November 18, 2021
Are you the kind of person whose soul gets energized in a room filled with people, enjoying conversations that are too many to count? Or are you the kind of person whose soul is full even if it’s just you, being in the company of one or two friends?
Whichever one you may be, the number doesn’t really matter.
The point I want to make is that you’ve seen and experienced that friendship is a beautiful gift to many of us. It is a gift accompanied by moments filled with joy and sorrow, laughter and weeping, and celebration and grief. It is these very moments that make us realize and utter this phrase:
“I’m grateful for these people.”
But when rubber meets the road and all of a sudden you’re experiencing tension with friends you’ve been journeying with, do you still find yourself uttering the same phrase?
I know I have.
Many times actually. For different reasons.
And let me be honest, it hurt a lot more because I was living with what I didn’t realize were unhealthy mindsets regarding friendship.
Unknowingly, I set expectations that they one day wouldn’t be able to meet. And when that time did come, I took it against them, thinking they were intentionally doing that to hurt me.
I was confidently secure in living my life because I had friends that would always love and accept me—but only as long as we agreed on everything. And when there was any hint of disagreement, fear began to creep in and I thought that our friendship was on its way to the end.
I felt like a soldier with open wounds walking the earth’s battlefield (if you want a more detailed picture, imagine a soldier who had just lost her arm and leg).
Whenever I came across another wounded comrade, I would extend help. Because deep down, out of my own heart, I only ever wanted to prove that I was enough. Yet, I was only putting pressure on my own wounds, causing me to bleed all over them.
I had to learn the hard way that just because this gift of friendship is God-given and beautiful, it didn’t mean that it would be an easy one to care for.
Things that are of worth won’t ever be easy to guard from the evil and brokenness in this world.
In love and with so much grace, we as God’s children, are not left to our own devices.
In love and with so much grace, God can redeem broken mindsets and relationships.
We are called to steward well the gifts God gave, and we can only do this when we allow Him to guide us and transform the way we live our lives. It starts when the renewal of minds takes place—when we open up His word, read it, and live by it.
And so to you who’s reading this, whether it’s living the word out or simply opening up your eyes to see it being lived out by others, I hope that these lessons I learned over time and that were drawn from the word of God will also help you steward the gift of friendship well.
Healthy friendships create a space for everyone to freely speak their minds.
In 1 Samuel 20:1–4, a heated conversation was taking place between close friends Jonathan and David. It was brought about by panic and fear when King Saul (Jonathan’s father) tried to take David’s life.
It was only natural for David to want to hold Jonathan accountable for his father’s actions and for Jonathan to get very close to being defensive. And so they freely spoke what was on their minds, even if they were driven by emotion.
Though Jonathan disagreed with David’s accusation, he still did acknowledge what David felt, which allowed them to move towards a resolution.
Do we have that space in our friendships today?
Healthy friendships create a safe space for everyone to bare their hearts.
In this world, we are told to “hold it all in” or “keep it together” because any sign of vulnerability meant that you were weak.
In 1 Samuel 20:41, there was another instance where David and Jonathan displayed vulnerability with one another. Being vulnerable to others doesn’t make you lose your sense of dignity. If anything, vulnerability has the ability to strengthen and deepen the trust between friends.
When was the last time we were vulnerable to our friends?
Healthy friendships happen when we carry each other’s burdens together.
Four friends were ready to fight their way through a crowd, remove a rooftop, and deliver their paralyzed friend at the very feet of Jesus. You can find this in Mark 2. Iy is a literal picture of what it looks like for friends to help carry each other’s burdens.
A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.
What makes a trial/suffering bearable is when our friends show up and carry the load with us. It’s true, they might not have the power to control and to change our situation, but carrying the load and helping us direct it towards the One who is in control is in itself what a friend should and would do.
Many times, we’d rather keep our mouths shut and journey through it alone because it’d be “too much of a hassle” if we involve another person in our struggles. But, it is part of God’s design for us to be there for each other and stand by one another because man was not created to be alone, but to walk with others.
When was the last time we’ve shared in the burdens of our friends willingly and even joyfully?
Healthy friendships happen when we speak the truth in love.
It’s one thing to call out simply to highlight a person’s mistakes, and it’s another to call out our friends with the best in mind and in the right manner.
Many times, hearing what we need to hear may hurt our pride. However, if we take a step back and look at the bigger picture, the truth is good for our souls in the long run.
To speak the truth in love allows us to experience freedom and healing. When we get a taste of this, we open ourselves up to discovering who we were truly created to be in Christ—that is, unique and with a purpose.
It’s good to reevaluate, to check our hearts and our relationships.
The reality is that not all friendships will look like this, not all friendships will apply all these truths.
You might be able to identify some of these truths in your friendships, but in others, probably not.
Does that mean we cut off these other friendships?
No. All the more that we should be this kind of friend to others, loving the way Christ did. He perfectly exemplifies this love for his friends by laying down His life for them.
He has proven on the Cross that He’s willing to go through great lengths to demonstrate that nothing can separate us from His love. And, as difficult as it is to follow through in lifestyle for us, it’s worth it to love like Him.
Why? Because through this love, we can experience healing, freedom, and, ultimately, an intimate relationship with Him.
I hope we can extend God’s love in Christ to our friends so that the world can see what healthy friendships look like.