I recently finished a novel that may never see publication. Maybe I wrote it for myself, as part of a healing process. In the story, a woman named Cassie discovers that her friend’s niece is struggling with a self-destructive problem. Cassie spends the bulk of the story in inner turmoil—part of her wanting to speak up so 19-year-old Alicia will get the help she needs, another part of her wanting to stay out of the whole mess. If she shares her suspicions she might reveal why she can recognize the danger signs—that once she battled the same disturbing desire.
At first I skated around the subject when friends asked, “What is your book about?”
“Oh, it’s kind of a female friendship story,” I told them. Not a lie. It is a story about friendship.
Then I let it slip to my friend Jane that the characters deal with an issue that I once battled myself. When she politely asked, “What’s the issue?” I felt a strong inner tug. Tell her. It’s okay. She’ll still love you. Besides, isn’t one theme of your story the freeing power of honesty?
So I told her. I told her about my years of depression and the dangerous methods that I found for dealing with the pain inside—that often, when things like anger, sadness, or rejection felt too overwhelming for words, I hurt myself, that I’d been what many refer to as a “cutter.”
Two things happened. First, Jane asked if she could read my book. I was thrilled! At least one person would read it. Second, I saw clearly that she still wanted to spend time with me. Our friendship deepened as she gained a greater understanding of me and what God freed me from, and I saw that I could trust her to both keep my story private and continue loving me.
Wonderful talks have followed. During one of them, Jane said something so profound that it echoed in my mind for days. She said, “You know, this problem that you had—yes, it was serious. Remember though, it’s not who you are. It is part of you but it doesn’t define you. Sure, you cut yourself, but you also raised two great kids, you taught, you wrote books, sang at church, and have been a good friend to people. There is so much more to you than this one thing.”
I don’t know why she chose to say that, but I thank God that she did. So often, I have allowed the wrong things to define who I am. I allow the bad to outweigh the good, my failures to override God’s triumphs, and before I know it, the pieces of who have been become, in my mind anyway, the very definition of me. I walk around ashamed, thinking if my friends only knew (fill in the secret) . . ., when in reality they are waiting to embrace me, scars and all, just as God does.
What a precious gift to have a friend who could remind me who I am by reminding me who I’m not. God opened my eyes to a truth that I didn’t know I needed to grasp until her words entered my ears, my mind, and finally my heart.
How has God used your friends lately, to encourage you? When has He used one of them to remind you of your value and identity in Christ, as Jane did for me? Which of your friends knows the real you—the pretty pieces of the puzzle and the not-so-pretty pieces?
Psalm 139:1-3 says, “O LORD, You have searched me and you know me, You know when I sit down and when I rise up; You understand my thoughts from afar. You scrutinize my path and my lying down, and are intimately acquainted with all my ways.”
All this and He still loves us. Take a moment to thank Him for this great love, and for the many times when He has revealed it through others.