I was typing so hard the scab on the inside of my finger split open. I was crying. It was black outside and black inside. There, in the dark, there was blood dripping out on all the black letters. My keyboard was like a crime scene. The blood didn’t stop me. It fueled me. It was connecting me to my pain. I typed chaotically and frantically until all my words were hushed, and the only thing left was the slow drying red over the hole on my finger. Words sealed back up my deep wound. Never before had I felt such deep pain. After years and years, a friendship I had ended. I was experiencing heart-ripping-out rejection. Here, on my bed, with the blood and the blackness and the typing, I sobbed a desperate sort of sob.
I’ve spent most of my life dreaming of having a best friend. I wanted a friend who would never forget my birthday, save me a seat, and share her secrets with me. I wanted to be someone else’s favorite person. We would have each other’s backs and be a holy, little clique. I thought if I had a best friend, I’d be safe and feel wanted. But after several friendship breakups, friends who never called back, and friendships that slowly fizzled out, I started to see how something was wrong with the way I pursued and maintained relationships. After breaking hearts and quiet vows, I’m learning how God uses friendships in my life to draw me into a deeper friendship with Him. From pain to healing and from forgiveness to freedom, here are five mistakes I’ve made in my friendships.
1. Idolatry. I worshipped friendships. I just wanted one best friend. One. Anytime I found a friend I connected with, I used her to fill the void in my heart. I put that friend on a pedestal and that friendship became an idol I had to keep appeased, happy, and satisfied. Instead of idolizing a best friend, God invites us to put Him above any and all relationships.
2. Envy. I became easily jealous when I saw other people have friendships I wanted. Now in this age of social media, I am always aware when my friends are hanging out without me. When I scroll through images of friends hiking and brunching without me, a pang of envy pokes at my heart. Instead of letting envy spoil my soul, God invites me to pray blessings over other relationships, “God, bless their friendships. Bless them and change my heart.”
3. Comparison. As my friendships would grow in intimacy, so did my need to compete. I was always comparing myself to them. She was smart, but I was smarter. She was thinner, but I was more athletic. She was funny, but I was more popular. Comparison will poison friendships. It hurts people. Instead of comparison, God invites us to lift others up. He wants us to put others first. If relationships have any chance of surviving, we must stand on the same ground of grace.
4. Fear. I was always afraid of friendships ending and being rejected. I was nervous I wasn’t a good enough friend. I would be manipulative and dishonest because I didn’t want to disappoint anyone. I would hide parts of myself that I was afraid of showing. I didn’t believe she could handle the real me, so I would conceal the truth. Instead, God invites us to step into the light. Friendships can only grow if there is honesty.
5. Pride. I had to be right. I needed to be right. When I made mistakes, it was so hard for me to admit my wrong. I would turn the blame on others or skirt around the real issues. I didn’t take ownership for the mistakes I made. Instead, God invites us to confess. The only way to truly meaningful relationships is through confession.
Friendships are one of God’s greatest gifts to us. When you find a good friend, your life will be forever changed. But I don’t just want to find a good friend anymore. I don’t want to stuff relationships into the void in my soul to feel okay. I don’t want envy to make me paranoid and ugly. I don’t want comparison to be what divides my friendships any longer. When I feel fear pricking my paralyzed heart, I don’t want to tell tiny white lies. I don’t want to prove myself or let pride become a shield that keeps me from seeing myself.
I want to be a good friend. I want to be a friend that sets my friends free, builds them up, cheers them on, speaks the truth, and humbly walks with them through life. God models pure friendship for us in the way He gave Himself up for us. Yes, a true friend lays down her life for another. It takes a tremendous amount of trust to love a friend this way. It requires entering the deep love and friendship of Jesus first. The way to better our friendships is to know the friendship of Jesus. I can make mistakes, cry, lose relationships, and bleed, but the friendship of Jesus will always remain faithful to me.
The way to better our friendships is to know the friendship of Jesus. -Anjuli Paschall: Click To Tweet Leave a Comment
Dawn Ferguson-Little says
I don’t have many friends in my life. I not that popular. I always asked God from time to time to send me a friend who I could meet up with go for walk with go the cinema with. Go for coffee. Have Prayer and Bible time together. One that if she down or I down or we got a problem we can tell either it goes no were but between both of us and too God in Prayer. We are there too help either. We Promises to keep all we tell either to ourselves and God only. But it never seems to comes. I don’t complain to God say why God have you not sent me a friend like this. I am thank full I have the best friend of all that is Jesus. I do have friends they used live where I live but now they live 86 miles away. I hardly ever see them. We keep in touch. But it not the same as having them in person down near were I live. I have one other friend but she lives by herself. She is busy with work. We don’t meet that often. When we do it for fun and general catch up. Theses friends are saved. But don’t have time to be that type of friend I ask God for. The friend that lives on her own live only 8 miles away from me she do anything for me. She has loads of friends. I love her too pieces when we meet up it great we have some great laughs. She is one in a million like my friends that live 86 miles away from me. I then at one time used to get very down about it. Wonder why I didn’t have more friends. To go for walks with go for coffee have Prayer and Bible time with. Something came into my head I learned a lot from it. It really spoke to me. Dawn stop grumbling. Your alive your well. Look at that poor old lady in the Nursing Home who has no family or friends who are all deseceed. Only sees the Carers in the Home. You still have your lovely Husband and your Family to visit now and then plus your Dad. You alive you can get out and about you can pray for people like that. That really spoke to me. I thought God are you speaking to me hear. Making me more thank full for what I have. When I do see my Friends that live 86 miles away from me and the one that lives 8 miles away from even though not that often. To be thank full I have Friends. Not like that Old person in the Nursing home who has no one. Only sees the carers. I went to God right away said God forgive me for Grumbling. Help me to be for thank full for all you have given me and the friends you have given me. Even if I don’t see them that often. It spoke to me the mistakes I made in wanting more friendship. When God has all ready given me friends. Love today’s reading. Xxxx
Joann Riggio says
Dawn thank you for sharing your heart and being an open book. I appreciate your honest thankful heart. God bless you!
