Concerning Change | Part 3

Change can be beautiful. Strange, right? I often think of change as a negative thing. I like staying within the safety of my comfort zone and squirm at the thought of making new friends. Starting over proves exhausting, and creating new friendships can be awkward. You both feel a little out of place and apprehensive as you piece together a one-dimensional first impression. But beauty lies in all of it.

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The past few weeks, I’ve met new acquaintances, reunited with old ones, made a new friend, and learned some things as I’ve navigated the rocky road of adult friendships. Today, I want to share some of those with you.

  1. Don’t rely on first impressions.

I have fallen into this trap on more than one occasion. I find the girl that strikes me as confident, personable … and dare I say it, popular! This girl makes a stellar first impression, and I want to get to know her. However, I have found that I rarely become good friends with that girl.

Popular, confident girls that give a great impression are worth knowing and many of them are genuine. I am simply saying that first impressions are flimsy and you may find that the quiet, awkward girl becomes your real friend faster than the confident girl. You can never accurately guess which way it will go! So be kind to everyone, and rule out first impressions.

  1. Awkward first chats are so worth it!

AGH! Do you ever find yourself having that first conversation and feeling out of place? It’s strange to grow a real friendship in awkward, disjointed patches of conversation. Don’t shy away from the hard work and the discomfort of getting to know someone. You can’t completely avoid awkwardness. Embrace it, push through it, and get to know that person! Awkward chats don’t last forever.

  1. Ask but also share.

In our effort to ask questions and get to know someone, we often forget to share about ourselves. A friendship is a two-way street. You have to let the other person in your door. I’m not saying share your deepest secrets, but share about your life! You’ll never have real friends if you don’t.

  1. Real friendships take time … and effort.

DUH! Everyone knows this! But knowing is much easier than doing. Real friendships are hard, hard, hard. They don’t come when you snap your fingers or wish upon a star. You have to do the work and consistently choose to invest in another person. Pursue friendships no matter how long it takes. It is worth the time and energy, even if you only make one new friend.

  1. Learn to trust.

If you trust no one, you’ll be miserable. As an adult, you’ve probably been betrayed by more than one person in your life. You have the scars to prove it. Five years later, you might still feel the pain, but you can’t let that stop you. Choose your friends wisely, and then choose to trust them.

The truest friendships go beneath the thick layers of the heart and say “I’m staying anyway.” You will never know the beauty of this until you let go, embrace risk, and learn to trust. Be someone who can be trusted, and in turn, learn how to trust.

As you navigate the daunting world of change, don’t forget to “put yourself out there” and make friends. People are the beautiful things in life. Developing solid, enjoyable friendships turn new places into home.

In Christ,

Sierra Straightforward

Have other tips? Share them with me in the comment section below!

 

Hope Courage Strength

Takiela Bynum Leading Young Women to Hope

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So be strong and courageous, all you who put your hope in the LORD! ~Psalm 31:24 NLT

 ATTENTION: All you who put your hope in the Lord

It’s easy to hope when you’re skipping through the roses of life. However, do you have hope when life is anything but a walk through the garden? Are you desperately clinging to hope when everything that was solid in your life has been reduced to a heaping pile of debris? Where is your hope when all that you’ve secretly feared has suddenly become a harsh reality?

There have been times that my life was devastating and as a result my hope was dashing, (and I don’t mean good looking either). My hope was shattering because of what was happening.

Most of us have a basic knowledge of what it means to hope, but the actual definition of hope gives us a clearer image.

hope: the feeling that what is wanted can be had, a person or thing in which expectations are centered, to look forward to with desire and reasonable confidence, to believe, desire, or trust* *Merriam-Webster Dictionary

Unknown to me the image wasn’t as sharp as it could be and the Lord stepped in with His holy Windex so to speak. He cleaned up the lens of my perspective and what was cloudy become crystal clear – He revealed a deeper meaning of the word hope. Two little words, smack dab in the middle of the definition, lit up and flickered before my eyes.

hope: await, to be patient, trust, be pained, stay, tarry, wait* *Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance

Precious hearts, there are times it will be painful to hope. There will be moments that every fiber of your being will scream – give up! I’ll be the first to admit that in a few instances, I did actually give up. I’d been depleted of even the shadow of hope. Have you ever been there, has life ever mercilessly snatched every fraction of hope from you?  I remember on a couple of occasions my hopelessness devoured my well-being, my reasoning, my faith, it swallowed me whole. Oh but thank God that my Father stepped in and did not allow it to consume me. When my hope became too frail for me to hold on to Him, my God in all His glorious power held me, just as He is holding you right at this moment.

Yes, to hope is the feeling that what is wanted can be had, it is a person/thing in which expectations are center, it is trust, it is being patient, but it is also being pained…and painful it is, painful indeed.

In the previously mentioned verse (Psalm 31:24 NLT) it instructs those who put their hope in the Lord to be strong and courageous. It’s an interesting fact that the writer (David) specified exactly who he was addressing.

A lot of people put hope in a lot of things, and it’s not always the Lord. Hope is often misappropriated. It’s been put in finances, self, government, society, other people, celebrities, gods, etc. Make sure you are putting your hope in the right one, which is the Lord.

Several chapters later David asks a question and then answers it when he pens this verse…

And so, Lord, where do I put my hope? My only hope is in YOU. Psalm 39:7

When we mistakenly put hope in anything but the Lord it is guaranteed to disappoint. God alone has the power to fulfill the absolute terms and conditions of hope. If your hope remains in Him it will always be secure. Ultimately, He is the driving force (power) that enables the hope you put in Him, to accomplish what would otherwise be impossible.

Hope feeds the courageous appetite; it satisfies the hunger of strength.

For those who hope in the Lord, strength and courage are essential. It is not for the faint of heart. Although the words are similar in meaning (actually their definitions are intertwined), there is a fine line between strength and courage, and the Lord has a way of clarifying what He wants us to understand.

This is what I discovered…

Strength is measured by what you carry, however, courage is measured by what you can bear.

Without hope there is no courage. Without strength courage cannot exist.

How can you be courageous without hope? There is no need to be courageous if hope isn’t present. How can there be courage without strength? The world is full of strong cowards (our enemy, satan, for example – he has some strength with a limited amount of power but he is also a coward) however, courageous wimps have yet to be discovered. I’d venture to say that strength and courage are a few of the prerequisites to putting your hope in the Lord.

In this life you will have trouble, but put your hope in God, be strong, and courageous. For strength may be measured by what you carry, courage may be measured by what you bear, but hope is measured by the light you hold while surrounded by darkness.

May the hope you put in God be illuminated with courage and strength.