Ideally, when we choose friends, it’s usually not on purpose….not as an adult anyway. I mean, I don’t really think that we look at each other like, “Oh yeah…that’s gonna be my friend….just watch!” Well, some may, but that’s a different blog. EHEMMMM….so…we join together in this friendship thinking that now we have someone to hang with…lunch with…movie with…talk with….and then, in some rare occasion, we become “besties”. Now, what makes a bestie??? Each person probably has their own definition, which may (or may not) be why no one ever lives up to anyone else’s expectation of what a true friend REALLY is….because different folk have different thoughts and expectations. Most of which are never discussed or relayed. Folks that are in these friendships with each other, don’t know what the other expects. For instance, in kindergarten, there are usually levels to friendships…everyone is automatically friends unless you do something I don’t like, in which case, you are officially unfriended for like 7 minutes or until I like your new toy. Then, we become best-friends if you sit next to me at lunch on pizza day and share your play doh during discovery center time. See how that works? There are clearly defined lines and rules to friending. As we got older, we started out with a peace offering by making
Anyhoo, what if, we were more like children, or even more like a courting couple? What if we made our expectations known? What if we did fast and pray before choosing to hang together? Would that make a difference? I’m sure it would. But is it feasible….well….depends on the instance and the person or persons involved. It should be feasible…but “people” don’t work that way. What I will say though, is that I believe it’s important to seek God on any aspect of our lives, including who we should grant our friendship to. I mean friends, especially best friends, usually pay a very important role. And we gotta remember (and be cautious of the fact) that, we sometimes ascribe more trust and communication to these “people” than we do God. Don’t believe me??? When something new happens in your life, who do you call first? When you have a problem, who do you call first for advice? When your friend gives you the “perfect” gift, don’t you swoon all over them??? When Jesus wakes you up everyday, do you show the same, or greater, appreciation??? Even if you’ve learned better, at some point in your life, you called a friend INSTEAD of Jesus. So then, realizing that, how important do you think it is to seek God on choosing your “circle”? Very! 2 Corinthians 6:14 says, “Don’t team up with those who are unbelievers. How can righteousness be a partner with wickedness? How can light live with darkness?” (NLT). Now, as children of God, we are expected to be friendly. (“A man that hath friends must shew himself friendly: and there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother.” Proverbs 18:24) But that doesn’t mean that you just “hang” with anyone. They have to challenge you and help to make you better. (“Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend.” Proverbs 27:17) A friend, in my opinion, should be able to pray for me! Like….I’ve made this a life rule, if you can’t pray, then we can’t hang. And as children of God, we should be this way. Friendship is a life matter….!!!
I’ve learned that there are things I that shouldn’t have to express a need of. If I trust you as a friend, I automatically expect support. Often, we just need to feel that someone is there for us. Let me know that it’s okay for me to have dreams and that I should, first seek God, and then follow them. We should be able to let each other know that we want God’s best for each other and that we can agree for God’s will to be done in each other’s lives. (“Again I say unto you, That if two of you shall agree on earth as touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven.” Matthew 18:19) I have learned that friendships take WORK! Friendships are relationships where feelings are involved. So, just like in a relationship with a significant other, you gotta work…you gotta care…you gotta wanna be good at it.
As a friend, I TOTALLY expect consideration of my feelings to be taken. I’ve been in friendships where I’ve felt as if I was expected to be there, no matter how I was treated. We all have our issues and rough days, but if I’m always expected to be the sunshine while you get to rain all over me, it’s HARD….and it HURTS! And it’s draining! As friends, I expect that we take notice of what is REALLY important to each other. I often find myself involved in some things just because it is important to someone that I care about. I have found that sometimes, the same care may not be taken in regards to me. There have been many times, over the years, that I have celebrated “important to me” things and accomplishments alone because friends were “busy” or they’d catch up with me when it was over. That kind of stuff is rough. There have also been times when I’ve had some not so great situations that I seemed to weather alone. And do you know what I’ve learned from all of those times??? I’ve learned to NEVER stop being the kind of friend that I am. I cannot control others, nor can I predict how they will respond to my needs or expectations. But I realize that it is important not to allow anyone to adjust my character. God created me to be a “friend”…sometimes considered too vulnerable, sometimes considered too caring, sometimes (some may think) not enough. But I have had to learn not to beat myself up because of friendships that didn’t make it.
