By Brenda Yoder
People will fail you, but God never will.
It’s easy to talk about accepting yourself and having confidence, but how do you really do that in relationships with friends and peers?
It’s important to have friends who accept you and with whom you feel comfortable. How do you feel around your friends? Here are five things to consider in relationships as you grow in confidence and authenticity.
1. Being comfortable and confident in who you are draws others to you, making you a leader rather than a follower.
2. Rather than changing your interests to fit in, find peers who have similar interests with yours. Get involved in activities in- or outside of school where you can find friends who have similar interests and hobbies.
3. Don’t be friends with just anyone. Find one or two friends who accept you, are loyal and share your interests and values. Spend time with them outside of school—if your parents approve. Don’t be friends with someone who puts you down or disrespects you. Be picky about your friendships.
4. If someone doesn’t accept you as you are, don’t take it personally. People who are critical of others struggle with their own insecurities and put others down to make their confidence bigger. In these cases, it’s their problem, not yours.
5. If your friends make you change to be accepted, find other friends. It’s that simple. Friends should be people you have fun with and can be yourself with, not ones who make you feel unworthy, awkward, or bad about yourself.
Most kids you hang out with won’t be significant people in your life when you’re no longer a teen. If you change your character, interests or personality to hang out with a certain group now, you become a different person and will have heartache along the way. Don’t change who you are just to be accepted. Rest in your strengths, personality and interests and find others who understand and appreciate you. And see your confidence soar!
What things pull you down in friendships? Are there friendship struggles you have questions about? We’d love to help answer them!
Broken and Beautiful: Brenda has a Master’s Degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling, and a BA in Education. As a Parent, Counselor and Educator her ministry is helping moms and daughters navigate the tough stuff of life. Have a question for Brenda? Email her at [email protected]
By Ginger Ciminello
What do you do about friends that aren’t really good friends to you? I have a friend that is mostly negative and bitter. He gets mad at me often and says some mean things because he’s lonely and hurt. I always forgive him and try to stay his friend and encourage him. Sometimes he stays mad at me for days, weeks, even a month and then says he misses our friendship. I get so confused as to whether to end this friendship or keep trying to encourage him. I eventually do miss him after a certain time. Should I cut him off completely?
Thank you, D
D, Thank you so much for your note. This sounds like a very frustrating situation. I’m so sorry that your friendship is in a cycle that seems bent on repeating itself. While I do not know your friend or exactly what he says to hurt you, it doesn’t sound like he is treating you like much of a friend at all.
I know that the Lord is honored by your willingness to forgive this guy. It’s clear that you have done everything in your power to provide multiple opportunities for him to change his behavior and responses, all to no avail.
I suppose I want to remind you that the Jesus who said to pray for those who persecute us and to forgive as we have been forgiven is also the very same Jesus who told the disciples to shake the dust off of their sandals if they were not welcome in a city or home.
Good friendships are life-giving and sharpening
“As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.” (Proverbs 27:17, NIrV)
Negative friendships and relationships tend to have the opposite effect.
“Do not be misled: ‘Bad company corrupts good character.’” (1 Corinthians 15:33, NIV)
From what you have described, I don’t believe you’ve found yourself in a sharpening friendship. So how should you respond?
Continue to forgive.
“Forgive the things you are holding against one another. Forgive, just as the Lord forgave you.” (Colossians 3:13b, NIrV)
“Not forgiving is like drinking rat poison and then waiting for the other person to die.” -Anne Lamott
From your letter it sounds as if this is something you are attempting to do each time you are wronged. Forgiveness is for our own protection, it releases us from bitterness and the need to hurt back. Dr. Less Parrott III says, “Forgiveness is not the same as reconciliation. One may forgive the violations of another person yet not continue a relationship with the offender… While forgiveness is an indispensable prelude to reconciliation, it does not require a continuing relationship with the violator.”
Yes, we are called to love everyone, but that doesn’t mean we have to be friends with everyone. That may sound like a harsh reality, but I believe that sometimes it’s simply better to take a step back from a friendship. If a relationship displays repeated patterns of hurt, it may be time to reevaluate the situation. The Bible says that for the sake of the Gospel we should be prepared for hardships and persecution, but I don’t believe that’s something expected of you in close friendships. Here’s what I mean…
Loving our friends means being willing to say the hard truth.
