Friendships are about more than just going out and having fun together. While those make for wonderful memories, these relationships are also about support, guidance and acceptance. When someone feel safes in a friendship, they feel free to divulge their secrets, their sins and their shortcomings without judgment. There are some incredible effects of this type of strong and lasting friendship, as I’ve recently seen firsthand.
Supporting One Another
It is amazing to me that whenever safe friends interact with one another, they gain the freedom to emotionally heal and discover new developments in their personal growth. I saw it happen again this past weekend. I was leading a discussion with a group of about 50 men about what Godly manhood looks like. We were discussing the need for men to focus our passions. God put high levels of testosterone in the male body partly to enable him to be passionate about God, his family, his career, his friendships and his ministry to others. The passion is persistent and powerful. When it is in focus, it makes a great contribution to life. When it is out of focus, it creates damage.
Real Stories Of Struggle
In the midst of the discussion, one of the men stood up and said, “I have been attending Celebrate Recovery for the past seven years. I had a 12-year struggle with pornography and I couldn’t understand why I couldn’t overcome it. As I met with other men who were willing to be honest about their out-of-focus passions, I discovered the real source of my struggle was a nagging loneliness and inability to manage stress in my life. I found when I was willing to be honest with others and let others specifically pray for me like James 5:16 says, I began to find some victory.”
When he sat down, another man stood and said, “My name is Simeon. I am a group leader in a men’s recovery group and I have been walking free now for 13 years. Proverbs 28:13 states, ‘Whoever conceals their sins does not prosper, but the one who confesses and renounces them finds mercy.’ All I can say is that since I was willing to admit to my struggle with lust and pornography, I have been progressing in the right direction and life is a lot easier on me. I am finally convinced that God actually loves me.”
The Power Of Safe Friendship
What happened next was the big surprise. Several men who did not speak were wiping tears from their eyes. Some of them even had to take off their glasses to clear the tears. Three of those men talked to me afterwards to tell me they were afraid God would stop loving them because of some of their mistakes, but after hearing other men tell their stories, they somehow became convinced God’s love was bigger than their past.
To be sure, not everyone you know is a safe person. The Bible is just as clear about the fact that “bad company corrupts good character.” You, therefore, don’t want to be vulnerable with everyone you know. But when safe friends get together, God moves in powerful ways so that people can heal from past hurts and find the courage to move forward in their lives. Here’s how you know when you’ve found a safe friend:
- Safe friends accept where you are in your journey without being judgmental.
- Safe friends believe their mistakes are no greater and no worse than your mistakes.
- Safe friends remind you that you have been forgiven by the death of Jesus on the cross (Romans 8:1).
- Safe friends are confident that you can be become as good as you want to be.
- Safe friends let you tell your story and never use your story to “enhance” their conversations with others.
- Safe friends ask God to give you the victory you are seeking.
Next time you get together with your safe friends, tell a little of your story and see what God does. You’ll be amazed at how being vulnerable with a trusted friend can help you feel free.