Have you ever been in a place that you wonder how you even got there at all? Have you ever looked around and everything seemed foreign and unfamiliar? Did you ever wonder how Alice got further and further down the rabbit hole before she realized that she could no longer find her way out?
Friendship, though sometimes overwhelming, can be a fulfilling experience. Overwhelming in that we can feel pressured to be something we are not, misguided in our understanding of what it truly represents.
Every youth at some point in their childhood has an epiphany-charged moment in which they realize the kind of friends that they want in their lives. As you examine each individual relationship you begin to lean towards some, more than others. You start to understand that being with certain individuals makes you feel either better or worse about who you are and who you want to be.
Friends are the people along the journey that force you to stop and examine the qualities inside you that make you, you. Those qualities that make you examine your likes and dislikes, motives, boundaries, passions, dreams, fears and future. They challenge you to test your limits. They help you decide how deep you choose to allow your parental roots to flourish while building your persona and establishing the reasons behind your “joie de vivre”.
But they are not just there to contribute to who you are, but also to receive. Because let’s face it, we all want to be accepted. We all want to be a part of something mutually satisfying. We want to know that being with someone or spending time on someone is going to be worth the effort that we put out. We want to feel that at any moment we can reach out and know that this person will have our back in no matter what situation we are facing and that they won’t ever let us down. But, the truth of the matter is that they will. No matter how close we think the friendship is.
Friendship is not about perfection. It is not about always telling someone exactly what they want to hear. It is not about pretending that everything they do is sufficient to sustain the relationship. It is not about becoming who they are, in order to feel connected. It is not about compromising who you are, in order to prove your worth. It is not about holding the friendship hostage using manipulative methods and deception. It is not about taking advantage of their positive qualities and exploiting them to boost your own ego. It is not about any of these things.
Friendship is a bond that is created through commonalities shared between people involving sacrifice, truth, respect and unconditional love. It must be unconditional in order to see past the imperfections that make us human. These types of relationships are what keep us connected. Sometimes, as individuals and as a society we become so disconnected that we begin to wonder who we are at all. It is through personal bonds that we become.
Friendship does not just happen. It must be on purpose. There must be a desire to want to have certain people in special moments of life, some good moments, some bad. There must be an effort to reach out, allowing yourself to become vulnerable and accountable to another. We must choose to celebrate these bonds and make it known to them that they are irreplaceable in our lives. We must assure them through words and actions that nothing they do will change our feelings. We must follow-up with them despite miles of separation and varying seasons in life. And we must reciprocate and allow understanding to grow when gaps of time would suggest loss of connectivity. When inspired and led by the Spirit of God we must not hesitate in using the instilled gifts and talents God placed in us to be a blessing to them.
When Jesus came to earth, he not only came for the purpose of salvation. He also came to be an example of loving others the way we want and desire to be loved. He came to show us that even our enemies deserve to have a hand extended to them in friendship. After all, one of his closest friends even betrayed him with a kiss, and yet he loved him. Although this extreme may be foreign and difficult to us as humans, we must still strive for it. It is in the striving that we stretch ourselves and allow God to continue to shape us for greatness, with God and man.
Friendship is the pathway that leads into the introduction for greatness. It allows us to be ever-evolving, sharpening others and allowing them to sharpen us through the privilege of a co-starring role in the story of their lives as well as in ours.
John 15:15 “Instead, I have called you friends…”.
Proverbs 27:17 ” Iron sharpens iron…”.
The new year’s transition into 2017 turned out to be an unusual one for me, as well as for others. Ordinarily you end one year with sad regrets of unfulfilled resolutions and enter the new year with ballooned cascades of hope-filled dreams and promises of a better year at all costs.
The end of 2016 seemed to meld into the beginning of 2017 as if in a peculiar spiritual embrace, with trace reminders of how short and precious life is and how the relationships around us can be suddenly severed through the sometimes brutal sureties of life. It left feelings of emptiness that could only be recaptured by reminders of those that have stood closer than a brother when times were most difficult and enlightenment as to our present existence being so small countered only by the greatness of our faith expressed in something, or, for some of us, someone much greater. It is only through these expressed bonds that we are able to hold on dangling to a life we once held secure and now must learn to accommodate for the purpose of satiating unfamiliar feelings and probing strange new terrain on our life’s journey.
