Break-Ups and Friends

There’s an inevitable awkwardness when two friends break-up, depending on the type of relationship you had with each person before they were together. Sometimes you only know someone because they were “so and so’s boyfriend/girlfriend,” so you simply revert back to the friendship you had before they were “so and so’s boyfriend/girlfriend.” Yet, it becomes a harder battleground when both of them, on their own, were solid friends with you before they started dating. So what do you do when the relationship goes south?

1. Awkwardness Exists

The Mutual Friend: You will feel the awkwardness of a change. Don’t expect not to. Your friends’ relationship was something that was a part of your understanding of them both, and now it’s not. You’re also acutely aware that both have mixed feelings about the whole thing, and there isn’t too much you can do about it.

The Ex-Couple: Acknowledge that it’s strange and speak about what’s helpful for your friends with your friends. If you don’t want them asking you about your ex, then don’t ask your friend about your ex. However, also acknowledge that they have a friendship with your ex, and don’t become bitter towards them for that.

In speaking about your relationship and ex aim to do so with compassion and graciousness. It’ll make your friends feel less consumed by concern about treading on your toes in an already awkward situation.

As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. – Ephesians 4:1-3

2. Set Realistic Time-Frames and/or Boundaries

The Mutual Friend: When friends breakup they’ll likely need some time away from each other’s company so that they can deal with what they’re feeling as well as readjusting to being single.

The Ex-Couple: Set a realistic time-frame for your friends, whether you share it with them or not, for when you’ll rejoin social gatherings that your ex has been invited to. If you’re only keen to come to large gatherings, tell your friend that. If you need extra moral support for social gatherings, and will struggle to enjoy the time if there isn’t more than one person you know, tell your friend that.

However, also remember that friends have feelings as well. Don’t use your bitterness towards your ex as an excuse to avoid maintaining the relationships with your mutual friends.

See to it that no one falls short of the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many. – Hebrews 12:15

3. Do Not Expect or Encourage Friends to Choose Sides

The Mutual Friend: Do not pick a side just because it’s easier to know what ground to tread. You’ll likely find yourself validating thoughts and feelings that you shouldn’t. Aim to avoid any conversation on “why” so that you aren’t tempted to build your own opinions on someone else’s relationship.

The Ex-Couple: When people are hurt at the ending of a relationship, there’s the urge to encourage mutual friends to “pick” someone. Irrespective of if you tell the friend why you broke up, don’t expect them to ditch the ex as their friend regardless of who you feel is at fault.

If you are legitimately concerned about their behaviour take it up with someone in leadership.

Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,”says the Lord. – Romans 12:17-19

4. Act like a follower of Christ

Mutual Friends and Ex-Couples: Your ex and your Christian friends are all a part of the body of Christ. They’re also brothers and sisters too. All are called to imitate Christ in how they act and speak. Although in the messiness of breakups, people are often subject to their sin, we should aim to encourage one another in thought, action and speech as ones who have been saved by Christ.

Do not imitate what is evil but what is good. Anyone who does what is good is from God. Anyone who does what is evil has not seen God. – 3 John 11

For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ. He died for us so that, whether we are awake or asleep, we may live together with him.Therefore encourage one another and build each other up… – 1 Thessalonians 5: 9-11



Plates vs. Dates

Once upon a time I went to lunch every fortnight with a Christian boy.. on our own.. together. Sounds really romantic right? Except, it wasn’t a date and we never thought it was.

My friend and I became friends just after he became a Christian. We lived on college so we hung out together on a regular basis. When I moved away from college, I was working three jobs and studying full-time. I missed the regularity of hanging out with my friend, when we weren’t in a crowd of other friends and knowing where we were at in life.

So we set up a fortnightly catch-up. But then a weird thing happened. As soon as I told other Christians, who didn’t know me or my friend that well, that I had gone to lunch with my male friend, they’d ask if we were dating. When I told them we weren’t, they questioned my/his motives and left me feeling bewildered about hanging out with my friend.

Just because something looks similar to another thing, doesn’t mean that it’s the same. Contrary to what these people assumed, Christian males and females, can have platonic relationships that aren’t novel. That is, it isn’t special or unique. It isn’t unrequited love blossoming. It is a friendship.

