Monday, March 30, 2015

Two walks/Two hearts: One God/One Sisterhood

"Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective." James 5: 16. I first read this when I was in the ninth grade. I remember looking at it and thinking why in the world would I want to tell people about the terrible sins I have committed. Why would I want to drag anyone else into what I had done. And why would confessing to each other, rather than to God alone, be something I needed to do. I probably thought about this for ten-fifteen seconds and moved on. I have never been so wrong in my life.

Just two months ago, my life was changed again. Except this was in an exceedingly positive way. I acquired an accountability partner that has stuck by my side since the day we started holding each other accountable on January 19th. I had never really thought about having an accountability partner before the opportunity presented itself. The idea had crossed my mind, but it was certainly never something that had stuck. Yet, I've never been more thankful that it finally did.

One evening in the middle of January, I was enjoying a sleepover with one of my dear friends, and I became incredibly emotional. As I started to sob my eyes out, I distinctly remember crying out for her help. I felt as if I couldn't live anymore. I hadn't given up on God or my faith but it was becoming exceedingly difficult to cope with the boat accident. My flashbacks were increasing, my nightmares were back, and I missed my daddy's guidance and heartfelt hugs more than ever before. I had tried to find distractions, but they were sinful and not aligning with my faith. I was dealing with survivor's guilt which made me angry at myself for living; even more so, I was angry that I was having difficulties. I loved God and wanted to follow Him, but I didn't feel like I could anymore. My thoughts and actions had transformed me into damaged goods and the feelings of unworthiness were too much for me to handle. I confessed that I didn't know how I was going to start over this semester, I didn't know how to get through another six months without him. I certainly had no idea how I was going to do it as a broken, undeserving sinner. Without interrupting she listened to me pour out my heart and suggested a lifestyle change. She told me about something she had learned over the Christmas break, about "quiet time", how she wanted to incorporate it into her life this spring semester, and how she needed an accountability partner with it. She still doesn't realize that it was not her who needed someone to hold her accountable, it was, in fact, I who needed someone to hold me accountable.

Interestingly enough, my accountability partner and I grew up on different continents. Literally. We grew up 6,080 miles apart. One in Old River, Texas the other in Abidjan, the capital of a small country in Africa called Cote d'Ivoire. I say this, because I truly realize there is absolutely no handle on God. If He wants something to happen, by goodness, He will make it happen. This was the first amazing thing I realized when I decided to incorporate "quiet time" into my life.

The second awesome thing I realized about having an accountability partner is the fact that it's NOT someone you report to like a parole officer or someone you tattle to like a small child. It's someone you share your heart with. It's someone you turn to and say, "This is what my heart is feeling. This is what I think I need help on. What do you think? What does the bible say about this?" And as she picks up her bible she says, "Let 's find out together." Having an accountability partner is about growing spiritually with the Lord, about confessing your woes, your troubles, your struggles, your fears, your questions, your sins, and together finding a solution within God's Word. It's not an agenda you have to fulfill each day. It's not a checklist of making sure we are upholding a Christian appearance. It's a lifestyle of pursuing the Lord's Will.

The third uplifting aspect of having an accountability partner is the way in which we have changed our everyday lives to create actions that would be edifying to God. We call it "quiet time" or "Jesus time." It's the time we devote to reading our bible, learning something from God's word, and sharing it with one another every morning. I look forward to sending and receiving these messages every single morning. It's an encouragement that I can count on. I have learned more in the past two months than I think I did in the last year of my own bible readings. I will admit that during the hustle and bustle of life I have often put my bible reading on the back burner. But that's the positive of having my accountability partner, it is something that I am dedicated to. I want to have these talks and discussions about what we each have learned. I find joy in the mornings as I sip my coffee, break open my bible, learn the teachings of my Faith, then share them with my lovely friend.

The fourth beauty I have come to realize of having my accountability partner is how much it reminds me of my dad. There was a daily routine that occurred every evening at the Galloway Household. Dad would come to each of our rooms to say goodnight. In high school, I studied a lot and many times I would be surrounded my tons of schools books, papers, and complete chaos when dad would come to say goodnight. He'd ask me about my classes, tell me he loved me, then he would remind me to say my prayers. Sometimes he would even ask if I'd read my bible that day. Nothing condemning or accusatory. Just a subtle reminder of where my focus should be. I often feel like my dad was my accountability partner growing up. I would share with him things I had learned in my bible readings. I definitely asked a ton of questions, and Dad would always turn to the bible to answer them. It's the same way in my current partnership.

Honestly, it makes me feel normal again to have these moments with my accountability partner. It brings feelings of security, affirmation, and love to share my thoughts, concerns, fears, and joys with someone who also wants to pursue the Lord. Having an accountability partner reminds me that if I am damaged goods, then we all are, because we are all unworthy of God's love and mercy. We are all struggling. None of us deserve Him, yet He still wants us. When we actively pursue Him, He illuminates our paths and leads us towards His goodness. God doesn't want us to be confused and lost. He gave us a Light and His name is Jesus. My accountability partner reminds me of this daily.

As you can tell, I'm very grateful for my accountability partner. I've only touched on a few of the major positives of having this sort of relationship, even though there are a million different, uplifting aspects of it. I'm not telling anyone that they have to have an accountability partner to be a Christian or that this is the only way to actively pursue your faith. I am just sharing a positive influence and lifestyle change in my life that has transformed my approach to bible study, quiet time, and dedicating my life to the Lord.

My accountability partner and I often call our relationship our "soul sisterhood" and I mean what else could you call it? When you grow up on separate continents, live two totally different lifestyles, have two totally dissimilar walks to Christ, yet come together because you are both Jesus-loving college students, you know that God had a plan. I'm thankful to my soul sister for showing me Christ-like love, giving me heartfelt biblical truths, and for always listening to my heart without judgment.

"As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another." Proverbs 27:17

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