Over the years I have had friends that were so close we spoke daily and shared everything but that type of friend is a one of a kind, one at a time, kind of friend. I can’t imagine the labor of having to manage multiple friendships of that level. It would be literally impossible for me.
I have a few precious friends at the moment and they know who they are. One I have known for the past 16 years. One for the past 3 years and another I just met last year. However, these friendships are not at the level that I had growing up.
I have one friend whom I’ve had since I was 13. She was the only person I will ever be able to say was a Best Friend. We shared every dream, hope, and fear. We did crazy fun things together. We giggled till late in the night having sleep overs and she was maid of honor at my wedding. This friend is still my friend. Though we rarely see each other any longer because she lives two to three days drive away, when we talk we can totally pick up where we left off. If I ever was in a place where I needed someone to talk to I could totally call her and share. This friendship has survived the years. We did have a time when our lives were not on the same track and that happens when one person gets married and the other is still single or one has a baby and the other has not. But eventually lives get back in pace again and the connection remains.
I am writing this post today because there may be people in your life that are not truly your friend. You have so much fun together for a time and then something changes but you don’t know why. They don’t tell you that perhaps you hurt their feelings or they just need space. They simply pull away. While this hurts, it is most often more about them and not you. Everyone needs a little space now and then, but a true friend will want to share that with you not just drop out of your life for a time.
Over the years I have several friendships that have dissolved. I started to suggest that the common denominator was me, when a true friend and someone I consider to be a mentor in my life told me that was not the case. She not only knew of the past friendships, she witnessed first hand how one transpired in my life. She assured me that though I gave love it was never reciprocated. I was manipulated to believe she was my friend and in my innocence, I believed.
I used to get very down about the lack of close friends in my life. I mean I just recently had surgery and no one in my town knew about it, and I totally could have used some help. I should not have been alone the first two days post op. I had to ask my nearly 90 year old mother to drive me to appointments. I couldn’t cook or clean. It really made me realize how alone I was. But at this stage in my life I have accepted it as the best for me. Maybe we aren’t all meant to have close girl friends. My husband is my best friend and a girl friend relationship can sometimes come in between that relationship.
What I want to share is that many times we need to examine our relationships and determine if these people really are our friends. There are times when we may be brought along side of someone for a season, blindly giving and pouring into their life because God is reaching out to them through us and then there comes that point where they can change or choose not to. Once the choice is made can mean God releases us from that relationship.
Other times there are people in our lives that simply are bad influences. They truly pull out the worst in us, lead us into temptation, mock us in charming ways that we aren’t sure how to take. Jesus did not trust himself to any man. While he spent so much time with His disciples, He kept a certain distance and even knowing Who He was, there was betrayal from them. So God knows our pain in these relationships. He tells us in many places in the Bible that we are to have nothing to do with people who practice witchcraft which in another place is described as manipulation. We are to guard our hearts and minds, put a bridle on our tongue, make sure that only praise comes out of our mouth, not cursing.
Having people around us that are in error does not give us permission to gossip about them. Gossip is a sin. A true friend will want the best for the other and will in love point to error. Pray for them, but if you sense that God is telling you to end a relationship it is our duty to obey. I turned away from about 2 people in my life for such reasons. In the other cases, I was betrayed and they had never even been my friend, it was one-sided on my part and it took me years to realize it.
- a true friend is not jealous. They are happy for your successes. They cheer you on. They do not compare themselves with you. They do not try to steal your joy…you know who does? John 10:10 says “the enemy comes to steal, kill and destroy but I (Jesus) have come that you may have life and have it more abundantly.” If someone is squashing your accomplishments or bringing negativity to anything that you are looking forward to, that is not love, that is not friendship.
- a true friend does not put you down. Think about it. If someone is putting you down, they are trying to cause you pain. When you have a so-called friend sabotaging you by cutting remarks about your looks, your relationships, spouse, parenting, children, home, things, job, etc. They are not focused on you and your friendship because they are focused on making themselves feel better by putting you down. It is unfortunate because the truth of the matter is that this is a person with low self-esteem. They believe that by speaking these hurtful things to you that it builds them up when in fact it only makes them feel worse. It is said you have to love yourself before you can love someone else. We have to know who we are in God, loved beyond anything we can imagine. He created each person in His image and He does not make a mistake. He breathed the breath of life in us and we should be delighting in His presence and be filled with the joy that comes from Him. In that way we could not put down a friend but truly love them as we have been loved.
- a true friend is there for you when you need them. If you call a friend and say something like “I am feeling so low, or I am really struggling with being a good mom, or I feel overwhelmed with my house” whatever, your friend is going to encourage and support you. More than likely they will offer to help in someway whether it is literally help you with a problem or meet you for lunch or suggest getting out for a walk. They may offer to pray with you that very moment. If your friend is ambivalent towards your cry for help, again you need to question the relationship. A friend offers a shoulder to lean on and to cry on. They are the one who will hold you up when you can’t hold yourself up.
