By their very nature, friendships morph and change. Why? Because of life changes like moves, births, deaths, marriages, sickness, graduations, aging. Sometimes friendships just get interrupted for a time and then resume again like nothing ever happened. We need to be flexible with our friends. What do I mean by this? I mean that we must accommodate change. If your good friend begins to be a good friend to someone else, then you should flex with it. Understand it. Be patient over it. Give it to God. Don’t fret or worry over it. Give her space. Just think about being constant yourself. So that, if your friend comes back later, she will find that you haven’t changed at all. You are still her friend, anytime, anyway.
Now this runs contrary to our fleshly tendencies. We want to feel hurt and we may be truly justified in feeling hurt if a friend fails us. But if we don’t respond quickly to those feelings, they will morph into ugly things like resentment, pride, jealousy, or envy. And those nasties will infest themselves into every corner of our lives if we don’t chase them away first thing.
The Bible tells us to be wise in our friendships, to be careful, but not paranoid about making friends. Here are a couple of cautions. Beware the friend who is too emotionally dependent on you (or on whom you are too emotionally dependent). This is not a healthy friendship, and when it ends, it will be painful. Beware of fast friends. When you make friends too quickly, you may find out all too soon that the friend is neither trustworthy nor faithful. Beware of friends who flatter you.Â They may be looking for something that you can’t give them. Proverbs is full of wise advice on friend-making. Don’t be friends with an angry man (22:24); choose your friends with care (12:16).
But in spite of these cautions, you must still extend yourself and give yourself away. If you want to play it 100% safe, you won’t have any friends at all. Rather be a friend and expose yourself to the danger of being disappointed in your friends, than insulate yourself and never risk anything at all.
When friends let you down, this is a good opportunity to think about the kind of friend you have been. Have you ever let anyone down? Have you nursed resentments toward others? Have you been a friend who sticks?
10 thoughts on “A Friend Sticks”
Okay, more to think about and start searching all the corners of our heart to look for these things.
If you can, can you address how we can help our daughters in this area? We just recently switched from homeschooling our 9 year old to putting her into a classical Christian school. We have been used to her being outgoing and friendly and sure of herself. I have noticed she is having trouble in this area. I plan on taking her out on a date today to talk to her. She has been feeling unsure of herself. She is struggling with a young lady who won’t talk to her and “ignores” her. Not on all the kids who go to school are from our church so she is having to learn how to make friends outside of her little circle (which is VERY important). So I’m asking the Lord for wisdom in helping my daughter. When I was young, I moved around a lot, from country to country and school to school. It felt like I was always the new kid in class. I never learned how to cope well and I was never taught to. So….. trying to use those experiences now to help my sweet girl.
A subset of this subject is helping our daughters to be friends with each other. Learning how to share mom’s attention, etc. If you have time can you write about that?
Thank you for your posts! I am thankful for you ministry to us. This one was an encouragement and convicting.
I would love to “hear” words of wisdom regarding helping siblings to love each other and to be the best of friends.
This post is good, and comes at a perfect time for me. Thanks.
Since we’re making requests, I hope you don’t mind if mine is unrelated to this subject. Can you suggest some polite ways to deal with small talk after church? Sometimes talking to people after church is my biggest fear. When they ask how I’m doing, I am obligated either to lie by saying that I’m well when I am not, or to be honest, awkward, and curt. I don’t want to talk about it, and the questioner doesn’t really want to know (although it’s possible he or she genuinely cares). I often have the overwhelming urge to exit as quickly as possible, avoiding eye contact, and making a beeline for my car, which I know is a rude, sinful refusal to participate in community.
Does anyone have suggestions?
Hi! Just stopping by from “surfing” the blogosphere this morning. Great post on friendship and some interesting comments here. CG: What if you make the first move and take control of the conversation. That way you can steer the talk in the direction you want it to go. Blessings!
CG, I can tell you what’s helped me — meditating on the love of Christ. Sounds obvious, but I notice that it’s actually quite difficult to do when my heart is in a knot. When I am out of fellowship with others, I know it’s because I am out of fellowship with God. When I refuse their love or to love them, I know I am actually rejecting God’s love. It’s a frightening realization.
Have you tried doing a slow study and meditation on, for example, Hebrews or Philippians or 1 Peter? I like to sit down with my notebook and write out my reactions to the verses as I read. I have recieved so much comfort as I am forced to question my discontent! The more I call out to the Lord, the less I am afraid. I hope you can find that too.
I would agree wholeheartedly with what Megan said. When you’re avoiding or desiring to avoid the fellowship of brothers and sisters in Christ. You have to check your heart and your fellowship with the Lord. That is not to say that you have to be everyone’s best friend or “turn on the fire hose” with everyone (after all we are to use discernment), but Jesus specifically commands us to love our brethren. And the command to love, in turn, has to be defined within the context of God’s Word. Too often modern evangelicals have their own ideas of what love means, taking their ques from the culture around them. We have to reject that and embrace what God says about love and understand it and practice it according to His ways.
I also agree with the comment above about you steering the conversation. You can make the first move, you can take an interest in your brothers and sisters in Christ. Love them by asking how they are doing. It’s okay to be slow in forming deep friendships, but you have to start somewhere. As Nancy said in this post, “… you must still extend yourself and give yourself away. If you want to play it 100% safe, you wonâ€™t have any friends at all. Rather be a friend and expose yourself to the danger of being disappointed in your friends, than insulate yourself and never risk anything at all.”
And one last thing: Pray a lot and seek the Lord on this issue.
This is a very timely post. I have one small question. We love our church but have had something(not major) happen in it that makes us feel kind of awkward about being there right now. Do you have any advice on how to make small talk for someone who is shy and is feeling unsure about themselves. How do we still reach out when it hurts and at the same time make sure we’re not complaining?
To add to what the others have said,
Having had severe health problems for many years, a few of my favourite replies for “how are you” are:
(cheerfully) “Not too bad”
It’s always true, because it’s never TOO bad (whatever that is) and most people just smile and say “Great!”
or, if they already know about my health problems, I’ll grin pleasantly and say,
“I’m feeling pretty lousy; how are you?” or something like that. That way I’m honest, without dragging out all the details or moaning and grouching.
I know, very circuitously, of someone who always answers, “Better than I deserve”. So…that’s a good way of looking at things. :^)
I have a question: What do you mean by being too emotionally dependent on friends? I’d like to see where that’s going. Thanks!