Friendship…for all of us who have struggled with it

After trying so hard for many, many years to make friends and to keep friends, only to find myself again and again with a wounded heart and a brokenness unlike any other, I found peace in deepening my understanding of love.

Life has taught me that many people use the word “friendship” lightly. It is often a contingent relationship, one based on doing what is understood and expected by others. Many friends, especially in the teenage years, look quite a bit alike, dress alike, speak alike, do the same things, etc. There are standards to which folks strive, whether knowingly or unknowingly, to achieve in order to be accepted. I never was very good at being like others. I’ve always thought a little differently, acted a little differently, and even dressed a little differently. I’m known as “the queen of turtlenecks!” I’m cold already, and intensely modest, so give me a break 🙂

Imagine…wanting a friend, oh and needing a friend, only to find when in a group that the one “friend” missing is talked negatively about. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to realize that if your “friends” will talk behind the back of another “friend” they will also talk behind your back. Disheartening…

I’ve considered again and again the dynamics that make for so many fickle folks, so many who aren’t willing to extend genuine grace and lasting love, and I’ve come to this. Jealousy, pride, and the unwillingness to honestly look at our own frailties and flaws leads us to hold others to an unattainable standard.

Have you ever heard anyone say, “well, I’ve done wrong, but I’ve never done THAT!” When we start measuring ourselves in such a way and telling ourselves that somehow we are above or better than others, we build our contingency frameworks.

I’ve said those words myself and many others that I shudder to remember. I’ve no doubt wounded plenty of folks along the way and for that I am continually sorry. I am thankful for a new day, for deeper understanding, for forgiveness. As I’ve shed many tears, lost countless nights sleep, and walked many lonely miles, I’ve learned some things.

Looking at our own failures in the brilliant light of day without throwing up excuses to lighten the blow to our hearts and minds brings about a humility necessary for being able to offer genuine love and unconditional friendship. It doesn’t mean our feelings will never be hurt again or even that we won’t suffer through more broken relationships, but it does mean we don’t have to be the ones to inflict the hurt, to cause the break. It means we can give love, extend “charity” that will never fail. Even when others choose to walk away from us, we can watch them go with love for them in our hearts and a true and abiding desire for their good.

There is an enduring peace that comes when we lay aside judgement and jealousy and choose instead to love and forgive. There is a rightness we can feel with the Lord when we recognize we have all the good things in our lives not dependent on anything we have earned, but instead because of His perfect grace and mercy. It helps me to feel far more merciful to others, after all, on what basis would I feel otherwise in light of the truth of my own condition?

May we all choose to walk in the light of the truth of grace and in the forgiveness that has been extended to us through Christ’s sacrifice on the cross. I pray we all choose love over strife and forgiveness over hate.

1 Corinthians 13 “Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity (love), I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity (love), I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity (love), it profits me nothing. Charity (love) suffers long, and is kind; charity (love) envies not; charity (love) vaunts not itself, is not puffed up. Does not behave itself unseemly, seeks not her own, is not easily provoked, thinks no evil; Rejoices not in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; Bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Charity (love) never fails: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away. For we know in part, and we prophesy in part. But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away. When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things. For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known. And now abides faith, hope, charity (love), these three; but the greatest of these is charity (love).”

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2 Responses to Friendship…for all of us who have struggled with it

  1. jamie howell says:

    Hey Andrea,
    Thanks for another very nice blog post. It reminded me of my teen years, and adult years before Christ came into my life. When I would meet a new person, immediately I would search out their flaws. Most of my really good friends in those years were from early childhood. As I grew and matured, this thing I did continued, to a point. I now wonder how I came to like anyone. What made me decide that I would do this to some, but not to others? Now I realize why I did this thing. It was not them at all, but my need to feel superior. The real reason I had to find things wrong with others was my own insecurity. As I read your blog, I was thinking of the last line of “The Love Chapter”, so I thank you for including that scripture at the end.
    I also believe that I am not the only person in the world with this condition. I think it’s safe to say I have past that point in my life. Since Christ came into me, I search myself regularly, and ask God to do the same, and show me the errors of my ways. David did this and was refered to as “a man afte God’s own heart.” I know I’ll never achieve that status, but it’s something to aspire to.
    Jesus said “remove the beam from your own eye, then you will be able to see clearly to help your neighbor remove the speck from his eye.” What a profound statement. If we all could have that attitude making and keeping friends would be so much easier. If we all lived a 1Corinithians 13 life, how beautiful would this world be? I consider you and Erick my friends, and I know Lisa does too. I pray there is never a time that is not the case. God calls us all to differnet places at different times for His service, but I believe He has put us all together in our Sunday School class for a reason. I believe we learn alot from each other. I know it has changed my life for the better. We don’t know what the future holds for any of us, but you will always be my friend.

  2. andreastiles says:

    Thank you Jamie. I really needed that right about now. I thought of that same scripture about the beam in the eye after I posted this. It fits well with what was on my heart. I think insecurity is often the root cause of putting others down and so often we are not aware of what we are doing or why we are doing it. So many things have changed in me over the years and as I reflect I understand things that I surely couldn’t recognize at the time they occurred. Another reason I am so thankful for grace, and one of the big reasons I spend time writing these things. For so many years I struggled so bad and I so wanted help, and now I want others to have help too, and if someone can find encouragement and strength from reading my ramblings, then that pleases me well.

    Hope you and Lisa have a wonderful Friday and I look forward to seeing you both soon. We certainly feel the blessing of your friendship in our hearts and lives.

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