In fact, I’ve learned that sometimes, being a good friend means letting go. I’ve realized that it’s possible to do more harm than good by sticking around beyond your season’s time. Some friendships are not meant to last. And if it’s not meant to last, no matter what kind of brick you use to build it, it won’t. During Bible Study on this past Thursday, my pastor said, “you must stop investing long-term energy in short-term relationships.” That struck a cord…..how many times do we try to hold on just for the sake of never letting go? You gotta break that toxic pinky promise!
Truth is, we often cannot tell, in the beginning, that this is how our friendships will turn out. I mean, look at Job. He didn’t know how his friends REALLY felt about his situation until he was down to nothing. All these years, he thought they had his back and when his back was up against the wall and covered with boils, he found out their true character. Sometimes, even after all the years spent and all the moments shared, it takes one situation for true character to be revealed. That’s why it’s important to seek God, especially when He often will give us discernment concerning some individuals. Matthews 6:33 says, “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” I believe that even includes friendships. It is a necessity…how can two or 3 be gathered if there is only one of you??? The Bible also says, in Proverbs 4:23, “Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.” GUARD YOUR HEART! I understand that sometimes, life circumstances come along and can shake someone to their core. As a good friend, we want to stick around…..we want to “be there”, but we must be able to recognize if it’s time to step aside. It is important not to lose yourself trying to help someone relocate their own life. People want a “ride or die” but I’m not trying to die, not even a second, before my time because I risked it all being there when God didn’t call me to be. There may be times when what someone goes through causes them to change, see things differently, or even walk away from Christ. That’s rough as well, but the key is to stay aligned with God and ask Him to show you what you must do concerning that friend.
And you know what else? Fasting and praying is NEVER a bad idea. There may be times when you have to fast and pray about an individual being a part of your life. It’s understandable…this is your life here! With friends, you are expected to TRUST them, even if it’s just enough to ride in the car while they drive (some folk can’t drive me NO WHERE! I don’t trust those skills…or lack thereof). And as a friend, if they “refuse” to fast with you when you feel you need it, then there’s your answer right there.
So, I’d say that in a sense, choosing a friend can be just as, or more, difficult than choosing a spouse. The older I get, the more value and importance I place on friendship; the more attention I pay to who I allow in and out of my life. A few things to remember: There will be a few failed attempts at friendship. (“It is better to trust in the Lord than to put confidence in man.” Psalms 118:8) NEVER allow people to change your views on true loyalty just because they were unloyal to you. (“Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.” 2 Timothy) Don’t give up on people just because you’ve been hurt by a few. (“A friend loveth at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.” Proverbs 17:17) ALWAYS forgive!!! (“And if he trespass against thee seven times in a day, and seven times in a day turn again to thee, saying, I repent; thou shalt forgive him.” Luke 17:4) Pray for ‘em! (“Bless them that curse you, and pray for them which despitefully use you.” Luke 6:28) Be YOU! (“I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well.” Psalms 139:14)
Truth is, if we all took the time to be the friend that we thoroughly expect EVERYONE else to be to us, we’d be A LOT better at this friendship thing. Should we take more care in being a friend and paying attention to who we allow in our circle? Short answer: Of course. Long answer: We’re not perfect, and we want companionship, and all the stuff that comes with that. Mahatma Gandhi said that we should “be the change” we wish to see in the world. Well, I want the world to have better friends….so you know what? Yep…I’ve got to be a better friend. That doesn’t mean that I need to go call up all my unfriends and try to fix our past. But it does mean that I pray more, fast more, seek God more, and vow to be who He has called me to be; even if that makes me the person that loves HARD. That makes me a better person, which then allows me to be better to others. Don’t be fooled though…..you deserve a GOOD friend! You deserve for someone to be there for you! You deserve to have your feelings considered! You don’t deserve to be looked over! You don’t deserve to be placed on the friend shelf until needed!
“A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken.” Ecclesiastes 4:12 (make that third Jesus!)
Look, I don’t have the fool proof secret blueprint for friendship, but I do have………….ME.
Welp….that’s all I got for now……………and you’re probably glad cause that was kinda long.
Love y’all…..I won’t bug you anymore tonight…..I guess it’s morning now. 😉