So here’s the tea, I wrote my last post, you know the one about me being a bad friend? I wrote that probably a week or two before I actually posted it. Anyway, it’s been a little bit and I wanted to make a part two. I’ve been in lots of prayer about who I am called to be as a friend and what that actually means. I’ve received some amazing advice from individuals who reached out. It’s all been really helpful. There’s still so much to learn and take everything I say with a grain of salt, but here’s what I’ve been thinking about since that last friendship conversation.
I highly suggest reading “Messy Beautiful Friendship” by Christine Hoover as her knowledge comes from the Bible but I would also suggest reading the Bible.
Take this post as me processing my feelings, not necessarily as absolute truth. Skeptical friend, stay with me.
YOU’RE NOT THEIR GOD.
This is where I probably struggle most. Stemming from my own insecurities and arrogance, I want to be needed by my friends. I want to be thought of as reliable. I want to be needed. Don’t get me wrong. It’s good to be reliable. It’s good to let your actions follow your mouth. It’s good to be helpful. In fact, I’d say all of those things are biblical, but what’s important is to realize we’re not God. God uses us, yes. God works through us, yes. But people need Jesus, they don’t necessarily need me. Regardless if I’m present in their life or not, God works in and through people. I’m just another ordinary person trying to do my best to live a life that chases Jesus.
Let me be honest, I absolutely subconsciously try to be what they need. I’ll show them what love is. I’ll show them how committed I am. I’ll show them ___________ so they know they need me. The attributes aren’t the problem, but it could very much be the underlying motivation. Who is getting the glory? You or God? Who are you lifting up by “meeting” their needs? God or you? I like meeting people’s needs, but it begs the question if I’m trying to be that person, where does God fit in this relationship?
KEEP CHRIST IN THE CENTER, ALWAYS.
This ties in nicely with my second point, it’s important to keep Christ in the center. Making sure that God gets the glory regardless. This means seeking first the Kingdom of God as Matthew 6:33 puts it. This means knowing who Jesus is and understanding that He must be the foundation of all your relationships.
Christians, I’m talking to you specifically, make friends with Christians and with non-Christians. Treat them with the same love, grace and mercy that God gives you. You love them because He first loved all of us. Be friends with people of all nations, backgrounds, religions, etc. They are all God’s beautifully created children. Read that again.
Admittedly, it’s easier to keep Christ in the center in friendships with other Christians, but I often struggle with what that looks like with my non-Christian friends. What does it look like when only one party is a Jesus-follower? Here are a couple things I thought of. I need to be bold about my faith. When things go well, I praise God. When things don’t go well, I praise God. It’s important that I pray for my non-Christian friends just as much as I pray for my Christian friends. Regardless, it’s still about seeking Jesus first. It’s about living a life that honors Jesus. It’s understanding that I’m not God, but I can show you what it means to live a life as a Christ-follower. It means sharing your faith and being open to discussions about the Bible. It means treating everyone well. It means loving people even if you don’t like them. Look at the life of Jesus.
Some people you become friends with don’t know who Jesus is. Maybe you are their first impression of what a Christ-follower looks and acts like. Consider this, Christians. Lead and live by example. Skeptical friends, look at how your Christian friend lives their life simply because they love Jesus. Ponder how they see the world and their belief in God shapes everything about their life. This is your chance to ask them what they believe and how they know the gospel to be true. Christians, this is your time to share your testimony.
These are a couple Bible verses that come to mind when I think about living a life that honors Jesus:
- “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. The law is not against such things.” Galatians 5:22-23
- “Love consists in this: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, if God loved us in this way, we also must love one another.” 1 John 4:10-11
- “Everyone should look not to his own interests, but rather to the interests of others.” Philippians 2:4
- “Love one another deeply as brothers and sisters. Take the lead in honoring one another.” Romans 12:10
- “Just as you want others to do for you, do the same for them.” Luke 6:31
- “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” Mark 10:45
Look into these verses, friends. Make sure you understand the context. I want to be able to honor God by loving His people and loving His people in a way that honors God.
YOU WILL DISAPPOINT AND BE DISAPPOINTED.
I’m a perfectionist especially when it comes to self-improvement. I know I will never be perfect, but emotionally it can be heartbreaking to know when I’ve hurt others. It’s hard to constantly work on being the better version of yourself yet still fall short. But thank goodness for the grace and the love of God. He loves me even with all my flaws.
Yet with all that being said, it’s hard to know you’ve disappointed someone and hard when they disappoint you. But that’s what you get when you have a world of imperfect people. It’s important to extend grace to people and to have very low expectations of others. I say this but I think it’s worth mentioning that we need to be wise with who we consider friends and who we consider just as God’s people. The book of Proverbs is filled with wisdom on who is worth considering a friend. Avoid those who gossip. Avoid those who are passive-aggressive. Avoid hot-tempered people. Seek friends that are honest. Seek friends that will stick by your side even when life feels impossible. That’s your quick summary of Proverbs, but do your research, there’s so much more to it. Do your research, don’t just take my word for it.
But let me rephrase what I mean by having low expectations, understand that you’re setting expectations on imperfect people. We’re all going to fall short. Grace is important. Having hard conversations is important. Have those difficult conversations earlier rather than later, trust me. Forgiveness and love are essential. When your friends don’t meet your expectations and you get unreasonably upset over it, I’d argue that it says more about you than it does about them. I know in my case when that’s happened, it’s pointed out my perfectionist nature and how much I rely on my friends to meet my needs instead of God. Oh, how the conviction is so powerful!
I am not the Messiah. They are not the Messiah. The only one who can meet my needs is Jesus who is the Messiah. That’s key.
FRIENDSHIP IS A GIFT FROM GOD.
People are also a gift from God. Truly love God’s children for who they are and who God is calling them to be. That doesn’t mean allowing sinful and mean-spirited behavior, but that does mean loving them with all their quirks, passions, hobbies, and ambitions. Root for your friends. Keep them accountable. Allow them to keep you accountable. Be friends with people who root for you and the way God works in your life. We don’t know how long some people are going to be in our lives. Some for three months, some for a year, some for maybe decades…but they’re a gift from God, in one way or another, whether it was a beautiful or difficult learning experience. God is good regardless. My Christian friends, it’s an absolute game-changer when you look at people as God’s creations. You see them differently and everything about them is mesmerizing. Try it. Look at your friends in the way you would look at a pink and purple sunset or the view from Franklin Falls. Just, look at them and think about Psalm 139. They’re beautifully and wonderfully made, every single person on this earth. People are just so cool.
Your friends aren’t your God. Neither are you. But they’re gifts and they’re God’s people and we absolutely love them regardless. To my past, current and future friends, I’m rooting for you. I’m rooting for God’s work in your life. I’ve seen how God has and continues to use you all. You are all so loved, keyword: all.
And that’s about it for my thoughts. Again, take it all with a grain of salt. But until next time, thank you for reading. Friendships are hard and I’m not even close to knowing how to be a good friend, but I pray for healthy and loving friendships, for all of you. It’s important to have a community that will root for you and encourages you to grow. Through Christ, you’re made worthy and you’re loved fully by Him alone. Know this.
No one has greater love than this: to lay down his life for his friends.