A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for a time of adversity.
~ Proverbs 17:17 (NIV)
All of us are in need of authentic relationships. It is by Yahweh’s design…we were made that way. We are not loners; we cannot make it in this walk without relationships. There will be no one there to counteract the lies we tell ourselves. There will be no one to give us a hug when we desperately need it. There will be no one to wipe away our tears. There will be no one to bring out the best and worst in us. Proverbs 27:7 states, “As iron sharpens iron, so does one person sharpens another.” There will be no one to pray on our behalf. There will be no one to steer us back to Yahweh when our emotions are keeping us bound to fleshly comforts. We NEED a friend that we can depend on.
“One who has unreliable friends soon comes to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother,” states Proverbs 18:24 (NIV). Unreliable friends…these are those we don’t want. These are the so-called friend who will tell us what our tickling ear wants to hear. They will not tell us that what we have on is not cool. She might say, “Girl, that’s not really bad. You can go to the interview with that on.” Not understanding or caring that great first impressions often win the job. We don’t need friends that smile in our faces and stab us in the back at the same time. We don’t need friends who placate us, bow down to our demands or be passive with us. We don’t need half-truths, half the story, or half the heart. We don’t need people in our lives that abuse us, take us for granted, disrespect our time, and use us for what we have. We don’t need friends we can’t depend on. Proverbs 25:19 (NIV) states, “Like a broken tooth or a lame foot is reliance on the unfaithful in a time of trouble.”
A friend relationship is one that operates solely from a standpoint of love. It is a give and take relationship. It is lifting up and encouraging our friend when he/she is down and rejoicing in accomplishments. Friendships certainly require death of the flesh. A times, a friend is needed in the wee hours of the morning. Are you willing to get up to answer the call? A friend is needed to go to the hospital at a moment’s notice. Are you willing to head out without hesitation or thought? A friend maybe needed to clean up a mess. Will you do it without complaint? A friend will correct us…even when it hurts to do so; including a strong rebuke when we are straying off what we know to be true. Proverbs 27:5-6 (NIV) clearly illustrates my point, “Better is open rebuke than hidden love. Wounds from a friend can be trusted, but an enemy multiplies kisses.”
A friend will push us to move toward our goals, dreams and desires. A friend is a spark that lights the fire up under us and pointed-toe heel to squash the fear that resides within. A friend will push us toward our best. In important friendships, trust, transparency and accountability, on both sides, must take precedence over apprehension over what the other might think. And last, humility is key within a friend relationship…where one is not afraid to apologize or give up a desire to help out.
I’m truly grateful to Yahweh for the friends He has placed in my life…long term, short time, and even those for a fleeting season. My friends have helped me through the toughest times of my life. One friend sang one of my favorite songs on the day after my father’s death while another wiped my runny nose and tears. My dearest friend has stuck with me for over thirty years, and I’m eternally grateful for her. My other best friend, my twin sister, has supported and encouraged me on every endeavor, especially grad school and allowing me to play with her children whenever I wanted to.
My church friends have loved me, supported me, spoke hard truths, taught me and encouraged me. I’ve learned a great deal from them in my spiritual journey. My work friends have helped me make it through some trying times, especially when dealing with crazy people who have no regard for anyone but themselves. There was a time in my life where I thought that I didn’t have any “real” friends that would come through for me, even after I stepped up to the plate. I falsely believed that I either wasn’t worthy or that “they” just didn’t care. Yahweh has shown me otherwise. I know I can count on my dear friends for anything, can you? Have your say?
“Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up.” ~ Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 (NIV)
For the next few weeks I will write about relationships. The reason for this is because soon enough we will need to lend a hand to others or be on the receiving end of assistance. Now, I don’t advise staying in relationships for the sake of one. Some folks we ought not to be friends with and that may include some family members. What I am advocating is for mutually positive relationships, where encouragement, support, spiritual love, and even correction are exchanged.
“In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset
as (Yeshua)Christ Jesus:” ~ Philippians 2:5 (NIV)
There are some people that are in our lives for a season, some lasting longer than others. I certainly believe Yahweh always makes use of our relationships. We have people in our lives that are only mentors, others that teach, and a few that have had similar experiences to walk us through the difficult times. We also have folks that are specifically in place to help rid us of the things that are of no use to us or the Kingdom…those folks that show us how to be humble or compassionate, correct and rebuke, and a particular person that is a thorn in our side; one that we have no power to remove, but causes us to see how “we” are the problem, not them.
To relate is to connect. In relationships we must be “real” with one another. There is no time for not being authentic; no hiding, no deception, no inhibition. There are periods when we have needs, and because no one really knows us, we miss out. It’s hard for a person that is able and willing to give to discern needs when they aren’t spoken. We don’t have the gift of reading minds. I’ve had friends in my past that only provided half the information when they are seeking help. How can anyone give wisdom or assistance when they don’t know the whole story? Was something being hidden on purpose to keep me from withholding something that should have been withheld? I don’t know, but what I’ve learned in those situations is not to give until I know them and the story. I no longer want to block what Yahweh is doing or enable someone. Being a friend is sometimes saying no.
There are some folks that should be in our lives, but aren’t because of conflict. Discern who they are, and deal with it. The first step is humility. We must humble ourselves, and communicate to the person a heartfelt apology and/or forgiveness. From there, if the other is willing, begin to rebuild the relationship. A few ways are to provide unconditional love, be trustworthy, and willing to work on the relationship so that it becomes healthy and mutually beneficial.
Now, if you have a friend or a few that you know will be there, through thick and thin, I called you blessed.
“My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” John 15:12-13 (NIV)
How will you go about building or creating valuable relationships in 2012? Have your say…