Growing up it was hard for me to be real with people. On the surface, it would seem that I was close with others, but in reality I kept everyone at a distance. My “friends” knew the most shallow version of myself and I was okay with that. It meant that I didn’t have to get into sharing the complete mess of who I really was. It was easier to walk through life that way, not having to admit my failures, and pretending that I was a better follower of Jesus than I really was. On the outside, everyone saw a young man living for God, but on the inside I knew I was a slave to my sin. Don’t misunderstand, I wanted to be free from my sin, but I also wanted victory without having to admit that I was currently defeated. I believed I could conquer life’s struggles alone, and somehow I would eventually reach a point of victory in my life from all that I was going through if I just kept fighting.
This all changed one morning when I was sitting with a friend talking casually at Starbucks and he straight-up asked me how my soul was. He asked how I was doing spiritually. He told me to cut the crap and be completely honest about where I was at in my faith, while affirming me that nothing I shared with him would separate our friendship or make him think less of me.
This moment changed everything.
In that moment, my friend was inviting me to be a part of something I had always wanted but never truly had. He was willing to be my “Front Row Friend.” He was asking me to be near him… the type of nearness you’re scared to enter into, but when you finally enter it you never want to go back to the emptiness and loneliness of before. As I sat with him I began to break down crying and my mouth willingly began sharing the reality of where I was REALLY at. The porn, the lust, the masturbation, and the addictions of my life all began to come into the light as I finally understood my vulnerability is not a weakness, but my VULNERABILITY LEADS TO VICTORY. This is why James 5:16 teaches, “...confess your sins to one another, praying for one another that you may be healed.”
This is what it means to have Front Row Friends. They are like a fire. When kept at a distance, you can only see what you desire to feel, but it isn’t until you’re truly near the flame that you actually experience its warmth! In the same way, FRF’s bring light and warmth to my life, inviting me to draw near to the flame of friendship. The more I choose to distance myself from my FRF, the colder, darker, and lonelier my life becomes. However, the more I choose to be near my FRF, the warmer, brighter, and more fulfilling my life is!
FRF are the people in my life I can regularly confess to. They know the DARKEST parts of who I am, and in response they shed the LIGHT of God’s Word into my situation. They are with me in the COLDEST moments of my life and speak the WARMTH of His truth into every circumstance of my journey. They cry with me, they laugh with me, they pray with me, and they love me. The closer I am to them, the more like Jesus I become. So if you’ve been living at a distance, it’s time to choose to be near the flame.