Real Friendship - Trillia
I want to share a little about one of the women who taught me so much on my path to getting real.
Trillia Newbell is a writer friend who became an “in-real-life” friend several years ago when she moved here to the Nashville area. She graciously wrote the Foreword to Real, and is one of my dearest friends, church sisters, and the person most likely to ask me to exercise with her (even though she knows I’ll probably say no).
If you read Real, you’ll learn more about many of the women God graciously put in my life to encourage and grow me. But I wanted to share a short excerpt from Chapter 6. It’s about Trillia and how God used her greatly in my life. I hope this is helpful for those wondering, “How can I find someone else who will be real with me?” Sometimes it’s just a matter of persistence and a willingness to let things be a little awkward. I’m so thankful she did that for me.
Where Do I Start?
I am an introvert. I cannot handle lots of people for long periods of time. My idea of a dream vacation is myself, alone, in a hotel room. But thankfully, the Lord has given me two dear friends who pull me out of myself. One of these friends moved to my town a few years ago, and we immediately started spending regular time together. After the first few occasions, I noticed that whenever we met up she would ask, “How’s your heart?”
The first couple of times I just said, “Oh, good, I think. Yeah. Nothing much going on.” And then I turned it back on her and she told me some of the things she was struggling with. She eventually commented on how I was so laid back and must just not be dealing with much. She thought my marriage was perfect. She thought my kids must be angels.
Well, I didn’t want to give her the wrong idea about things, so eventually I started preparing on my way to meet her, trying to figure out what I would say when she asked me. While my motivation was wrong, the effect was so good. I started actually examining my heart, praying for sin to be revealed, and then confessing it to another person. I had always analyzed everything around me, but tended to neglect my own heart.
The benefits of this friendship started to affect my other relationships. I was more open with my husband about my struggles because I was actually putting a name to them. I was quicker to admit failure and sin to other friends. And I was learning to hate those sins because I had spoken them aloud.
Vulnerability takes time and trust. I could trust my friend because I had spent time with her. I knew she cared about me. And I saw her own willingness to be vulnerable.
It takes time and trust—but it is worth it. Because ultimately, in relationship with other Spirit-filled, grace-loving believers, confession isn’t about judgment and guilt—it’s an opportunity to rejoice in the gospel.
Pastor Jack Miller writes of a Ugandan church that has “an unusual honesty in confessing their sins, and as a consequence the whole church has been filled with great joy. In practice this means that a grim-faced brother may be stopped on the street and asked by his fellow Christian, ‘My brother, have you confessed your sins today? Have you seen the cross of Christ today?’”
When we identify sin in our lives, we can’t keep carrying it around. We must take it to the cross and leave it there.
If we’re serious about doing repentance in community—about digging deep and supporting one another as we seek to walk in the light—we need to think about how best to go about it. Maybe as you’re reading this, you’re thinking of a friend or two whom you could ask to join you in this vulnerable endeavor.
But be warned: the Enemy doesn’t want you to follow through. He would love for you to read this, think, “Oh, I should do that,” and then either forget or downplay the need. Would you pray now that you would have the courage to seek out and build this kind of community? I promise you won’t regret it.
For more on what these relationships look like on a practical level, check out the podcast I recorded with Christine Hoover. She asked some great questions (some I’d never thought of that were really challenging), and gave great input on this topic.