I was about 15 years old when I became serious about my relationship with God. By age 19, I was a youth leader at my church and by age 20, I was leading a campus ministry.
My church had just planted a satellite location about 25 miles away from my college campus. Eager to help the church branch out into the community, I readily accepted when the pastor invited me to lead an on-campus ministry.
Within a few weeks of being on campus, we had a small core group of about 10-15 members and things were things great. I was growing, serving, leading and forming new friendships, and I was excited about our group. However, the following Fall, the church’s attendance began to wean and by the following Spring, the church decided to close its doors. When I returned the next Fall, I was no longer a ministry leader and there was no more campus ministry. The girls and guys from the group continued to hang out but things had changed and nothing seemed to be the same.
That Fall, I also entered into my first and only college relationship.
I was a Resident Assistant (RA) and within months, I found myself in love with a fellow RA on staff. In romantic bliss, the relationship began to consume all of my free time and I began to change. When I wasn’t studying or attending some sort of campus event, I was either–with my boyfriend, on my way to see my boyfriend, or on the phone with my boyfriend to tell him I was on my way to see him. I was falling in love fast and over time, my relationship soon became the beginning of a railroad collision between my purity, faith and temptation.
Soon he was spending nights in my room and I in his. At first we were just two kids sleeping in different rooms but within months, curiosity took over and after a year of dating, my message of purity was as good as dust. I remember waking up and not even recognizing myself anymore. I thought to myself “how did the girl who was once president of a campus ministry end up here?”
On the outside, I appeared to have it all together but on the inside I was struggling.
For so long, I was the person responsible for leading others but when the church ministry ended, I no longer had anyone to help lead me. I had no sense of accountability; no one to process life with me; and no one to share in my thoughts and prayers.
My relationship with my boyfriend was heating up and I was contemplating sex with no one to talk to. Moreover, I had no one to confide in without being judged. I had grown so accustomed to others approaching me for help but when I began to struggle there was no one around to help me. I felt so alone and isolated, and I certainly couldn’t tell all of these things to my boyfriend because he was just as lost as me.
Feeling the weight of the world to be perfect; to live flawlessly and to have it together, I developed dark secrets that existed only between me and the dark. In the day time, I was Erika, the campus leader and the perfect Christian girl who scored 3.0s every semester. But at night, I was the girl slipping away from God and into bed with her boyfriend.
On the inside, it hurt and felt so wrong but I had no one to be real with so my sin became my escape.
That experience taught me one thing: Christianity requires community. Christianity was never meant to be journeyed in isolation; and we were never meant to live in isolated Christian bubbles. We need friends and peers who welcome and encourage our transparency. Like me, being the only saved one in your group can begin as an honorable feeling but it soon becomes a burden if you have no one to turn to, especially when you’re in the midst of life’s storms and temptations.
The word says “iron sharpens iron and a friend sticks closer than brother” (Proverbs 27:17; Proverbs 18:24). In life we need friends to be our iron and to stick close to us. Even the President of United States has a Vice President; a King has a Queen; and Jesus had disciples. Having Christ-minded people around us that we trust, keeps us encouraged to follow God. When we don’t have that support, it becomes easy to fall into traps and develop dark habits with even darker secrets. Sex, lying, cheating, stealing…all of the things that seem far-fetched soon become stairways to temptation when we do life in isolation.
Today, I share my story to encourage you to get a friend. In fact, get a close group of friends. If you’re the only person in your circle of friends who’s serious about his/her walk with God, join a new group and make new friends. We need accountability and need community. Furthermore, we need someone to hold us up when we’re tired from holding everyone else up.
A few points to ponder:
- Who’s your crew?
- Who keeps you accountable?
- Who can you be real with?
- Who adds strain to your relationship with God?
Pressure bursts pipes. The people around you need your pipes to function. The stuff inside of you is valuable. Others need that stuff to pour into their lives and impact their world. When you’re stressed out, you get clogged-up by life’s challenges. You burst and the world never gets to feel your impact.
Perhaps can relate to my story and you have a few dark isolated areas that you could use some light. If so, I encourage you to find a friend to confide in. Get out of isolation and begin to build your community. When you do that, everyone around you (including yourself) benefits. You become better. You become stronger and you become the man & woman who God has called you to be.
“two are better than one…they can help each other succeed.”