However, much like dating, being platonic friends should be intentional. The year we started going on plates (platonic lunch dates), kicked off with my friend speaking to me about a conversation he’d had with someone who was pastoring him. He was challenged to make sure he wasn’t leading his female friends on. So, he took the advice to heart, and made it clear that when we hung out together, particularly on our own, that I was his sister in Christ and his friend. Nothing more.

When your opposite sex friends are honest with you, be honest with them and yourself.

If I had a crush on my male friend, and believed that our time together was a conduit for anything more; I would have told him then and there. If intentions are being set, then set them clearly.

Here lies a danger. When we’re being told that our desire isn’t another’s, we don’t want to say anything.. just in case.

The quality of our friendship and his honesty, meant that it was safe for me to be honest. And, if you’re comfortable in a friendship, it should be safe too. As Christians, we know that no one is devoid of worldly desires. We all struggle with different things and we shouldn’t pretend that we don’t. Therefore, it should be safe to share how you feel with someone who is your friend; particularly if they are a Christian.

Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. – Colossians 3: 12-14

If you’re being told that someone doesn’t share the same intentions as you, don’t respond unkindly. Your friend shouldn’t be worried about losing their friendship with you because of two different desires. However, do think of a clear way forward that protects their heart.

I never fell in love with my friend, anymore than him being my friend and brother. But I was never fearful of losing his friendship either.

But think of the children! 

As Christians we also need to be aware about causing other people to stumble. We do this by being wise in the areas that they struggle with. Whenever I talked about spending time with my male friend, I referred to our time where we went to lunch as a plate. People would ask what the heck that was, and I’d explain it. I made our intentions clear, so that others weren’t mislead by what we were doing. If they questioned my friend’s motives, I told them to go ask him.

Be careful, however, that the exercise of your rights does not become a stumbling block to the weak. For if someone with a weak conscience sees you, with all your knowledge, eating in an idol’s temple, won’t that person be emboldened to eat what is sacrificed to idols? – 1 Corinthians 8:9-10

But what if this intention changes?

Our plates continued well into the years that lead after. I honestly believe that if you’re really friends with someone, to the point you enjoy spending time together, then you should speak up when your intentions change.

The key difference to a plate and a date are your intentions. 

You wouldn’t like a covert date where the other person thought it was, and you didn’t. So, if you want your plates to be dates, you need to tell the other person. If they don’t want plates to be dates, then you should reconsider what your plates look like.

Christian girls can be just friends with boys. Christian boys can be just friends with girls. However, be clear and honest about what your time together is because a plate does not equal a date.


A Response: A TRANS-Faith Friendship

This blog post is written by Bryson in response to  A Christian & A Trans* Friend. He wanted the opportunity to respond through Education in Living Water.


Almost daily, I see, hear, or read something put forward by a ‘Christian’, or ‘Christian’ group criticising the ‘gay agenda’, suggesting that educating kids about the diversity of sexuality and gender is harming them, likening us to pedophiles and Nazis, and other such harmful sentiments.

I use quotation marks, because I know that these people aren’t really Christian, because they’re not behaving in a loving way. Christianity as I see those close to me practise it looks very different. Even so, it can be hard to remember this at times.

Pretty soon after meeting Emma, she knew that I was queer, and I knew that she was Christian. Admittedly, at first I wasn’t sure how we could be friends. I had read and heard so many sad stories about lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people feeling alienated and rejected by their friends and family due to a conflict between their identities and the beliefs of their loved ones. Although I’d never experienced this myself, I was still afraid.

However, it soon became clear that I had nothing to worry about with Emma. We had so much more in common than what we disagreed upon. We shared a love of music, junk food, coffee, and Disney movies. We still do. But we don’t just stick to the small stuff, or talk about the same old things. Emma and I have had many interesting conversations over the years, about politics, sexuality, religion, music, work, family, etc. Obviously, it’s this kind of friendship that you can count on in difficult times.

One of the most difficult times in my life occurred when I started to seriously consider that I might be transgender. There were a lot of other things I was struggling with, too, but the gradual realisation that I could no longer live as a girl was the most personal. I didn’t feel I could tell anyone, even my partner at the time.

