I blew it with a friend several days ago. I know better than to speak when I’m tired, or frustrated, or heaven forbid, both! But I did it anyway. I was not kind. She knew she’d done nothing to provoke such a response, so my words pierced her heart. Finally realizing how much I hurt her, my heart hurt. Ironically, (I’m sure it was Holy Spirit timed!) a book I ordered showed up at my door that very afternoon. Words from the introduction of Never Unfriended by Lisa-Jo Baker hurled a spear into my heart that helped me determine the root of my unkindness:
“We want to matter to the people we think matter. We want the people we think matter to single us out. We want them to want to spend time with us. We want them to want to share bits of themselves with us that they don’t share with anyone else. We want them to invite us in.”
My words to my friend were over something that wouldn’t normally ruffle a feather. However, I unconsciously aimed them at something much deeper – something my friend knew nothing about. The cause of my unkindness was buried deep within the root of “I just want to matter”. Does that hit home with you?
According to Lisa-Jo, friendship issues seem to be a common theme among men and women, but especially women. She says,
“No matter how invisible you feel or how well you are known, I have yet to meet another woman who doesn’t have scars from broken friendships. In a world where we can be unfriended with the swipe of a finger, sometimes as recently as yesterday, those scars can defeat us. They can isolate us. And we can become experts at cutting people out of our lives just so we don’t have to deal with the discomfort of being their friend.”
There’s a strange sort of comfort in knowing you’re not the only one who’s ever blown it. Perhaps, you’ve failed at a few friendships, but who hasn’t? I’m still sorry for what I said to my friend, and I have apologized, but she spoke the truth when she graciously said, “Relationships are messy.” Truly, they are! But at the same time, it’s the messiness that make them so exciting.
Godly friendship pushes you to become the person God made you to be. Mistakes in friendship teach you lessons only those who gently hold your heart have the right to teach. True friendship properly hones the way you see yourself and gives you confidence to carry on. Faithful friendship teaches, comforts, protects, forgives, counsels, and stays put. Yes, I believe friendship just might be the very institution God continues to use to teach all of us how to relate to the Holy Spirit. If we let the Spirit in, He will become our very best friend! Only then, can He effectively teach us how to become better friends with each other.
I know the great lengths my friends, and especially my husband, recently went to in order to put some wind back into my deflated emotions. Those acts of Spirit-generated love created a thankfulness that lit a fire under my desire to love others without expecting anything in return.
Obviously, I don’t always get it right, but at least I’ve learned to admit my mistakes and ask for forgiveness much sooner. I’m slowly learning how to focus on small victories rather than dwelling on my mistakes. The Spirit has set me on the right path and blessed me with wise and understanding friends who love me just because they love me. That makes me love them more.
Ephesus’ young pastor Timothy understood how precious the encouragement of a good friend can be. David A. Seamands, in his book Healing for Damaged Emotions, stated, “The entire 2nd epistle to Timothy seems to be written by Paul to pull Timothy out of depression.” (Even those on fire for the Lord can let their flame get too low. Look around and see if there’s a leader in your life who could use some encouragement.)
I took some time to examine 2nd Timothy so that I could focus on friendship through the eyes of Paul. I wanted to learn what he wrote to lift Timothy out of his depression. I came up with 10 things I believe every friend wants. I can testify to their worth because these are exactly the things my friends did for me.
Just to get us started on this 3-part series on friendship, I’ll give you the first one today. Go back and read 2 Timothy, and see if you can pick out 9 more.
WHAT FRIENDS WANT
“To Timothy, my dearly loved son. I constantly remember you in my prayers night and day. Remembering your tears, I long to see you so that I may be filled with joy.” (2 Tim. 1:2a, 3b-4)
It’s so easy to think compliments, yet never say them out loud. Compliments go a mighty long way in smoothing out a rough day. If Timothy was anything like us, I’m sure he tore into Paul’s letter while standing at the mailbox. Then, seeing that Paul called him his dearly loved son must have painted a smile on his face.When was the last time you told a friend just how much they mean to you? In the first few lines of his letter, Paul made sure Timothy understood how much he mattered by admitting how often he thought of him and how anxious he was to see him. Timothy had to have known he was a needed and necessary part of Paul’s life. That’s some good affirmation!
Next week, we’ll look at five more things friends want and need. If you have your own thoughts, chime in! After all, we’re all friends!