Once They Were Friends

broken-plane-leaf 2

When I was little, I laid on my bed many nights and cried into my pillow for a friend.

But things are different now. Somewhere along the line, God allowed so many dear ones to spring up along my path. Now, if I’m crying into my pillow, it is more likely to be about the friends that I used to have.

Nearly every one of you, I suspect, has lost a friend.

A move across the country. A new school. A marriage. An argument. A choice.

There are very few things that scar a heart as much as a discarded friendship.

I’ve felt it.

There is helplessness, when despite all your love, they still fade away. There is anger, because how dare she just leave, after all these years? And, sometimes, there is guilt, because she wasn’t the only one who walked away, or kept holding a grudge.

So, what do we do? Shrug it off and move on? Close ourselves up? Choose better friends? Try to never say anything that might ever offend anyone?

If you’re recovering from a friendship-gone-awry, here are a few things to remember.8de599e2752979482266eae519018a25

1. If you’ve tried your best to reconcile, that’s all you can do.

Whether it was her “fault” or yours, it doesn’t matter. If you need to go to her and apologize–or offer forgiveness–do it.

But after you’ve humbly sought to restore the relationship and she still won’t have anything to do with you, you can’t do anything else.

Strike that. You can pray.

I know. That helpless feeling creeps over you and it feels like a prayer might be the most powerless thing you can imagine.

After you’ve confessed your sin or humbly offered restoration, keep living. Move forward. If you have God’s forgiveness, you have what you need to go on. By His grace, your friend may one day see the truth. Or she may not.

But after you’ve done your best, it’s okay to go on with life.

2. Love her from afar.

I could tell you to forget about her.

But you spent nights laughing till 3 in the morning with her. You saw each other at your best and worst. She holds some of your deepest secrets and knows your wildest dreams. She shares some of your most-valued beliefs. You’ve giggled on long car rides with the stereo cranked up, singing along to your favorite CD.

You’ve shared so much love and life.

And now that she’s gone, you miss her. And you probably always will.

Several years ago, I lost one of my best friends. It was sudden, drastic, and final. She dropped off the face of my world, without even a word to me. Others in her life received her hate-filled, backstabbing, anger. I didn’t even get a “Goodbye, I don’t want to be your friend anymore.” I didn’t even rate high enough for that.

The past 6 years of silence have not dimmed my memory. I haven’t seen her at all. A few reports from other friends, a few added sorrows when I hear of the suffering her choices have caused. And you know what? I still love her desperately.

Maybe I don’t cry myself to sleep like I did when she first left. Maybe I’m not picking up the freshly-shattered pieces of trust. But deep in my chest is an ache that is still there. I think it will always be there.

I never got a chance to try for reconciliation. I may not even cross paths with her again. But I have spent the last 6 years loving her from afar, smiling at her memory, tearing up a little at the old pictures of us in our cowgirl hats and bandanas, with the little-girl innocence that we both somehow lost. I can get lost a long time in the photos of her clear eyes, wondering where it all went wrong, wondering why I didn’t notice she was slipping away.

You lost a friend. You may not be in her life anymore.

But don’t stop loving her. She still needs your prayers. And you also need something — you need the bittersweetness of the memories you made together. Don’t throw out the gift she made you, or toss out the photo album of you two together. God gave you those moments, and they were full and true and sweet. Remember them. Savor them, however short.

3. Don’t become like her.

If the end of the friendship was her doing — if you’ve done your best to make things right — then you have been wronged terribly.

Whether it began as a silly argument, a drastic misunderstanding, or a sudden change in her personality, don’t let the hurt she inflicted on you make you bitter.

Friends have shared with me about the lost relationships that still weigh them down. Whether you live 200 miles away or cross paths with your former friend every week, you will still hurt. You’ll have different challenges to sort through, but you are still an abandoned friend.

And it hurts dreadfully.

Often, she is hurting too. It’s not an excuse, but it is the truth. As much as you’ve been hurt, remember that she is a person too, with a complex life and maybe surprising reasons behind her betrayal.

Forgive her. Whatever the reason — big, or small, or completely unknown — forgive her. As you were forgiven all those terrible things that Christ bore for you with joy, forgive her.

