“A sweet friendship refreshes the soul”
Over the years I have been blessed with some amazing, supportive, funny friends.
People who have supported, loved and watched me walk through a number of different phases(!) and seasons in my life and vice versa.
The theme of friendship runs deep throughout the bible (Ruth and Naomi, Elijah and Elisha, Jesus and Lazarus, Martha and Mary, to name a few). I truly believe we are not expected to walk through this life alone.
However, like every relationship, there can be ups and downs and friendship doesn’t always come easily.
Sharpen and be Sharpened
“As iron sharpens iron, so one person will sharpen another.”
Who we surround ourselves with will naturally have an impact on who we become and how we behave.
I know this all too well from personal experience that I can be influenced by those I spend time with; both for good and also not so positively.
Over the years I have benefited and grown from hearing the thoughts, opinions, and experiences of those who are further on in their Christian walk than myself.
Going back to the bible we see in the book of Kings that, despite the age gap, Elisha and Elijah had a strong bond. That walking with Elijah helped Elisha to grow. Elisha learns from his more experienced friend, ultimately allowing him one day to step into his own destiny as a Prophet.
Maybe this is a good reminder to people further along in their Christian journey to encourage, walk with, and mentor their friends earlier on in their journey.
Maybe it’s also a good reminder that our behaviour and the words we speak can also have an impact on those around us.
Lend a Helping Hand
“If either of them falls down, one can help the other up.”
This is one of my favourite verses in the bible. Both because I have experience being the person offering a hand and also as the person grasping somebody else’s hand as I reached up from the floor.
Do you have a friend who has gone down the wrong path? Help them up.
Know somebody who is having a rough time with their mental health? Help them up.
Is that friend currently on their knees with grief, stress, heart break, confusion? Help them up.
We all have our own struggles and weaknesses. My close friends know mine and I know theirs. We have all seen the other at times bend below the weight of those struggles, but we can also hold each other accountable to them.
It’s about being honest and open, but honest and open with the right people.
The path we walk along as Christians may be narrow, but we’re designed to walk along it together, not as individuals.
You may have heard people say “the closer you get to someone, the more you see their flaws” often said in connection to a romantic relationship, with the understanding that we have to choose to love people, despite their flaws becoming apparent. I believe the same applies to platonic friendships, too.
Friendships as much as any relationship can break down. Why? Because we are human. Because we can misunderstand others intentions, because we can read into what other people have said and how they have acted and we can allow our emotions to cloud our judgements.
When asked by Peter how often we should forgive those who have wronged us, Jesus replied 77 times (which represents countless times).
Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother who sins against me? Up to seven times?” Jesus answered, “I tell you, not just seven times, but seventy-seven times
Although we are called to forgive others, what happens when we realise a relationship is damaging?
Not all friendships are necessary good for both or either parties.
I believe it is wise and healthy to exercise caution who we open our heart up to and who we allow to speak words over our life. If we recognise that a friendship is damaging and unhealthy, it is possible to love and pray for somebody, while choosing no longer to have that person as a close connection in our life. Sometimes this is a process of healing and that’s OK too. God is big enough to walk through that with you.
Finding Your Tribe
Finding your tribe can take time and doesn’t always happen over night.
If you don’t currently have close friends to walk through life, or you shy away from authentic relationships, I would encourage you to change this. Church home groups can be a good starting point.
It may feel scary opening up and taking down your barriers, but it’s only through authenticity that real friendship can bloom. And after all, we’re not expected to walk through this life alone.