It is “…a mistake to confuse forgiveness with excusing. Excusing is letting a person off the hook. Forgiveness keeps people accountable for their behavior. Nor is forgiveness tolerance. We do not have to tolerate what people do just because we have forgiven them for doing it.” (Smedes, Forgive and Forget.)
As I read your letter I couldn’t help but imagine how I would respond if you told me this was a dating relationship. If you were writing in about a boy you had been seeing for a few weeks I would encourage you to let this relationship go. In the book, “The Art of Rejection” by Hayley and Michael DiMarco, they write, “Two people can destroy each other in ways other than abuse. If you find that your spirit is weakening, your heart is breaking and you don’t know why, then maybe you are in a destructive relationship. If you can’t say that this person makes you better emotionally, mentally, and spiritually, you need to think about changing the situation. Relationships should make you both better, not worse.”
I believe that principle can easily apply to friendships with the opposite sex. I’m not here to tell you that those aren’t possible; I just want to check in and make sure that you aren’t taking on a role that one of his male friends should fill. (I do hope this guy has close male friendships.) If this is a pattern of behavior in all of his relationships, this man has a true heart issue going on that will require time, energy, prayer, and even counseling. Long story short: I don’t believe that you are the one to fix him or this friendship.
My advice, and I am not a pastor, counselor, expert or psychologist: Lay out your feelings clearly. Express what behavior you expect from a friend and how he continues to betray the trust worthy of a friend. Explain that you are willing to be friends if he is willing to act as a friend. Anything else and you will have to step away from your friendship.
May you have the courage and tact to move forward with peace and without anger. Please know that this response comes humbly your way.
By Kim Chaffin
A few years ago, we invited our friends to join us for Thanksgiving and I learned something very important. Although my friend is an amazing cook, I told her I would do the turkey and the main dishes if she would handle the dessert. “Are you sure you don’t want me to cook the turkey?” she said. I was excited to use my grandma’s roaster so I told her I had it covered.
The two of us began to plan the table decorations, and between both of our houses, we set one of the most beautiful tables I have ever seen. “Everything is going to be just perfect,” I told myself. I was going to make a Thanksgiving dinner to be remembered.
Sometimes the best-laid plans go sideways. Thanksgiving morning the comedy of errors began. As I set the turkey in the roaster pan, another friend told me, “You need to add water because if you don’t it will burn.” I questioned that, but then again, what did I know? I had never used the roaster before and cooking is not exactly my gift. An hour later the turkey was steaming, not roasting. The legs looked like they were going to fall off. Help!
I tried to call my friend, who was also my neighbor, but she was not home. Her husband told me she was at our other neighbor’s house. In a panic I called, and when my neighbor answered the phone, I said, “I have a turkey emergency!” Within minutes, I had three women in pajamas standing in my kitchen. The first thing they said was, “Why is there water in here?” As one of them tried to lift the turkey out of the pan, she said, “You didn’t get everything out of the inside.” I had looked in the wrong end, apparently. There I stood in my kitchen in tears as they tried to fix the turkey.
My friend, the amazing cook, said, “Let me take it to my place and cook it because I have a new electric thermometer.” Out the door the turkey went. Silently I cried, as I put the roaster away. I wanted so badly to cook the “perfect turkey” so I could have the “perfect dinner” to go with the “perfect table”. A few hours later my friend called to tell me the turkey was done. “Are you kidding me? It can’t be done yet,” I said. “We are not going to eat for a while.” Her response was, “My thermometer says it is.”
As we were getting everything ready to serve dinner, my husband began carving the turkey. I will never forget the look on his face as he informed us that it was not cooked all the way through. The turkey was then cut into pieces and placed on the barbecue. The poor thing was steamed, baked, and barbequed before it made it to the table. My “perfect dinner” was not perfect. Then again, maybe it was better than perfect.
I had put so much emphasis on the “perfect dinner” that I forgot what Thanksgiving was all about. It took a turkey to put things in perspective for me. As we sat down for dinner, we gave thanks and spent an evening filled with laughter about the stupid turkey. What mattered more than anything was the fellowship that took place around the dinner table. Too often we get so wrapped up in the production of the meal that we forget the reason behind Thanksgiving. Looking back, it was a Thanksgiving to be remembered. Maybe it wasn’t what I had originally envisioned but I am glad that it turned out the way it did. That day has become one of my favorite memories.