4. Relationships are complicated and hard and heartbreaking — and worth it.

You may not want to try again.

Sometimes I get so weary of the hard work of communicating and navigating misunderstanding, that I just want to hide. “People are so complicated,” I mutter. “Life would be so simple without people.” While I’d never want to actually try life without others, sometimes it seems that there are endless troubles wherever there is more than one person involved. It’s enough to drive a girl crazy.

Don’t let the scars keep you from loving again.

Because there are true friends to be found. They will take effort, trust, maintenance, forgiveness, humility. But they exist.

Keep loving and reaching out. Friendship is worth it. So worth it.

Related Post: “Putting the ‘Forever’ in Friend”

5. When all else fails, Jesus knows.

I can say all sorts of true and sentimental things. But one thing remains.

He was having the worst night of his life. Off-the-charts stress. All His buddies were taking a nap when He needed their camaraderie the most. All except one.

That one was coming now, his pale face flickering in the approaching torch light. He was coming silently, standing between a pair of rough temple guards.

And that one friend walked straight up, mustered up his nerve, and kissed Him on the cheek.

Acclaimed writer Michael Card sings these words, words that resonate with everyone who has ever been betrayed:

“Why did it have to be a friend
Who chose to betray the Lord?
Why did he use a kiss to show them?
That’s not what a kiss is for.

Only a friend can betray a friend.
A stranger has nothing to gain,
And only a friend comes close enough
To ever cause so much pain.”

– from “Why” by Michael Card.

So when my words run out, my encouragement fails to touch the depth of your hurt, my sharing in your loss echoes empty, this truth can hold you up.

Jesus knows.

 He is not an untouched Stranger, a heavenly man who felt none of our pain. He took it all, tried it all, died bearing it all.

And God took on flesh and bared his face to the mocking kiss of a man who played at morality for 3 years, who put on a role for his own gain, who lived moment after moment in traitorous, silent scoffing at the works of the Christ he claimed to believe.

“And He’s kneeling in the garden, as silent as a Stone
All His friends are sleeping and He’s weeping all alone

And the man of all sorrows, he never forgot
What sorrow is carried by the hearts that he bought
So when the questions dissolve into the silence of God
The aching may remain but the breaking does not”

– from “The Silence of God” by Andrew Peterson

So when you’re crying, alone in your bed, remembering that one-time friend…this is all I have to say.

He is not untouched. He knows. And His ears never weary of hearing our cries. His arms never tire of pulling off our burdens.

Once they were friends. Now we only remember.

But one Friend never fails. And thank God — thank God! — for that firm foundation, that soul-anchor.

Because, now, I can love without fear. Whether it is returned or not.

 “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

– Romans 8:38-39, KJV –


9 Secrets about Relationships with Guys, Part II


“A lady’s imagination is very rapid; it jumps from admiration to love, from love to matrimony in a moment.”

― Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice ―

Last week we looked at the first 5 things I’ve learned about guy/girl relationships. This week, let’s dive into the last 4. Have any thoughts, comments, questions, or insights to share? Leave a comment and I might just write a post about it!

6. Men are Not All in Mortal Danger

This is pretty embarrassing to say out loud, but… Every guy I meet is not in mortal danger of falling helplessly in love with me.

He just isn’t.

Same goes for you. I know it sounds silly when I just say it like that, but I think girls harbor this feeling more than we’d like to admit.

Sometimes we get so nervous around guys because we’re secretly afraid that we’re so irresistible that just one word from us will send them reeling into the throes of unrequited love. If God wants us to get married, he has spouses in store for us. They will love and appreciate us — but that doesn’t mean every male on the planet will.

You are a pretty special girl, but, thankfully, God gave guys preferences too. They aren’t in mortal danger in your presence after all.

7. Hiding from Them Isn’t Any Better Than Flirting

I learned this one from reading the book It’s (Not) That Complicated. The authors suggest that the same sin behind flirting is at the root of ignoring the guys around us: We’re not really loving them.

Is it love to value my feelings/awkwardness/embarrassment more than I value common politeness and kindness? Definitely not!

