You know that baggage you haul? You know…the tattered and torn suitcase full of heavy rocks that you bring with you from relationship to relationship? The one that you are afraid to open in front of your new friends because some of the rocks may come tumbling out for every one to see? What if we didn’t allow our heavy suitcases to burden us any longer? What if instead of being afraid of rocks mistakenly falling out for all to see if we intentionally unpacked them?
What if we didn’t allow our fear of disappointment dictate how we interact in our relationships? Disappointment is a rock we know well; all carry that one around. Disappointment in our job, spouse, kids, lifestyle, home, parents, co-workers, friends, neighbors, even our own bodies. These rocks weigh down our suitcase from childhood. There is no question that we all have disappointments in life. We live in a fallen world that is oftentimes devoid of any utterance of Jesus. Here’s the thing…what if instead of hiding our disappointments behind the façade of perfectionism, that most of us tend to display to the world, and instead we acknowledge our disappointments and share them with our friends in the knowledge that they too have experienced disappointment in their life. What if our sharing our disappointments and failures with our friends allows us to minister to one another’s hearts, strengthening our friendships, bringing depth and value to that which Satan would have us be crushed by.
Discouraged because maybe you did share some of your disappointments in a prior relationship and it didn’t go well? Perhaps it even hurt and ended the relationship? Many have that rock stashed in their suitcase too. I know I do. It’s Satan’s dirtiest trick; give them a bit of rope and they hang themselves, right? Discouragement. We tend to think this way especially after we have opened up our suitcase and revealed some of our rocks of disappointment and instead of helping us unload the rocks they are launched back at us with intent to strike. Our suitcase feels heavier after a battle such as this. We tend to take extra care to never reveal our rocks in our new relationships. We hide them and tend to isolate ourselves from relationship altogether in order to protect our rocks. What if we looked Satan in the face and tossed the rope back to him and told him, not this time, and handed our rocks of discouragement to Jesus? Allowing Him to heal our bruised (and sometimes shattered) hearts empowering us to overcome our disabling fear, to trust again, and reveal our rocks to those that haven’t hurt us.
What about those rocks of dissatisfaction we hide after we have shared the things we are scared to share with no response in return? When our expectation of shared experience is crushed and we find our hearts dissatisfied in a relationship we have worked so hard to build reveals itself as surfacey and lacking mutual enjoyment. Do we continue leaving our suitcase open for that relationship to add to our rock pile?
The difference in many relationships we will find ourselves in and an authentic friendship is grace. Grace allows you to trust. Grace allows you to forgive. Grace allows you to be real, transparent, and vulnerable in relationships. Grace bears the fruit of authenticity. Authentic friendship allows us to unload our suitcase full of disappointment, discouragement, dissatisfaction and disabling fear and leave them on the shores of grace, never to be carried again.
How do we find these authentic friendships? Well it’s a catch 22 really…in order to find authentic friendship you have to be authentic. This means both revealing your rocks and helping unload others’ suitcases full of rocks. Even in authentic friendships there will be times of hurt and misunderstanding. It’s in those experiences we must take care to never pick up and use another’s rocks in defense.
Grace always. Forgive quickly. Love mightily. These are the components of receiving and being an authentic friend.
How can you be more authentic in your relationships?
“A friend loves at all times.” Proverbs 17:17
“Greater love has no one than this, that someone lays down his life for his friends.” John 15:13
“Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor.” Romans 12:10