There are people who are present in our lives for a season then distance and circumstances cause that friendship to fade. Thank God for the friends who joined my world for a lifetime. I have been blessed with several of those who have been present for thirty years or longer.
Friendship isn’t always easy. It takes deliberate effort at times to forgive people who have hurt us, behaved badly toward us, or who are at times absolutely hard to get along with. Friendships are not perfect because we are not perfect individuals. We bring our “baggage” into our relationships just like other people bring theirs. On both sides of a friendship, there are times when we share the best of ourselves, but there are likely to be times when we also show the worst of ourselves.
One of my favorite Bible verses is Proverbs 27:17. “As iron sharpens iron, so a man sharpens the countenance of his friend.” I always understood this to mean that our friendships strengthen us and knock the rough edges off of us. To me this means being faithful, loyal, and truthful. Iron is a tough metal. Then it meets with the sharpening process, it is more useful, and more valuable because of it.
“The wounds of a friend are faithful, but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful.” (Proverbs 27:6) If you’ve ever had a friend say something you didn’t want to hear, or if you’ve had to be the one to say it, the words may not have been easy to deal with, but knowing they are given out of love makes them easier to hear or say.
I am thankful for friends who love me enough to stand beside of me during tough times, but also love me enough to hold me to a higher standard. A person who agrees with me about every single thing, never challenges me, and goes along with any behavior or crazy idea I might have without giving me their counterpoint really isn’t the best kind of friend. Challenging someone to look at their behavior, choices, or lifestyle differently isn’t always easy, or pleasant, but it is in some ways the responsibility of a true friend to be willing to do that.
I want to be the kind of friend who prays for the individuals closest to me, loves them when they are lovable and when they are not, and speaks the truth in love. I want to be the kind of friend who doesn’t give up on a person, but still has enough sense to walk away when the relationship has run its course.
I try to avoid people who constantly only wants their own way, try to bully me into doing what they want, and constantly expect me to be available at their convenience. That kind of a person isn’t much of a friend at all. Healthy friendships are a balance of give and take.
Perhaps the truest identifier of friendship is when they survive disagreements, struggles, distance, silence, illnesses, changes in family status, and life changes that come over time. In the last couple of weeks I have spent time with a variety of friends locally and in different places. Each one of those people holds a different place in my life. Each is uniquely different. Each is cherished and important. Each one takes effort on my part and from the person on the other end.
Friendships are one of the most important things in life and worth working on through the good times and bad. I am truly thankful for all those people in my life whom I call friend.
Reach Judith Victoria Hensley at [email protected] or on Facebook. Check out her blog: One Step Beyond the Door.