I once was so terrified of talking to guys that I would “hide,” ducking into halls, rushing through doors, or going the long way around in order to avoid them. This idea really convicted me!

Instead of thinking about my own fear, I turned my thoughts to showing respectful friendliness and encouragement to the guys I encountered. It took a lot of practice (and still does!), but recognizing my lack of Christian love really revolutionized my approach to friendships with young men.

8. Your Age Matters

Not too long ago, I realized something. Age matters, when you’re talking about how a girl should approach relationships with boys.

I am not talking about what age a person should date, or court, or anything like that. I’m just saying that I think about my relationships with guys very differently now, at age 22 than I did at age 15.

When I was 15, my main concern was trying to not think about guys too much because I wasn’t ready to think too much about what I wanted in a spouse. It just wasn’t time. 

Now? Well, now is a little different. When I reached marriageable age, I had a strange shift in thinking. Now, thoughts of what is important in a marriage are a lot more relevant than they would have been at age 13 or even 17. Then, I just wanted to stay undistracted because I wasn’t even ready for marriage. Now, although I still desire to be fully immersed in the tasks God has given me for today, it is wise for me to spend more time readying myself for being a wife and mother. Then, it wasn’t time. Now, it is perhaps much closer.

So if you’re 12 and having trouble with too many thoughts about boys, this is probably not the time to start planning your wedding colors and scouting for potential grooms. Now is your time to grow in your family relationships and your walk with God. Trust me, 22 is right around the corner. 🙂

And if you’re 22, don’t be afraid of giving marriage at least a minimal amount of thought. By all means, stay focused on your current responsibilities, but realize that a wise woman looks ahead and prepares herself for the days to come. Marriage is a lovely, precious gift, and God may give it to you one of these days.

9. Be Yourself

It’s well and good to say “be normal.” But…what does that mean, exactly? Be what other people think is normal?

Or actually be you…which, come to think of it, may not be that “normal” at all?

If you are focused on your relationship with Christ and sincere about not tearing down your brothers in Christ with immodest dress or flirtatious behavior, just be you. 

I have struggled with this too. I know a lot of people, many of whom have different convictions than my family and I do. When I know I am going to be with certain people, I often feel the urge to hide my personal choices or keep my enthusiasm for a topic to myself.

My conclusion? If I have my own Biblically-derived convictions about something, I am not going to hide it. While I don’t have to go around announcing my perspective, explaining my perceptions of modesty, or pushing my favorite music on others, I am also not going to act like I am someone else.

I am me.  And that’s okay.

Well! That was a lot of fun. I hope you’ve enjoyed hearing about the 9 things I’ve learned about relationships with guys over the past 10 years or so. If you missed the first part of this list, you can read 9 Secrets about Relationships with Guys, Part I here.

Have any other topics you want me to cover? Email me at called2joy@gmail.com or leave a comment below!

 Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God…In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent HIs only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him.”

– 1 John 4:7,9, NKJV –

9 Secrets about Relationships with Guys, Part I


“Gravitation can not be held responsible for people falling in love.”

– Albert Einstein –

In the last 10 years, I’ve learned a lot of things about guys…and how I as a girl should behave around them. These 9 things aren’t really secrets, actually…just things that have encouraged, inspired, and sustained me as I navigate the strange and rough waters of young adulthood.

I hope to debunk some myths, relieve some fears, and inspire you with the tools you need to show godly love to the young men in your life.

1. “Crushes” Aren’t Always Bad

Before you start running the other way, let me clarify.

It is okay to like someone. It is not okay to be obsessed.

God made girls with antennae that perk up whenever a fellow walks into the room. We have emotions that go on red alert when a guy starts to be kind to us. We have hearts that suddenly start doing backflips in our chests.

That’s normal, actually.

So if you find that you actually…eh, like a guy, it’s not the end of the world. God made us to have an appreciation for men. That is a good thing.

But here’s the key: You can admire someone, enjoy being with them, and even have hope for “something more” one day without letting thoughts of them take over your life. 

Remember, a guy will not make you happy. It may seem like they can, but they can’t. So if you start dreaming of Mr. Right saving your from your unhappy existence, you will be disappointed.