From a spiritual vantage the transfusion from 2016 to 2017 did not feel like an ending or a beginning. Instead, it was a continuation of a process that was fulfilling its course. It was a painful pruning of one’s spiritual tree of humanity that would, unbeknownst, produce a manifestation of a capricious harvest despite being unsolicited.
The human condition, like a garden, can often be an amazing thing when on the cusp of transformation. It can require, however, an individual to come to the very brink of sheer and utter darkness in order to exterminate all the superficial layers and pestilence that have been covering the original seed carrying the light of life. Many of my close family, friends and loved ones have experienced trauma, sickness and the loss of those beloved to them coming out of one year and going into the next. They have had to overcome huge obstacles connected with jobs, relationships and life-changing decisions.
I, myself, had to come face to face with my mother’s terminal lung cancer diagnosis, in addition to her already debilitating bouts of Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s. Anger, disappointment and sadness, amongst other emotions, consumed the foundation of my emotional core. Despite my inability to breathe or control what was going on, God surrounded me with loved ones, both family and friends, who prayed, talked, encouraged and supported my every step with unconditional love in the form of finance, friendship and faith. All of these things encompassed by the peace of God exposed revelation and understanding about position. It allowed me to become the very person that my mother needed me to be in order to soften the blow that life had just dealt her. We never know how strong we are until we are faced with unbearable pain that we are positive has surpassed our highest level of tolerance. Facing the giants of life, turmoil and death will cause us to reexamine our lives and our positions in it.
I have discovered that as God has constantly reiterated in His word, timing is everything and He will never give you more than you can handle. Overall, through our personal decisions and chosen course, no matter how bleak the situation may seem, God’s main target is to grab hold of our hearts. Like a surgeon immediately after a transplant, God pumps them back to life and then pumps them some more just long enough to dislodge the stones and debris that have gotten trapped over the years. At the same time He squeezes out the contaminated blood, transfusing His own, introducing new purpose and new life. A new life discovered through the opening in the narrow path, allowing the manifestation of who God intended us to be, to come to pass.
So, was the ritualistic ending of 2016 into a new 2017 really missed? Not at all. The time continuum was shaken and repurposed to bring focus to the coming materialization of true destiny for our lives here on earth, through the Lord’s will and the kingdom that is coming. The spotlight being the witness of the salvation of the Lord and the promises planted in our heart’s desires, long ago, by the King of kings.
Isaiah 55:11 “So shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; It shall not return to me void, But it shall accomplish that which I purpose and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.”
Matthew 6:22, 23 “The eye is the lamp of the body. If your vision is clear, your whole body will be full of light. 23 But if your vision is poor, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness!”
It is said that the eyes are the windows to the soul. We all know this to be true if we have ever lovingly gazed into the eyes of another individual in close relationship or have dared to confront the eyes of those opposite us while in conflict. Even the act of looking directly into the eyes of others in conversation is a sign of respect or disrespect, depending on what side of the world you are from. In law enforcement officers are trained to watch body language when questioning suspects or witnesses, one of the focuses being the eyes, which have a hard time concealing their meaning. When we are stressed, over-stimulated or in a state of contemplation it is either natural or recommended for us to shut our eyes in order to bring a state of rest over our mental status and physical body. And the body, when exhausted, will naturally and almost immediately send direct messages to our brain which in turn tells our eyes to close themselves almost automatically. Ultimately, the eyes can be a direct gateway into our psyche, dreams and visions. So then why are we not more conscious of what we expose them to on a daily basis? I, myself am guilty of this very dangerous behavior.
Despite having a testimony, before Christ, of witchcraft, occultism and knowledge of the enemies methods of attack and bondage, when in sluggard-mode I can become complacent in the guarding of my eyes and the “things” that I allow into them. I fell victim to exactly this on a night after receiving some devastating news about the progressing illness of a close family member and allowing myself gratification while attending my own pity party. The attack manifested itself after this self-indulgence of the flesh, which in my case, heavily influenced by the eighties, resulted from a horror movie. Before salvation I purposefully exposed myself to many horror novels and books satiating my flesh to the sadistic sacrifices and blatant bashing of God and Christ that is oftentimes displayed in such films. (I am in no way judging or condemning anyone who watches horror films, but instead am exposing my weakness that led me to the choices that would eventually lead me into complete and utter darkness.)
