alone. Because we are Christians, the world will hate us. This is what we should expect. This is the cost of following Christ.
Now you cry, “Seriously? Christ wants us to feel lonely and rejected?”
No, Christ does not want us to feel lonely and rejected. He wants us to feel loved and accepted by Him. He wants to draw us in to Himself, instead of turning from Him to gain the world’s acceptance. He doesn’t want us to meet the world’s approval. He wants us to strive for His. To follow Christ means total abandonment to the world, and total surrender to Him. We leave the world to follow Him.
This is hard to accept sometimes. This is hard for me to accept. But He will meet our needs. He is all that we need.
But yes, you will be avoided by the world. It will be harder to find friends, because our standards for life are different; we won’t “fit in”. Because I don’t have a phone, because I don’t have Facebook (like so many kids my age and even younger do), because I don’t attend many of the activities that so many people do, because I don’t dress, act, and talk like everyone else, and because I’m not connected with the world via social media, I don’t have friends like everyone else. But I don’t want that. I don’t want friends like everyone else. I want friends like Christ.
Now, I know that one of the problems I deal with is that I don’t like to meet new people. I don’t like reaching outside of my comfort zone to say hi to the new girl sitting off in the corner. I’m actually kind of shy when I’m around people I don’t know. Therefore, I usually don’t make the effort to reach out to others.
I was really convicted a few months ago, though. A new family started coming to our church, and their two daughters that are around my age are very shy. That was when my conscience started pricking me. Go talk to them, Lauren. Go say hello. I battled with myself, making excuses. No! I don’t even know their names. Besides, I want to go talk to my friends. Maybe some other day. But then I remembered when I first started coming to church, and how for a few months I sat all by myself every week, alone and wishing there was someone to come and talk to me. So I finally quit fighting with myself and have made an effort since to reach out to them like I had wished for when I first started coming.
How are we going to have any friends if we don’t make an effort? This is something I’m terrified at the thought of. I don’t want to go meet new people, I don’t want to reach outside of my cozy comfort zone. And yet, I still have a pity party because “I feel lonely”. Step outside of your comfort zone and say hello to the new kid at church, or the lonely girl off to the side. This is something I’m still working on.
On a closing note, God brings certain people into our lives for certain reasons, even if we can’t see it at the time. I know there have been people in my life to be a friend to me when I had no one, others to build me up in Christ, others for me to encourage in Christ. Whatever the reason, God does place people in your path, whether for you to leave an impact on their life, or for them to leave an impact in yours. But ultimately, God is in control. He knows your needs far before you realize them. He will meet your needs. He is all you need.