No one needs a perfect friend - they just need an authentic one.

Every year the Lord sends me into a deep and thorough internal search.
It is always good, but it is not always pretty.
I love that I am not the same woman I was five years ago, but I still have much work to do!
And in order to grow, I must be willing to look at the good, the bad, and the ugly ~ no matter how uncomfortable ~ and see where I resemble Christ, and where I still look way too much like Michelle.
During this recent time of introspection, the Lord had me walk through my role as a friend.
And I came up with some questions.
I started with Dennis, then sent them to another friend, and will continue to do so as the Lord directs.

There is always a bit of risk in questions like these because each person perceives and defines things differently.
For instance, I ask if they feel pursued by me.
While I may pursue a friend once a week, she needs/wants me to do so three times a week, so she would respond that I do not meet this need and I fail her in this area.
Therefore, a discussion about current expectations (met and unmet), and adjusting them to reflect realistic and mutually-satisfying expectations becomes a priority.

I think one of the hardest parts of friendship, or any relationship, is the continual need for examination and conversation about expectations. We all have them. We all describe and define them differently. And it is absolutely impossible for anyone to meet all of them consistently and intentionally day after day.
We are flawed, forgetful, selfish people.
Though we desire to think of one another above ourselves, and seek to meet each other's needs, we will blow it. Either unwittingly or simply because in that moment we just don't care about anyone but ourselves.
Relationships endure hardships.
Offenses and hurts.
But that is when Christ steps in and says, "Confess your sins one to another, and forgive one another just as I have forgiven you."
It is awkward, embarrassing, and sometimes humiliating.
But when we do it, we are walking in obedience.

I am not a perfect friend. I am not a perfect anything. And it is because of this truth that I am willing to hear the hard and painful answers.
A real friend ~ a Biblical friend ~ will tell me what I need to hear, even if it is awkward to do so.
The wounds of a friend are faithful. And once the sting wears off from the initial blow, growth happens. Maturity happens. Sanctification is at work. And more of those rough edges are smoothed out  ~ and made beautiful.
I will never be a perfect friend because I cannot be all things to all people all the time.
I will hurt, offend, and disappoint. More than once. Even when I am not trying to.
But I cannot declare myself a 'failure' and avoid the human race. Instead, I need to confess, apologize, seek forgiveness, and then start fresh ... forgetting what lies behind and pressing on to what lies ahead.

This time of looking at myself from the inside out was challenging, profitable, difficult, and encouraging.
It is good to see that I have not been stagnant, but the Lord brought to light the things that need attention and care.

My friends do not need a 'perfect Michelle.'
They need a real, vulnerable, humble, sincere, and Spirit-filled Michelle.
And the only way they will ever have her is if she is seeking so hard after God they have to find HIM, to get to her.

Lord, may this be true of me!
Thank You for this time of reflection and taking a hard look inside. It was necessary ... and it was good.
Never stop showing me where I can grow, Lord! It is not always easy, and sometimes I fight You, but it IS what I want because in order to look more like You, I have to remove more of me.

A "What kind of friend am I?" Survey

~ If you had to describe me in 5 words or less, which words would you choose?
~ How would you describe me specifically in the role of a friend?
~ Am I a Biblical friend?
~ What do you consider my greatest weakness(es)?
~ When we talk, are my faith, my biblical convictions, and my love for the Lord evident, or are they difficult to see?
~ Do you feel encouraged and refreshed after spending time with me, or do you leave feeling like I am inattentive and self-focused?
~ Am I a good listener?
~ Am I quick to bear your burdens, or do you feel I neglect your hurts and cares?
~ Am I faithful to follow up after you share something vulnerable and personal with me?
~ Do I push hard enough when you need correction/rebuke?
~ Am I tender and gentle when you need a safe place to be broken and hurting?
~ Are you confident in my love and friendship, or do you doubt my commitment to you?
~ Do I pursue you?
~ Do I encourage you in your walk with the Lord?
~ Do I encourage you in any area of life?
~ Do I ask questions that matter?
~ Do you trust me?

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