It was Friday evening, 7:46pm on Cleanse Day One. My dear friend Erika and I were on day three of our Thirty Day Road to Perdition Challenge. The month includes four separate cleanse days. I was certain, in this particular moment, it was one of our worst ideas to date. I fantasized, for just a moment, about the days when we bonded over salty chips, cheese dip, and $3 house margaritas. Those were the good old days. Oh Monday…how long ago it seemed. Now, we were reduced to chalky protein tablets and um, well, “cleansing agents.” We pouted for a bit, decided to press on, and each retired to our respective bachelorette pads.
If we couldn’t eat or sleep, we should at least read. This was no evening to salivate over The Food Network. I could not help but laugh out loud as I picked up my book and began reading where I had left off the evening before. The author is recounting her first trip to a remote African village where she meets a small child who is on the verge of death. A protruding belly, and only days before dying of starvation. My laughter at God’s timing quickly turned to tears and heartache over her account. In an instant, my #firstworldproblems, were ridiculous. And just as God was redirecting my heart, Erika was reading those same words. Our “plight” was put into perspective. This challenge and this book we are reading was going to be about more than weight loss. As if we should have been surprised, God always has something to show us. And He often does it within our relationships.
God continues to reinforce the importance of real community and friendship. One of my core beliefs is that God is just as concerned with me living a meaningful and purposeful life on this Earth as He is in my eternal soul. This life is a gift. Our trials and obstacles remind us of our need for Him, but I believe he reveals to us everyday and through other people His character: his kindness, goodness, and love. Accountability is essential for reaching a goal, keeping a commitment, and experiencing real growth. I think accountability is one of the most precious elements that can be added to a meaningful friendship. Proverbs 27:17(NLT) tells us, “As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend.” Ladies, we can be intentional about creating a life of accountability. The blessing are abundant.
Digging Deep Into Our Friendships…the Blessings of Accountability
It kills isolation. Why do we isolate ourselves during some of our loneliest times? We know in our heads that our loved ones and friends will be there for us, but we so often choose to walk alone during our darkest hours, ashamed to share that pain. When you connect with a friend and choose to open up, there is an immediate freedom. Our isolation vanishes, and a pathway is cleared for trust and vulnerability. This leads to a deeper connection where accountability can be set up.
It encourages us. Good friends can be our best cheerleaders. However, it is your job to let them know what they are to be cheering for. This doesn’t mean you have to tell every single friend your current life goal or heartbreaking trial, but letting someone in to share in your burdens is powerful. To have a friend, alongside you, praying with you and for you, is better than any Stuart Smalley affirmation you can give yourself. Try it out. You will find the more you encourage, the more you are encouraged yourself. It’s a win win, my friends.
It challenges us. We are made to enjoy each other, and just as much that, we are created to spur each other on—not accepting mediocrity, but demanding better. I love this. Erika and I are not letting each other give up this month. We are strong when the other is weak. And we are leaning on each other during the "in betweens." Friendships that challenge go beyond a weight loss goal, however. Often times our best friends are the ones who are not afraid of ruffling our “selfish feathers.” They press in. Call us out. This is the real work of love in action. By engaging, listening, and soaking in the challenge, we can encounter bigger growth and more changes into becoming the people we seek to be.
It points us back to God. Our friendships are bigger than our problems. They are bigger than that terrible blind date. They are bigger than contemplating if we should freeze our eggs? Kidding (not kidding). My best moments in my friendships are when we are compelled to reorient our thinking and remember the Truth. His Truth. “So then, since we have a great High Priest who has entered heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to what we believe. This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses, for he faced all of the same testings we do, yet he did not sin. So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most.” (Hebrews 4:14-16 NLT)
He gets us.
“Can we find a friend so faithful who will all our sorrows share? Jesus knows our every weakness; take it to the Lord in prayer.”
Sweet friends, the hymn is true! What a Friend We Have in Jesus.