- a true friend has time for you. If you are getting the “cold shoulder” meaning your friend is ignoring you, not calling, not texting they clearly are again not focused on your friendship but on exercising manipulation towards you by not responding to you, sending a clear message by not sending one at all. When a true friend gets a message from another, their heart leaps. If they are busy, they will at the very least communicate that and let the other friend know when they may be able to get back with them. If they aren’t busy they will drop everything to have a moment with you.
- a true friend is not manipulative. Manipulators have alterior motives. They want something and they will manipulate circumstances to make what they want happen. They are using you. They will appear to be your best friend. They will be helpful, kind, flatter you yet there will come a payment that they expect and they can turn on you in a moment if they are not successful in manipulating you into doing what they want or helping them get what they want. A true friend wants nothing more than to be with you, to enjoy sharing thoughts and activities with you. They truly want only the best for you.
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. 1 Corinthians 13:4-7
Always we should look first at ourselves. Are we behaving as a friend to the other person. If after examining our own behavior we believe that we are being a true friend yet we see that the other person in the relationship is displaying one or more of the negative behaviors listed above, it is time to have a heart felt talk.
Giving the other person the opportunity to reflect on how they are behaving in the relationship will again show their true colors. A true friend will humble themselves even if they feel they are being falsely accused. They will apologize and ask how they can make it better.
On the other hand, you can consider the relationship may need to end if the person becomes defensive, even acts disinterested in discussing it with you. I had an experience where someone I thought was my best friend at the time was actually going behind my back telling lies about me to others so I would get removed from the group we were in. Fortunately for me the people in charge were wise and took the time to watch and see for themselves what was happening. Eventually it became apparent to them that I loved her and was happy to be her friend and everything she was saying that I was doing was her projecting her own behavior on me. Once it was revealed and they asked her to just try to get along with me…which I had no idea I thought we were getting along just fine….she refused. They finally told me what had been going on because they were going to ask her to leave our group. I asked to meet her for lunch. I will never forget talking with her, pleading with her, tears falling down my cheeks, telling her I loved her and saying can’t you simply own what you’ve done so we can move on? She sat there as though she were alone. Zero emotion. It was a sad ending to what I thought was a friendship but in reality was only one-sided and a farce.
I just saw her a couple of weeks ago. I again embraced her. Asked about her family. Told her I missed her and loved her and it didn’t hit me until an hour later that she didn’t reciprocate any of those comments. She talked to me and shared what her family was going through but there was nothing kind spoken towards me at all. Had she even given a glimpse of hope that we could be friends, I would have been willing to try even now. But the truth is nothing had changed. Well, I have. I let her know that I love her. Even knowing that love is not returned, I no longer have any rejection or guilt that I had left something undone or unsaid. Perfect peace was and is in my heart where that relationship is.
True friendship is so hard to come by. I pray that if you have a true friend that you cherish them and they you.
If on the other hand you have recently become aware that this is not the relationship you thought it was, or you have recently been betrayed or lost a friend – I pray for healing in your heart and that God speaks to you about the relationship, that He gives you peace in the parting and hope for a friend in the future that has the character of God and wants to give more than receive and bless and not curse. This is my prayer for you.
When you find yourself in times without those close friends nearby as I do and have now for several years, know that God is right there with you. Sometimes He wants us all to Himself so we have the time to focus on Him, to hear His voice, to follow where He leads and accomplish what He has put in us to do. Embrace Him. He is all we need. Friends will come and go but He will never leave you.
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Clarissa Peterson says
Great post, definitely needed to hear this today!
Anne Staeb says
Debbie, I just love your blog!!! What you said about friends is so true! It made me think about my own friendships and ones that have been good and bad. Friendships are wonderful but they require a lot of time and effort to grow them into something that will last. I too have a friend that I met before I entered high school. We were inseparable. In fact people couldn’t say one of our names without saying the other! We used to ride our bikes to a park close to us and we could make one bike ride an adventure to remember! She was lucky I liked her so much because she was much prettier than I and she always had the guys wanting to know her even though she already had a boyfriend! I loved her anyway and still do. We changed a lot after high school and even lost touch for a while, but we never really lost our friendship. As we have gotten older our children have grown and left the home and our friendship has taken on a new dimension! We still feel like young giggly school girls, but what depth to our conversations now. We have a whole life to talk about and share! I look forward to growing old together with her! I always tell my daughter that when it comes to friends I would rather have four quarters than a hundred pennies! She is definitely one of my quarters, actually I think she may be a silver dollar!
How beautifully expressed! Your friend is indeed blessed to call you her friend.