Eventually, I did tell Emma. She responded with kindness and honesty, which is how she responds to most things (when she’s not being sarcastic, that is!). I don’t remember much about that time in my life, as there was a lot going on. However, suffice to say that if Emma hadn’t responded as she did, it would have taken a lot longer for me to begin telling others, and to get where I am today. She got the ball rolling, so to speak.

It’s difficult to overstate the imperative of transition for many trans people. Transitioning reduces, if not eliminates, depression and anxiety. Unfortunately, it’s very common for trans people to attempt suicide. Personally, I reached a point where I felt I would rather die than continue living as a girl.

Even so, I was afraid that others wouldn’t understand the need for me to transition, particularly Emma. Almost all my other friends were either part of the LGBT community themselves, or very old friends. In hindsight, my fears seem ridiculous, but that’s often the nature of fear. At one point, I asked Emma how she could support my transition. She answered that she would rather ‘an alive Bryson than a dead friend’. It was then that I understood that Emma knew how important this was, and I feel that only made our friendship stronger.

I’ve often thought about how, for some other friends, this kind of thing could be impossible to overcome. Unfortunately, there are Christians who fail to recognise what Emma did – that not to treat LGBT people as PEOPLE first, often whose identity is very closely tied to their sexuality and gender identity – is directly harmful, and serves to create the impression that Christians only see LGBT people as sinners whose agenda needs to be stopped.

Obviously, this is untrue, as Emma has shown me. I will always be grateful for her support and friendship, and hope she knows that she will always have mine.


A Christian & A Trans* Friend

It’s great that you can still be friends with them.

Maybe you should be taking a boy with you.

Isn’t that weird?

Just under five years ago, I became friends with a chick at college who is now a dude I’m still friends with. Bryson and I bonded over his posters of Obama and Matchbox Twenty hanging in his college room during the first week that we moved in. We remained firm friends who went to the movies, ate chocolate, studied and enjoyed each other’s company.

However, towards the middle of second semester, Bryson disappeared from college. No one knew where he was, and I was worried. I called everyday with no answer. Until, at a fateful 2am, Bryson appeared online and replied to my message. Bryson told me that he was struggling with his gender identity and that at least some part of him wanted to be a guy. He felt confused and just didn’t know what to do. He apologised profusely for telling me.

How did I respond?

I didn’t run around and quote the Bible. I didn’t tell Bryson that he was going to hell. I didn’t line up my pitchfork.

Why…? Christians are called to love others in the midst of their pain and suffering. What my friend needed was someone to listen. I had spent three months worried about him, and he had being going through tough stuff alone.

What he needed was a friend. A friend who didn’t dismiss the significance of his suffering because it wasn’t something the Christian community sees as God’s plan.

A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for a time of adversity. ~ Proverbs 17:17

But you did tell him he’s a big trans* sinner, right?

Not that day, nor the days that followed after.

Christians need to be aware that being transgender and transitioning is a highly emotionally driven decision. Unhelpfully, I had people telling me it was great that I could still be friends with him. As if someone being trans* is a reason to stop being friends.

If Christians were to stop talking to anyone we thought were sinners, we’d talk to no-one… including ourselves.

As it is written: “There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands; there is no one who seeks God…” – Romans 3: 10-11

I still remember having a rather sad friend who was sitting on my floor [slightly intoxicated] telling me how much he hated himself. To tell Bryson that his choice is wrong, when my faith is not his own, would be for me to tell him I’d prefer the alternative path he was heading down before transitioning.

I prefer an alive Bryson to a dead friend. An all too real alternative that Christians should not forget.

A few years later we talked about identity and how my identity was in Christ; not the way others perceived me. This didn’t lead from a conversation where I presumed that Bryson had made a decision to transition into a dude, because he simply wanted others to see him that way – but one  about what made us, “us,” and where we believed our identity came from.

Christians also need to realise that the decisions that we would make are different to that a non-Christian makes. We believe in living lives for God, and should not begrudge and belittle non-Christians for not doing the same. Bryson knows the Gospel and has his own views on life.

Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. – Colossians 3:1-3

As Christians, we are called to be witnesses of Christ and to show his love.

If you actually want someone to believe that God is loving whilst being friends with someone who is trans*, then the best way to do that is to actually be a friend.