So…what’s the verdict? Is a crush always a horrible affliction? I think my friend Emily sums it up well:

“After a series of paralyzing crushes in my midteens that I denied even to myself, I came to the conclusion that a crush is a period of time when you see a person at their best without the balance of faults. It’s not always that your view of them is inaccurate, only that it is incomplete. The solution, therefore, is not to blind yourself to their true strengths — this dishonors both them and their Maker! — but to seek the complete portrait that comes with time and a more mature relationship.”

2. Boys are People

This is obvious, but boys are people too. They have emotions. They have dreams, and fears, and loves, and hurts.

So don’t treat them like objects. They are people made in God’s image, just like you. Please, please, don’t forget that.

And on that note, guys are also human. Meaning, they aren’t perfect.

Don’t think that your “special guy” is the only faultless one on the earth. He isn’t. He has struggles and sins just like you do. So don’t idolize him, or have unrealistic expectations. People — including Mr. Right –will fail you. Be ready for that, focusing on the grace that you’ve been given by God. That grace is what will glue your future relationship together.

3. What Treating Them Like Brothers Doesn’t Mean

I sometimes have trouble with the idea of treating a young man “like a brother in Christ.” Does that phrase ever bother you?

This concept comes from the apostle Paul’s directive to the young pastor Timothy:

Do not rebuke an older man, but exhort him as a father, younger men as brothers, older women as mothers, younger women as sisters, with all purity” (1 Timothy 5:1-2, NKJV).

But…what does this really mean when put into practice? And what does it not mean?

Honestly, this one question could be an entire blog post. (Let me know if you’re interested in hearing more, and I’ll write one!)

But to narrow it down, treating a young man like a brother “with all purity” means that you’re not looking on him solely as an object of your romantic dreams or a way to get what you want. It means that you care about him enough to want what’s best for him, not just what would make you happy.

It means that his relationship to Christ is more important to you than his relationship with you. And it means that you’re looking at more than his exterior (handsome or homely though it may be). It means you value him as a person, not just a love interest.

But what doesn’t this verse mean?  

In my understanding, this verse does not mean you can’t ever think of a guy romantically. How would people ever get married? “Oh, sorry, but the Bible says I have to always think of you as just a brother in Christ.”

So when people say, “I’m just thinking of him/her as a brother/sister in Christ,” that’s wonderful. It is a very important thing to keep in mind, so that we do not objectify those around us.

But it also doesn’t mean that you can’t ever think “Oh, that’s the kind of guy I want to marry” or even “I think I would be happy if he was ever interested in me.”

Related Post: “To See Like You” 

4.  Guys Like Real Girls

This is super tough for guys. Girls can act so strange! I ought to know — I am one!

It is such a relief to guys when girls are “real” around them. (And guys, we girls like it when you’re normal, too!) So when you’re conversing with the fellows in your life, just be a real, genuine person. Say sincere things.

It is such a huge relief to talk to a person who doesn’t have an agenda. Be a friend, first and foremost.

5. Your Heart Might Not Shrink (The Truth about “Giving Away Pieces”)

When I was younger, I learned so much from several conservative Christian conferences my family attended. One of these conferences in particular taught about the importance of guarding your heart and not “giving away pieces” of it to every guy you meet.

But what does “giving away pieces of your heart” really mean?

Serial dating is one thing — yes, that’s a big problem. But for the average Christian girl who’d just like to grow up and marry a nice godly man, how helpful is this advice?

In the years since attending these conferences, I think I’ve seen a little of both sides of this coin. So I have a proposition.

Maybe caring about people and getting hurt isn’t the worst thing.

Yes, there is definitely a balance here. I think girls should be wise and careful about the boys they have as friends. I definitely don’t think that it is beneficial for girls of any age to walk around with their heads in the clouds always dreaming about the latest love of their life, or to go about throwing themselves at guys. That’s definitely not what I’m saying.

But I do think that we can put too much emphasis on keeping ourselves “pure,” when what we’re really doing is blockading our hearts against pain.

Sure, I believe it is unwise for a girl to throw herself into love at every turn. (One way I guard against this is by consciously avoiding the phrase “in love” regarding my feelings for guys I admire).

