“I just love relationships. I love being a friend,” I said to my best friend over breakfast on a past Saturday morning.
She nodded and responded, “I know you do, Cate.”
I thrive off the energy of others. I long for deep conversations. I love the security of long-lasting friendship. Connecting with others brings me abundant joy. Of my many identities I have, my favorite is that of a daughter of God. My second favorite is that of a friend.
Some seasons of life are full of connection – vacations, happy hours, breakfasts, and more. These are my best seasons. These are when I thrive.
The harder ones for me are where my priorities must be reshuffled, and friendship cannot be the most important. This summer I had both. A week-long vacation with some of my best friends gave way to change at work and family health concerns. As hard as I fought to maintain normal relationship rhythms while traveling to and from Cincinnati three times in a month, for up to 6 days at a time, there was distance between me and the friend I so desperate try to be.
In the gap between what I want to be true of me and reality, guilt and shame can take root. I begin to beat myself up for not being the person my friends need me to be. This does not just happen in seasons of lackluster friendships, but in how I spend my money, my work performance, the food I eat, my exercise routine, and anywhere else that I fail to meet my own expectations. In that gap between what I want to be true and what is actually true, if I’m not careful, I let my own feelings of inadequacy breed insecurity and isolate me from those I care about most.
But it doesn’t have to be that way. Regardless of what secondary identities I hold, I can rest in my most important role – Daughter of God.
In Christ, there is no condemnation. There is no place for guilt or shame in the life of a Christ-follower. When I allow these feels to take over, I’m telling Jesus that the work that He did on the cross wasn’t quite enough. There are seasons when I will be a great friend, a great daughter, a great eater, a great runner, a great writer and a great workers. Usually they don’t ever happen at the same time… But, I will never be perfect. And that’s okay. Because my identity is not just that of any of those roles.
When I remember where my identity lies, and I’m in a season of needing grace, because I’m busy and working out isn’t the priority, or because family life brings me to Cincinnati and I’m not in Indianapolis on the weekends, or I’m in the middle of moving and life (and my temper) are all over the place, I can accept the grace that has already been given to me. Only when I remember that I’m first and foremost God’s can I receive the grace I so desperately desire.