Save any recommendations for when they bring it up or decide to be a Christian. People who are trans* deserve to have such a large decision dealt with appropriately, rather than someone steamrolling them with advice that is not appropriate for where they’re at. Gender dysphoria is a legitimate psychological issue which is handled differently by each person much like the depression and anxiety that manifests alongside it. Words carry weight, and need to be spoken thoughtfully.

Let’s be clear. I love my friend regardless of the pronouns he uses, the clothes he wears and the legal documents he changed. And you should love him too.

What if I come across someone who’s trans*?

  1. Don’t run away, dodge them or ignore them. Say hi.
  2. Get to know them.
  3. Be aware that those who are trans* may have been burnt by other Christians.
  4. When they are comfortable, ask questions to understand not to argue.
  5. Use the pronouns they identify by. This is something loving to do. Much like not calling your friends names that they don’t like. Apologise for when you forget.
  6. Don’t just view them as someone to convert.

Today, Bryson has changed a lot from the chick I met in my first year. He has a new name, his ID card now matches his face, and he’s had a chest reconstruction. He’s much happier and we still go to the movies, eat chocolate and enjoy each other’s company. We talk about Christianity, we talk about transgender identity and we understand that we are two different people who still like Obama and Matchbox Twenty.

I would encourage you to listen, learn and love. Speak graciously and wisely. Pray honestly. And don’t disregard the trans* community, their feelings, their struggles and their choices, because loving them first is the most loving thing to do.


Future Me’s Problem

People often presume that being organised is something that you just are, rather than something you become. We presume that these kind of traits are inherent to the way we are born, rather than something that we learn. This means, that whenever people are challenged to be more organised they argue that they “just aren’t that way.” However, I’d argue that these kinds of people have the wrong view of the purpose of being organised.

My first year of university, and my final year were variably different in how I organised myself. In my first year, I didn’t fly by the seat of my pants through my course, but I didn’t exactly plan my time well. The amount of effort I put into managing my commitments was minimal.

Past me, happily went through my first year of uni knowing when my assessments were due but not really doing anything about them until just before they were due. I’d ‘save’ all my readings (that I needed to do for my assignments) until mid-semester break and do them all over a week – only then to need to do the same thing again two weeks before semester ended.

Similarly, when I started working four days a week in my first year, I’d put off doing anything because I was tired, wanted to spend time with my friends, had other events on, wanted to watch a movie or any other form of procrastination. These habits continued onto my second year, where life wasn’t so cruisy. I had a car accident and a close relative of mine was diagnosed with the early stages of cancer. My procrastination when things were okay, meant that when things were rubbish, I fell far behind.

It became difficult to commit to anything outside of uni work within those weeks of assessments. I’d prioritise finishing my assignments rather than going to church, bible study or 1-1s. Yet, I’d not have a problem with bailing on assessments for movie trips, naps or watching copious amounts of TV.

I learnt that putting more effort in to make sure I managed my responsibilities meant that the more hectic life got the less likely I was to be overwhelmed. I was able to end semester with next to nothing to do, and didn’t dump “extra” commitments like ministry.

Future me is unlikely to want to do what present me is putting off.

There will always be things that you cannot deal with by being organised, but you’ll save yourself a lot of hassle if you stop pretending that it’s just something you can’t be.

Don’t put things off for tomorrow, that you can do today.






Time to Quit

When I finished my undergrad I headed into a Youth Worker position that I was looking forward to. However, I soon came to realise that it was time to quit.

The job I accepted was working a 24/7 roster with children in residential care. For those of you who don’t know what residential care is, it is a care arrangement for children who have been removed from their families by the state welfare services. These kids often have aggressive behaviours and significant emotional regulation issues.

As I said, I was keen for this work. It paid, and it was challenging enough that I wouldn’t get bored. For the first four months of my job I enjoyed it. There were a few downs with clients who were just perpetually angry (and violent).

The start of my job was easy. I was able to turn down working when I had Bible study on, and to take two weeks off for mission. During university holidays, I dealt reasonably well with long shifts where I’d sleepover at work and with some of the more violent shifts. Yet when uni rolled around, the flexibility I needed slowly ebbed away.

Eventually, I began being asked to work when I already had made myself “unavailable.” I also began working with a client that was becoming increasingly violent. I was managing a full-time course load at university and was working no less that 21 rostered hours (but upward of 50 with sleepover shifts). It wasn’t until I had three weeks away from work, that I realised it was time to go.

