I was that woman. The outgoing one who could talk to anyone, made friends easily and was comfortable being herself. I couldn’t relate to the fear so many women felt in stepping out to make a new friend. What was the big deal?
Then came the friendship that changed it all.
I thought we were on the same page regarding our relationship—good friends. She was also sure we were on the same page—best friends. I started to feel claustrophobic. Do you see the train wreck coming? Once I realized what was going on, I attempted to do the wise thing (NOT!) and avoid conflict by backing away slowly. No surprise—that didn’t work. Once we finally had the hard conversation, our relationship was beyond repairable. I felt absolutely awful for wounding her so deeply—I never intended to hurt her! Further, I bound myself up in regret for not handling the situation with more maturity.
Suddenly, I understood the apprehension to initiate friendship.
Feeling the pain of a relationship gone wrong, I could grasp the idea that maybe it was better to be alone than to open myself up to another emotional trauma. Who needs friends anyway?! But, we weren’t designed to live in isolation. God Himself lives in community—in constant communion with Jesus and the Holy Spirit. Since He created us in His image, we’re also meant to live in relationship—with Him and others. (I realize there are many introverts who just cringed.) Remember in Genesis 2:18 when God said, “It’s not good for man to be alone”? That’s why long stretches of time without meaningful contact with others feels so incredibly lonely—so wrong. We are supposed to live together—as marvelous, mundane, or messy as that may be.
Sadly, it wasn’t long after Creation before sin fractured the harmonious, beautiful relationships God intended. And, we’ve been doing a bang-up job of carrying on that tradition ever since—hence the fate of my friendship. Which leaves us at a crossroads—if it’s clear God doesn’t want us to be alone, but sin assures we’ll screw up our relationships, how are we supposed to proceed?
In His amazing ability to work everything for good, God used my unfortunate experience for growth. He helped me see that I’d been relying on my own wisdom and strength in friendship. Trusting that God wouldn’t give us an innate desire to be with others without also providing guidance, I dug into the Bible to discover what He said about friendship.
Scripture offers advice about choosing friends (1 Cor. 15:33), the faithfulness of companions (Proverbs 17:17), establishing boundaries (Proverbs 25:17), and how we can help each other grow (Proverbs 27:17). But, God’s Word also allows us to emotionally experience stories of loyalty and compassion (Ruth and Naomi, David and Jonathan), as well as painful moments of betrayal, abandonment and rejection in friendship (David, Jesus, Paul).
Scripture reveals that you’re not alone if you’ve been blessed by a deep, abiding friendship. Praise God today for that precious gift! Nor are you alone if you’ve been betrayed or hurt and are fearful to expose your heart again. Marinate in the truth that God will never leave you or forsake you. He is your refuge and strength. Allow your heart to remember the hurts of your past just long enough to learn, grow and heal, but not so long that you begin to dwell in regret, anger, or fear. Then, soaked in divine wisdom and strength, move forward in faith…with God.
Let’s talk about it! How have friendships, whether good or bad, shaped who you are today?
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