Now I am not saying I still don’t go a bit overboard on my table, but I have learned that family and friends are more important than the turkey. Last year the same family came over and we shared what we were thankful for as we ate our dinner. We played Bunco and the room was filled with laughter. As I watched my friend hold her grandson, I gave thanks that she was responding to her cancer treatment. I had learned a lesson in what was truly important.
This Thanksgiving, don’t get so wrapped up in the table decorations, the “perfect turkey”, and all the other details that you forget to really enjoy the day, instead make memories that will last a lifetime. Take time to give thanks, and remember, Thanksgiving is not just about the turkey.
By Takiela Bynum
Baby girl, when will you realize that no image on this earth reflects My beauty more than you? You will never know true beauty outside of Me…outside of you. Some of you, even your very name means beautiful, and each time someone calls your name, they are literally calling you beautiful. While others have names that have nothing to do with beauty (like Takiela); however, when I call you, trust that I’m calling you wonderful because that’s how I made you, full of wonder. You are who you are because of Me; you are made in My image, My image indeed.
I stitched you together, not your mother, not your father, but Me, the Father, your Lord, and your God. You cover what is meant to be seen and reveal what is meant to be covered. You have chosen to believe an ugly lie rather than the beautiful truth. You hide behind this fictitious person you’ve created in a desperate attempt to be accepted, failing to realize you weren’t designed to fit in, and the person you work so hard at hiding, is the person I destined for great things.
You deny the royal blood running through your veins, you deny the blood of My only paternal Son, and every time you deny the real you that I worked tirelessly creating, in essence you are denying Me. Who can define you but the One who created you? Why do you deny Me? I will never leave you. I will always love you. Don’t you understand that I am the only One who has the power to backup infinite terms like “never” and “always” I am not a mere man that I should lie, yet you refuse to believe Me.
You are not aware of it but that mask you’re wearing has dual objectives and it’s harming you more than it’s helping you. Although you may be using it as a protective barrier, it is also a preventative barrier. As it protects your heart from being pierced, it also prevents your heart from being penetrated. Pierced is hurt without purpose, they pierced my Son’s side after His mission was already complete (He was already dead) on the cross; penetration requires intimacy, it is pain with a purpose, a connection on a deeper level.
You were not designed to function independent of Me. In your blueprint, I created a rabid hunger within you that can only be satisfied by Me. Only evil thrives within hidden agendas and ulterior motives, with a single objective: to destroy you.
Remember My love if it IS about Me it will edify you, if it IS NOT about Me it’ll end you. I am redeeming, I am conserving, I am prospering. I am, that* (*what you need according to my will), I AM. Anything outside of Me is ravaging, crushing, and pulverizing; the intent is to utterly (or completely) destroy you. However, I am He who designed you and My intent is to entirely (wholly) draw you (to Myself).
Today, at this moment, “Take off that mask, I want a Father-Daughter dance with the real you. Hey beautiful, may I have this dance?”
By: Madi Cowell
Vulnerable: capable or susceptible to being wounded or hurt. When I read this definition my first reaction felt like a small pit in my stomach; maybe for you there was a flashback to a specific time in your life that you felt vulnerable.
What if there was a way we could take this painful word and use it for our benefit? Especially as young ladies, we are taught to never be vulnerable, never invest or attach and never let anyone in because of our fear of being hurt. Now don’t get me wrong, the bible tells us to guard our hearts, and that is some of the best advice out there. I can admit from my own personal experiences that once we are made a fool of we don’t want it to happen again. We opened our heart up to someone or something and had it thrown back in our faces. I can see that God gives us these “wounded” and “hurt” stories so that we can go and touch others, but we will never be able to if we let the idea of being vulnerable fill us with fear.
Every time we are hurt we can view it as a sorrowful moment, or we can see it as another great time that God can mold our hearts. Use your times of pain to be open to what he has to offer. In Ruth 3:11 we are told, “And now, my daughter, don’t be afraid. I will do for you all you ask. All the people of my town know that you are a women of noble character.” When we are going through hard times the easiest way of handling it all is to shut down so we don’t have to think of the pain.
What if – instead – we kept our hearts and ears open to the Lord for what is next?
How does He want to use the moments of pain and vulnerability in your life and turn them into something that is tremendously beautiful?