Oh Dawn, thank you for sharing your heart and your story. If we find friendship in Jesus, we have the greatest gift. Thank you for letting us see you.
been there too. had an absolute best friend for years . we were together weekly and then she moved away for 3 years. when she returned she was different.. cold and icy emotionally. soon she pulled away from everyone and I lost my best friend.
in my 20s and 30s i have looked for new friends but have been heart broken ; it’s definetly a rocky road to try to maintain friendships plus raise ones own family and still have some alone time all while putting God first.
as I aged I realized having lots of friends or even that very close best friend no longer matters to me. I’m more mature..stable in my ways and ultimately happy with who I am.
I always wondered why 20 – 30 year olds need such interactive friendships while 50 + year olds seem more stable in not seeking out a best friend. I had always seen older women who didn’t strive so hard for friendships …
now at 45 I get it. it’s about having that strong relationship with Christ , knowing who you are and simply enjoying the days God gave us.
while I enjoyed having a best friend to chat with and raise our kids closely as families I now am happy doing more independent things and having less close friendships.
If we can find friendship with Jesus, we have found gold.
Wanda Faye says
Amen, good article. I believe we all look for love and acceptance in others but don’t always recognize the love and acceptance God has for us and has presented to us through His Son, Jesus.
Becky Keife says
“I want to be a friend that sets my friends free, builds them up, cheers them on, speaks the truth, and humbly walks with them through life.” You are that friend to me, Anjuli, and I’m so thankful for you!
BC from BC says
Bless you for being so honest!!!
Beth Williams says
Yes friendships are a gift from God. Something to be treasured. Ralph Waldo Emerson said it best: “The only way to have friends is to be one.” In that respect one must be the kind of person she wants in others. It may be that we must step out of our comfort zone & go first. Be the one that says hello to the newbie at church or work. I grew up with very few friends. Was a shy child. Now years later I have several good friends. Most of them are from church. I call, text or write them cards to let them know I care about them. Also have a group of 4 ex-co-workers that try to get together once a month to catch up on life. I am the glue that holds them together. Every so often I will text them & see how they are doing & if we can meet up. I have met several people by volunteering with Relay for Life & church camp. Some I stay in touch with & others I see here & there. Work has provided some good friendships. On two Fridays this year I helped one co-worker move. Just enjoy doing things for others without expecting anything in return. I am the one who cheers on my friends & does what she can for them.
Audria Linton says
This testimony was very helpful for me. Thank you for sharing !
I always appreciate your thoughtful comments! Thank you for cheering ME on by reading my post.
Thank-you for sharing your honest, heartfelt words that remind us that the friendship we have with Jesus is to be honored, and cherished, not taken lightly or for granted. It truly is a blessing, and a gift that helps teach us how to be this kind of friend to others.
Blessings to all,
Audria Linton says
Thank you SO MUCH for this article! I’ve never heard anyone articulate what I’ve struggled with for SO MANY years (I’m just 20) so perfectly! Thank you because now I feel like I have a clear direction about how to go about pursuing healthier friendships and especially a friendship with Jesus. You don’t know how much this article blessed, edified, and encouraged me today!!
God bless you, Anjuli!
This is a brilliant article. I also used to wish for the unconditional love of a best friend. I’d find one, think it was the best thing ever, then it would fizzle out or end abruptly. I’ve learned to hold them loosely; to treat them as I want to be treated; to love them the way I want to be loved (and be OK if they don’t love me in the same way); and to stop idolizing my friendships, hoping that they will fill a hole in my heart that only God can fill. It’s been a painful road but I’ve grown through it. And so have my friendships.
Maggie R says
Thank you Anjuli (friend, sister in Christ). You’re so right, for as I’ve grown older my friendships are richer because my relationship to Jesus is also richer. Please pray for my daughter who suffered so much growing up in an abusive home life and in multiple foster homes leaving her depressed and desiring true friendships. She is beginning to show some interest in Jesus for which I’m thankful. I will definitely share your timely message. Love n blessings dear friend.
Thank you Anjuli! Your words are such a good reminder of the friendship we have in Jesus! Thank you for your honesty!
Thank you so much for articulating what has been a struggle for me for a while now. I’m an introvert so I don’t make friends easily. I had a repetitive cycle of a work friendship that works for a few weeks then when something bad happens it gets ended. In my pursuit of having her as a friend I didn’t ask God if this friendship is what he wants. After many failed attempts with this friendship I realised I was investing more than what I was receiving and instead of it being a go to talk about stuff, laugh about things & cry about things that affects us it became a burden. Finally during the lockdown I realised I need to work on my relationship with God first before anything else. Best decision I could have made & the peace of God is guarding my heart & mind. I have other friends that stays far away but I try to keep in contact with them. I know that only God can change people and that includes me. Even if I don’t have a person as a best friend to do stuff with I have the King of Kings as a close friend and whats better that that!