When Friendship Is Tough
"Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace." Ephesians 4:2-3 (NIV)
One of the wisest pieces of advice on friendship I ever got was from one of my daughters. She was in middle school at the time. You know that awkward place where insecurities run rampant, hormones rage, and your best friend one day becomes your worst enemy the next? So lovely.
She got in the car one day with tears filling her eyes. She waited until we pulled out of the school parking lot to let all her hurt leak down her cheeks.
"Rough day?" I asked.
"Awful," she replied.
I turned down the radio, waited until we were at a red light, and reached for her hand. "Wanna talk about it?"
"Nope," she whispered as she turned her face away from me toward the window. The rest of the night she sulked around the house. And no matter how many times I tried to get her to talk, this normally very vocal child wouldn't open up.
The next morning, I was surprised when she bounded down the stairs with a smile on her face.
"Well hey! You sure look happy this morning," I said as I lifted up quick thank you prayers to God for whatever had brought back the sunshine to my girl's life.
"Mom," she said with great authority, "I've decided something about friends. They all have good stuff and bad stuff. Things you like and things that really annoy you. So, you just have to decide if you can handle their package deal."
How wise. How true.
Friends are a package deal. And sadly, not all friendships will stand the test of time. Some friendships are for a season.
But other times, we have to be willing to deal with the messy stuff to fight for our friendships.
Recently, I had something hard happen with a friend I dearly love and greatly respect. A misunderstanding. Hurt feelings. Frustration.
Part of me wanted to distance myself because it was hard to sift through the hurt. But as I prayed through it, I had to remind myself this person is a package deal. Part of what makes them a great friend that I love being around is their tenacity and passion to accomplish tasks with excellence. But because they are so task oriented, they are less relationally sensitive.
And if I'm honest with myself, I can see that I'm a package deal too. With good stuff. And annoying stuff.
They have issues. I have issues.
We're both messy people, willing to work on our not-so-fun stuff, who are fully aware we're going to hit some muddy little potholes along our friendship path.
But we've decided the package deal is worth it.
Dear Lord, thank You for my friendships. I know some will last a lifetime, and some will fade after a short season. Please help me be completely humble and gentle, patient, bearing with my friends in love. In Jesus' Name, Amen.
Reflect and Respond:
They have issues. You have issues. Friendships have issues.
How can you invest humility, gentleness and patience in your friendships today?
1 Peter 3:8, "Finally, all of you, be like-minded, be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humble." (NIV)