One of the greatest challenges I have faced in life is friendship and acceptance! Yes, the friends I had around me at a time almost marred my life. At some point, I was so deep into sin that I thought it would be impossible for me to be redeemed. Somehow, along the line, I began to drop some of the habits and characters I picked up from God-knows-where.
But I discovered that my friends failed to see the change in me even when I knew I had dropped the habits. To them, I was still the old me and because of that I began to doubt my own change. In no time, I was back to square one. This went on for some time and almost ruined my life completely. I was so desperate for my friends to accept me that I began to see myself as the odd man amidst them.
There was a time I was chatting with a female friend, making her see reasons why she should drop some things we used to do together. She replied, “Come on, forget that thing. Is it not you that I know?” I almost felt bad but I replied, “You KNEW me, dear. You don’t KNOW me.”
One day, while studying the scriptures, I came across a portion where King David said to God, “against you alone have I sinned.” (Psalm.51:4) Wow! Immediately, I realized that I owed no one any explanations. They could keep seeing the old me and it wouldn’t bug me for a moment because I saw the me that God saw. So when I talk to them and they refuse to believe that I had changed, I would simply smile and say, “I have nothing to prove to you.”
It is true that your repentance or change must be visible to blind and audible to the deaf but do not forget that there are some who will still choose to relate with you based on what they knew. All that matters is that you right your ways with God and remain in good standing with Him. Let your mind be focused on grooming the new you instead of bothering yourself with what your friends will think of, or say about, you.
Your case may not be a matter of the spirit. You may be trying to quit a horrible habit but you just can’t, for fear of what your accomplices will think of you. Forget them, change! They won’t defend you in heaven or before men!
If you find the pressure too much, instead of going back like I did, simply pick a mental sieve, put all your friends in it and vigorously shake it. Any friend who doesn’t believe you can become a better person isn’t worth keeping. Don’t be discouraged. Don’t feel odd. Don’t feel embarrassed. Keep fueling the engine of your newman.
Yes, you used to lie, fornicate, smoke, drink, collect bribes, cheat, abort pregnancies, kill people and commit other heinous crimes but you have changed but the people around you are making you feel like you haven’t changed.
Your friends say, “Is it not you that we know? Better stop deceiving yourself.” God’s word says, “In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace.” (Eph. 1:7)
Whose report will you believe?
Writer: Emmanuel Ujiadughele