Sometimes friendship is plain hard.
What should come easily, eludes…
What everyone else seems to have in bountiful supply, you lack…
Never do you feel more alone than when you’re in a crowd of women whom you like or admire or want to know, but they appear not even to notice you…
Because we’re created in the image of God, it only makes sense that we’d crave friendship…relationship. Triune God ~ Father, Son and Holy Spirit ~ His very nature is relational. Everything was good in Eden except for man’s aloneness–God never intended mankind to live a solitary life.
Friendship has been a struggle for me in recent years. The hurtful actions by a few people I valued somehow caused me to lose confidence in myself; which, in turn, had bearing in how I related to others. Sometimes I constructed walls around my heart in an attempt at self preservation, but too often I flat out consented to feeling inferior.
I b e l i e v e d a l o t o f l i e s .
But I’ve learned to see a beautiful aspect to my void and pain, important not to overlook:
It serves a purpose.
Conflict is crucial to a good story, and aren’t all our lives telling good stories? Isn’t it through the most difficult seasons that we grow and mature and change the most? If God is only good (and I believe He is) then isn’t He using all the circumstances, choices and consequences of my choices, for my good to accomplish His purposes? So when life gets hard ~ yes, through relational conflict, but also in personal crisis (health, financial, marital, etc.) ~ I have a choice to make: to follow the path of least resistance (what a worldly response dictates) or to allow my mind to be renewed and my heart to be transformed.
At midlife, I am still learning the art of friendship.
Three powerful friendship lessons are found in Proverbs–
A man who has friends must himself be friendly,
But there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother. (Proverbs 18:24, NKJV)
To have friends you must first BE a friend. This is one of the few times I prefer the King James or New King James translations of Scripture; all the other ones seem to say something else. Are you waiting on others to make the first move or are you willing to reach out? Of course everyone wants to be on the receiving end, to have someone else interested enough to initiate, but why not be the one to BE the one? Sure, you’re risking rejection, but I think the likely benefit outweighs that occasional cost.
A peaceful heart leads to a healthy body;
jealousy is like cancer in the bones. (Proverbs 14:30, NLT)
New Living translation packs a powerful punch; “…jealousy is like cancer….” Painful and potentially deadly. Ouch. I don’t think I’m typified by jealousy but I have a destructive inclination of comparing myself to others, particularly when it comes to writing and Accomplishing Big Things. I don’t disparage the success of my friends – I celebrate with them! – but I sometimes allow their success to make me feel “less than.”
Jealousy will hold you back, keep you down, and create chasm in your relationships; left unchecked it will destroy friendship and cultivate bitterness. Jealousy cannot co-exist with the fruit of the spirit–love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control.
As iron sharpens iron,
so a friend sharpens a friend. (Proverbs 27:17 NLT)
Recently, a friend cared enough about me to point out a blind spot; though difficult to accept, I know she had my best interest at heart. I prayed over her words and asked the Lord to reveal what He wanted me to hear. It is dulling to limit yourself only to the friends who will always agree with you or tell you what you want to hear. Allow yourself to be vulnerable enough to invite your friends to tell you what they really think, and then prayprayPRAY for discernment.