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