As I skimmed through my cable channels looking for some sort of diversion from the overwhelming thoughts in my mind, I came across a movie that I had never seen nor had ever desired to see. The movie was the 2009 horror film Underworld: Rise of the Lycans, directed by Patrick Tatopoulos. Now some might say, why mention the name of the film, surely the experience is enough? And in some instances this may be true, but for this particular experience I believe that what happened to me was a direct result of my morbid curiosity combined with the desire to fulfill the need of my flesh to be served. I was angry and felt slighted by the circumstances of life that had overtaken someone I truly loved. And so I decided to indulge, open my eyes and watch.
In the movie it became quickly obvious to me that this was a dramatization about vampires vs. werewolves, aka Lycans. As the movie progressed it revealed that there was a war between the two “bloodlines” and that the vampires had enslaved the Lycans, hence the title of the film. During a particular scene there were some Lycans fully transformed into their horrific, monstrously wolf-like forms, chained up to the walls in some dark, gloomy dungeon awaiting their victims. Ironically, as I sat alone on my couch, pupils fixated, watching in my dismal, somber living room, besot by the image of the Lycans chained to the wall, I verbalized a spiritual prognostication,
“So that’s what they look like,” (referring to the demons that are chained away in Hell awaiting judgement, 2 Peter 2:4).
Shortly after the revelation, I could no longer watch the movie. I switched over to something less grisly, but then swiftly, suddenly and hypnotically fell into a deep sleep. I had not even realized that I was asleep when I started to dream. In the dream I saw my ill relative and my two grandchildren. My relative began to violently vomit on the floor. One of my grandchildren did not see it and stepped in it. When I grabbed them to rush to the bathtub to clean them off in water I was surprisingly transported back to the couch, only all the cushions had been removed and I was lying instead on the black material that laid at the bare bottom. Everyone kept walking by me as if I was not there. I was paralyzed and could not move or call out to them, even my vocal cords were in a state of suspension. No matter how hard I tried to move or speak nothing would happen, I was helpless. I had been here in this condition before but my numbness clouted my head. My body temperature rose and I began to panic as my senses recollected the familiar mode of fight or flight.
Without warning the fold where the backside of the couch meets the bottom opened up and I could feel my body tilt as if on a slant. The smell of ash filled my nostrils and I heard unsettling sounds of fires burning and crackling. Intently listening, the sound of disturbed, guttural snarling opened a hollow in the pit of my stomach. I felt a large, heavily clawed grip holding tightly to the back of my shirt, ripping the material on the couch as it began to drag me down into the bowels of a place I knew I did not want to go. Terrified, I remembered my paralytic state, and knew I would be swallowed into a realm that nightmares could not conjure. My blood ran cold and my heart quickened and the gust of heat that arose abruptly dried the saliva from my lips. Until. I remembered. The name. The name that is above every name. The name every knee shall bow to…those in heaven…those on the earth… and mostly, those under the earth. The name that every tongue shall confess is Lord. My mind screamed out as I barely uttered the name of Jesus.
Instantly, the demon released his hold and sunk back into the unknown depths from where he originally emerged. As my eyes illuminated I could make out my surroundings and feel movement, fueled by the rush of warm blood, returning to my stiffened muscles. I must admit I was shocked to find myself still lying on the couch heavily breathing; the still lingering sensation of the fiendish grip on the back of my shirt beginning to fade along with the dreadful sounds of the underworld.
My pupils adjusted to the light of the television screen as did the understanding of my transgression. I confessed the open gateway of my pride to the Lord, asking for forgiveness and a hedge of protection for myself, those in the house with me, my family and our home. I thanked Him for His mercy and undeserved grace. I knew that once again my Savior had delivered me from my own stubbornness and vice. He did not forsake me. Never would. Then, came the revelation of what the Father had just realigned and restored. My vision. It had been shrouded by my three-dimensional sin, manifesting my fear, unlocking a doorway that God had purposefully shut, for the enemy of my soul to reenter through. Only by faith in the blood of Jesus and the power of His Spirit was I able to counteract the opening, closing it by way of the unveiling of the Father’s eternal, supernatural, multi-dimensional glory.
Psalm 139:8 “If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.”