I’m not one to shirk responsibilities I’ve taken on, irrespective of how much I like them. So why did I choose to leave?

In my previous blog post, I mentioned that we are workers for Christ. Our life is a sacrifice for God, and we must be prepared to live a life that pleases God. Our work AND lives must glorify Him.

Whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him ~ Colossians 3:17

This means acknowledging God’s sovereignty in our jobs. We have jobs to live, and are not to live for our jobs. Jobs support us for worldly responsibilities like paying rent and feeding ourselves, but are not our purpose in life. God is.

Lord, the God of our ancestors, are you not the God who is in heaven? You rule over all the kingdoms of the nations. Power and might are in your hand, and no one can withstand you. ~ 2 Chronicles 20:6

If God is sovereign, it also means that what we do not only at work but our spare time matters to Him.

The major issue of my job was that it was pushing me towards living for work. I was being encouraged to use my time outside of work for more work, and the emotional toil of working with troubled children alongside uni was pushing my spare time further away from God.

I became less inclined to meet regularly for bible reading. I struggled to maintain relationships, not just with my Christian friends but also other (just as important) non-Christian friends. I was tired and didn’t feel like reading my Bible and felt constantly pressed for time.

Meeting regularly, loving our brothers and sisters, loving our friends and growing in God’s word are all important. It wasn’t until I stopped to breathe, that I realised I was overwhelmed by my work. My job consumed my life, and left little space for God.

What did I do?

Well, I checked my contract and gave my minimum notice for resignation. I left without a job lined up, but knowing that it was a good choice.

…there is but one God, the Father, from whom all things came and for whom we live; and there is but one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom all things came and through whom we live. ~ 1 Corinthians 8:6



A Forgotten Blog. A Choice and A Degree

What can I say? After August I hit the mid-Internship chaos and traded blogging for sleep. Let’s just say that internship had it’s great moments, and some downs. The six drafts from that time, may be posted … one day.

Over a year has passed, and I’ve taught in China, been to New Zealand and Singapore, scored a new job, resigned and got another, chosen to stay in Newcastle and enrolled in a new (nearly finished) degree. Given my intended purpose for this blog, I think it’s worth ignoring my trips overseas and sharing why I chose to stay in Newcastle, find another job and do a Masters degree online.

At the start of 2015, I asked someone at my church if I should stay in Newcastle another year. The answer I was given wasn’t a simple yes or no; but a question which asked me to reflect on my ability at that time to go out, not as a new teaching graduate, but as a worker for Christ.

Was I prepared and equipped to leave the Newcastle community, and live with teaching not as my number one priority? 

At the time, it was easy to convince myself to stay. On the surface, because I wanted to “grow”; in reality, if I chose to stay in Newcastle, I’d just enroll in my Masters degree and continue through with my job at the uni. I could just take my graduate position after my Masters was done. Easy peasy. No real rocks to the boat and clearly, not an honest answer to the question I was posed.

However, by the end of 2015 it wasn’t such an easy choice and I was actually challenged to make hard decisions (for reals this time). The uni changed the Masters program and I wasn’t able to enroll. This meant I couldn’t continue with my university job. I’d committed to staying in Newcastle, because it was the easy option. Yet now, I had to really ask myself, was I prepared to leave and go out as a worker for Christ?

Such a choice, particularly based on work, requires you to check your motives. To be a worker for Christ, your priority in moving on actually needs to be with serving Christ because as Christians, our whole life is a sacrifice to God (moving, jobs, dreams, careers.. all of it).

….In view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind…. ~ Romans 12: 1-2

Was I prepared to serve God in such a massive way? Given my sinfulness of choosing to stay in the first place, it was a resounding no.

I eventually came to realise that to stay, I was going to need to do my Masters online AND look for a new job. Neither one of these was a happy prospect. Studying online is hard, and means you can’t be superfluous about being on top of uni; nor does having a “normal” (non-student job) allow you to use uni as a reason to avoid work. When you also factor in making time for church and loving those around you, it becomes this abysmal cavern of low ambiguity and high organisation. It requires effort and actual thought — which is exhausting.

The choices that I made were not the ones I wanted, nor particularly liked. Yet it gave me all of 2016 to grow and work on placing God as sovereign in all parts of my life.