Recently, I came across an old song written by Burt Bacharach and Carole Sager. It was first recorded in 1982 by Rod Stewart, but is better known for Dionne Warwicks version of the song titled That’s What Friends are For. One of the verses caught my attention:
Keep smiling, keep shining knowing you can always count on me, for sure. That’s what friends are for; the good times and bad time, I’ll be on your side forever more. That’s what friends are for.
Some of you reading this, have had loss of trust in friendships. Perhaps a friend betrayed you, or offended you in some way. Let’s face it, all of us have had some friend issues. During the pandemic, I have discovered a renewed appreciation of friendships. Being quarantined at one time, then having to practice social distancing over the past year, has hindered our ability to gather as friends. But one thing that has been possible, is something even better– one on one gatherings. This is how friendships grow deeper. Larger friend gatherings, though fun, can be a hindrance to getting to know people in a deeper more meaningful way.
Here is what I have learned during the pandemic about friendship:
- All healthy friendships emanate from being friends with the One who calls us friend; Jesus Christ.
- In order to have a friend, we must be a friend. It starts first with being a friend of Jesus, and then reaching out to a friend.
- Authentic friendships begin with recognizing that we all have issues; we all have little or big masks that we pull out when we fear rejection. But creating a safe place to remove the mask, knowing that the friendship will still be intact when the mask comes off. is super important.
- Serving others, rather than seeking to be served, creates friendships that go deep. People know how much you care for them when you choose to put them first.
This past week was rough. The Drawing Near to God staff and I had to make an unpopular decision to move our Making Space Bible study to all virtual groups this semester. We had been exercising a hybrid model- half attending the live session, the other half doing the classes online. But we had some extenuating circumstances that gave us reason to believe we needed to make this change. I was at peace with our decision, but nevertheless, in an already crazy busy week, making this change was rough. And then a friend called…
My friend knew nothing about my last few weeks being a bit stormy and all she said was: “Thought you needed a friend.” I have seen the Lord do this time and time again. He never abandons us, and He uses friendships to be His hands and feet of encouragement while we trek through life.
But what about friendships that have gone awry– and are broken still causing pain? What do we do when this colors our ability to enter into friendships? The reality is, we all have had some experience of this, but the answer lies in what we do about it. I am going to suggest to you three possibilities.
- Forgiveness must always be option number one. No matter what, offering this person forgiveness and asking that they forgive you. And even if you think that they are 100 % at fault and they only should forgive, keep in mind that none of us are perfect (only Jesus) and most likely there is a need for what I call two-way forgiveness.
- If the person is unwilling to forgive, or they do forgive and then cut you out of their lives, trust the Lord to repair the friendship or take you through the pain to the other side where humility, kindness, and a soft heart can prosper regardless. The alternative is to have a bitter heart and that is never pretty.
- Ask the Lord to heal areas of your life that cause you to put up walls of protection. Keep in mind however that protective walls may be necessary if the relationship is toxic, I am referring to walls that exist only because of need for healing.
Friendship is a huge subject. These are just some of my thoughts about the value of friendships that again start first with our friendship with Jesus. He is a friend that will never fail you. But He also wants us in community with one another. Take the time today to bring your friendships before the Lord. Surrender them and seek their welfare. That is always a good place to start.
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