Wednesday, December 21, 2011

The test of friendship

Some find it easy to make friends while others struggle their whole life. Trust is hard. It's difficult to open up and then when you do, well, some find their heart broken, because that other friend was just willing to walk away without giving another thought. But here you are putting your whole heart into the friendship. Sound familiar?

I have been on both sides of this situation. I have been that friend who has been hurt by those who choose to walk away and I too have been that friend who has thrown my hands up in the air and said, "Enough!"

The thing is, friendship takes work. Relationships take work. Everything of value takes work. It's not just something you say, it's something you do. We love with everything we have or else it simply isn't love. Relationships just don't happen. They not only take work, but patience and grace. They take two people willing to work together and who want to be together.

We must realize we are not always going to see eye to eye on every issue. This is what makes us different. I don't want a friend who simply fits my mold and is perfect in every way. I want a friend who is true and true to who they are. When we have a difference of opinion we need to be honest and most importantly agree in love to disagree. After all, aren't we all a work in progress? I can never expect from an other person what I myself am not willing to give to a friendship. The thing is, when we are confident and secure in our own self we can then see that same confidence and security in others.

Who is my best friend? Well Jesus Christ of course. My husband is there at the top of my list, but there are times where I have shared that my little pup Daisy is one of my best friends here on earth. Why? She loves me no matter what. She might get a little tiffed at me if I don't give her a treat, but she forgives quickly. When I walk through the door she is so excited to see me. It doesn't matter if I have been gone five hours or five minutes, it's all the same to her. She loves me on my good days and on those days where I am a crab. If we open our eyes we could learn a great deal from those pets who depend on us so. Shouldn't we be able to depend on our friends? Shouldn't we have unconditional love? Sure we should.

Friendship is a gift. It is something to value and treasure. Sure, there is a time when we need to walk away from some relationships when they are hazardous to our health and state of mind. But before we walk away why not pray over our friendship? Have we given it our all? We should be able to go to our friend and say, "I'm not comfortable with how you are treating me", or "You have really hurt my feelings", but many times we are way to quick to jump to a defense, when in reality we are the very friend who should be the one to apologize for our behavior.

We are always quick to assume. Too many times there is miscommunication and instead of confronting our friend, we go to someone else. Here is a great reminder that my pastor has always shared. "If your not part of the problem or the solution stay out of it." Meaning go to that friend person to person. Not in a text or a letter. Oh, how I have learned that the hard way. Face to face is always the best way. Honesty counts for so much in friendship. You can't have friendship without it.

I want to be surrounded by friends who will tell me the truth, good or bad. We not only need to be encouraged, we need a friend who will help to sharpen us and sometimes that might mean a little rubbing. But when we do it in love and for the right reason, God will always give us the words to say and show us the right actions.

Look at the pearl. It takes work for that pearl that started out just a tiny grain of sand. It took rubbing and perfecting over time,  until at last, beauty to the eye of the one who holds it. Patience brings forth beauty.

Our greatest example of a friend is Jesus Christ. He was willing to give all. He doesn't just throw us aside like we never existed. He takes His time. He shows us grace and washes us with mercy. We can lean on Him in our times of trouble and He is the first one cheering us on in our journey. He sees past our faults and knows that those very faults will change over time into areas in our life that will bring Him glory and honor. When we are tempted He is there to guide us in the right path. The most important loving gift is that He is always there. He is never too busy and always has our best interest at heart.

"A friend is always loyal, and a brother is born to help in time of need."
Proverbs 17:17

"There are “friends” who destroy each other, but a real friend sticks closer than a brother."
Proverbs 18:24

"The heartfelt counsel of a friend is as sweet as perfume and incense."
Proverbs 27:9

"As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend."
Proverbs 27:17

We have seasons of friendship. Real friendships always find the way back to the joy they once began with and if we are truly blessed they will be better than ever as we each grow in the Lord. The best thing we can do for a friend is to always be there. Sure, we all get busy. Life is busy, but we are busy with what we want to be busy with. Don't take those friendships for granted. Give your time, whether all you have is a few minutes to send a hello or a few hours for lunch. Grab those precious moments and run with them! 

"There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command. I no longer call you slaves, because a master doesn't confide in his slaves. Now you are my friends, since I have told you everything the Father told me."
John 15:13-15

"Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed. If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble. Likewise, two people lying close together can keep each other warm. But how can one be warm alone? 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 4:9–12

Dear Lord, help me to be the kind of friend who loves without doubt and gives all. Help me to forgive quickly and never assume. Give me the kind of heart that is honest and pure. May I always be uplifting and encouraging to those around me. Help me to reach out and listen with a heart of patience and always without malice love wholeheartedly. Amen
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