The other day I was having a really honest journaling time with the Lord about friendships. I feel like this is something I've struggled with for so long. How to have healthy, genuine, consistent relationships with other women (I feel like each of those descriptive words deserved their own line, but I refrained). I know for some girls it comes really easy. But not for me.
Anyway, I decided to look at every instance of the word friend, friends, friendship, etc. Most were found in Proverbs and the first one cut me like a knife...
Proverbs 16:28, "A dishonest man spreads strife, and a whisperer separates close friends."
When I first read it I read just "whisper" and I agreed. But when I re-read it I noticed it was "whisperER." It is the person whispering that separates friends not what was whispered.
I have been the girl that was been whispered about. And it hurts.
And I have been the girl that has whispered. And it hurt others... and me.
Because a simple whisperER can easily separate close friends. Once trust is shattered it is really hard to be repaired. I've experienced this too many times and I know for a fact I'm not alone on this one.
Then I kept reading, it was if the order (even though out of order) was specifically ordained just for my time...
Proverbs 22:11, "He who loves purity of heart, and whose speech is gracious, will have the king as his friend."
I'm a grown up now and don't really care about the popular crowd (what always seemed to be the king friends I guess). But now, to me, a king friend is the best kind of friend you could imagine. So to achieve that kind of friendship requires purity of heart and gracious speech. Well that is what I want to give... and receive in a friendship.
And then the next one surprised me a little...
Proverbs 27:6, "Faithful are the wounds of a friend; profuse are the kisses of an enemy."
This one stumped me a little. How could that be? Wounds from a friend? But as I looked at the commentary it said that when we have a genuine friend they will be honest enough to hurt us at times. But how often do I settle for the flattery of others (really enemies who aren't out for my good). When instead what is best is to, at times, be so wounded because I am so loved. To have someone be honest with you even though it doesn't feel good. And to give that in friendship. To intentionally wound friends to bring about healing (obviously this should be done in love and grace and not maliciously).
Ready for the next one?
Proverbs 22:24-25, "Make no friendship with a man given to anger, nor go with a wrathful man, lest you learn his ways and entangle yourself in a snare."
There are times relationships should end because it brings you down to a place that is harmful for you. And I think that is OK.
Proverbs 17:17 says, "A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity."
That when it gets rough, that is where real friendship develops. Where a real friend proves themself faithful. We don't just stay friends when it feels good or as beneficial to us... but all the time, "in sickness and health."
In knowing that though, friendship goes two ways. Yes you are to love at all times, but that friend should love you back at all times. If you find that a friendship is one-sided then it might be time for a serious talk with that friend or time to realize the friendship isn't as deep as you might think.
Proverbs 18:24, "A man of many companions may come to ruin but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother."
We all at times are given to pride when we look at our blog stats or Facebook friend number or how many Christmas cards are hanging in our homes. But, what I'm realizing now just months before I turn 30, is that the breadth of my friends should be nothing compared to the depth. I know what you are thinking, "She's just now getting that?" No, but yes.
So a summary, how to be a better friend, be...
One that doesn't whisper.
One that doesn't listen to whispering.
One who seeks purity of heart.
One who gives grace with my words.
One who is willing to wound if it means to love.
One who is willing to be wounded if it means to be loved.
One who is not tempted by the pretentious conversation of others.
One who steps away when the friendship is harmful.
One who stays when the friendship is hard.
One who sticks close to the few, instead of pursuing the many.
Here is a really amazing article: "What is a godly friend" by Grace Driscoll (Mark Driscoll's wife). This is one of the best articles I've ever read on what it looks like to have a godly friendship with others.