Friends

Friends: Vulnerable and Authentic

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Written by: Nikki Laureano

The year leading up to becoming born again was not an easy road to walk down. At the time, I had a close-knit group of girlfriends and we did everything together. We partied together. We went to concerts together. We binged watched TV together. We babysat for each other.

However, I was faced with the stark truth that my seemingly satisfying friendships were nothing more than worldly connections built on a shallow surface. I can’t pinpoint the exact moment it hit me, but when it did, I slowly started to disengage from the toxicity in my life.

It was not easy. In fact, it made for some of the loneliest days of feeling judged and misunderstood. But the solitude would not last, and I thank God for that every day.

“Then the Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper who is just right for him.” – Genesis 2:18 NLT

Throughout my life, I have always forged friendships by impressing people. But I was getting tired of being put inside of someone else’s box of standards and expectations.

I started to see the girl in the mirror, and realized I had neglected her my entire life. So, I journeyed to find friends who would see me for who I was and love me nonetheless. When they say God provides exactly what we need at exactly the right time, they are not kidding.

“Look at the ravens. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for God feeds them. And you are far more valuable to him than any birds!” – Luke 12:24 NLT

I started searching for friends on Facebook (I didn’t know where else to look). So, I looked through profiles of mothers whose kids were in my daughter’s class. As I was doing that, I came across a video of one of those moms talking about an upcoming event. I was immediately intrigued.

She was vulnerable and shared bits and pieces of her heart and her brokenness. She invited women who felt ashamed and women who felt they couldn’t be used by God because of their past.

I think it took all of five minutes before I was signed up, but I will be honest… I had no idea what I was signing up for. Even though that conference took place almost a year ago, I can barely put into words what it meant to me without my eyes welling up with tears, tears of pure joy and gratitude.

I arrived at the event with zero expectations. I was extremely anxious and totally out of my comfort zone, and in return I was met by some of the most authentic and encouraging women. They were courageous and brave to such a degree that all you could see was the emanation of Jesus Christ.

I was immediately wrapped in grace and love. It was like someone really looked at me and said, “Oh… there you are!” And even though I arrived that weekend to a crowd of strangers, I left knowing I was the daughter of a King and we, as sisters, belong to each other and must care for one another.

“As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend.” – Proverbs 27:17 NLT

Almost a year later, these friendships continue to augment and enrich my life in such a way that can only be God driven. They have taught me how to be the kind of friend that we all need; the kind of friend God asks us to be.

He created no two people alike; down to our fingerprints and our heartbeats, we are all vastly different. God calls us not only into compassion for those that are different from us, but also into kinship with them. And every day, I am so grateful that my greatest adversity has become my ministry in life where I get to build authentic relationships with women of all backgrounds and together, we get to further the kingdom of God!

God, we are so grateful for your faithfulness and provision! Thank you for giving us the gift of vulnerability so that we can cultivate authentic friendships in your name and further discover who we are and who You are. In Jesus’ Name, Amen!

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