Sometimes, there are good precautions to keep your emotions in check. Over the years, I’ve had to make various decisions, such as times of limiting my consumption of books/movies with a dominant romantic subplot, or intentionally not popping up in every place where a guy friend tends to be.

But trying to avoid heart-fragmentation is no excuse for not loving your brothers in Christ. They are still fellow Christians. They are still that neighbor Jesus said to love (Mark 12:31). How can you do that if you never let yourself get close enough to care?

 Life has heartache, and sometimes loving someone — even as “just a friend” — is heart wrenching. And sometimes it is pure joy.

soft heart
“”Having a soft heart in a cruel world is courage, not weakness.” – Katherine Henson

Painful relationships don’t indicate that you’re doing it wrong. It doesn’t automatically mean you’ve failed to keep your heart pure. It might actually mean that you’re sincerely caring in a broken world. That’s nothing to be ashamed of.

Parents are a huge help in this — my mom and I have an extremely open relationship, and I keep her posted on my thoughts of every guy I know (and every girl too, for that matter!) My dad and I have also had several conversations about the young men I know, so that we are all “in the loop.” I can’t express how incredible this has been. I get to hear immediate feedback from them about my friendships. Plus, their years of experience and logical approach help me fend off overly-emotional reactions.

So…does liking a boy mean that you’re giving away part of your heart?


You might be developing an unhelpful habit of unrealistic obsession that will get in the way of a successful marriage later.

Or it could mean that you are learning how to navigate a very complicated world of human emotions, relying with all your might on your God and on the wise counselors He’s placed in your life.

I will testify to this: I’ve had dreams die and hopes turn out to be nothing more than that…budding hopes.

But those dreams that died and those hopes that never came true did something to me. They didn’t take part of my heart — they made it stronger, and deeper, and wiser. 

The prayers I prayed for young men, and the friendships I developed were not a waste. They’ve matured me and led me to a greater dependence on the only One who can always satisfy my heart.

Related Posts: “Half-Frozen Lake” and “Living Safe”

Come back next week for the rest of the things I’ve learned about guy and girls over the years! Have any thoughts? Comment below!

The Way of Communion


“He [Jesus] was born in a barn to show what God thinks of human pride, of human ambition, of human loftiness,
of human hardness…of those who turn to religion only because of what they think it can do for them…
of those who always insist on having a place at the high table and are miserable when others are put before them…
of those personal jealousies and those family feuds that mar the fellowship with God.”

 –Handel H. Brown

God with us. Emmanuel. 

Of all the powerful, wonderful names for our God, I think Emmanuel is my favorite. Encompassing His limitless divinity and His incredible humanity, Emmanuel is the name of the Savior who came to the undeserving and undesirable, to make us His.

When Christmas comes each year, I love celebrating His coming. But this year, I keep thinking about how Emmanuel is the way to communion. 

But, what is communion?

Communion, much like our word community, stems from the Latin word communionem, originally derived from the word for common.  Communion means “fellowship, mutual participation, a sharing,” according to this etymology site.

Today, we call the Lord’s Table “Communion,” but in reality, our taking of the bread and cup are only a tiny of piece or symbol of the true communion we have because of Christ’s death and resurrection. We remember that we too are “crucified with Christ, but nevertheless” live (Galatians 2:20). In Christ, our body of sin has been conquered and we have been raised as new creatures.

But, long before land, water, grass, daisies, diamonds, or time, there was communion.

God, as three distinct persons, communed with Himself. The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit had an eternity past of unceasing pleasure, power, and majesty, exulting in each other’s company.

But God purposed to institute boundaries in the boundlessness of eternity. He spoke time and light and matter into being. He shouted out for planets to spin into motion and stars to begin their ages of twinkling. He called for birds to stretch newly-spoken wings and fish to dive in newly-wet seas.

And then He breathed on dust. Worth sprang from worthlessness, all because of His exhale. He shaped an image-bearer, one made to find ultimate satisfaction only in His presence. Then, because He could and wished to do it, He made another image bearer, a woman this time. She, too, was made to find joy in God.

But, even from the beginning, God set into motion the breadth and depth of communion: not only was mankind made to be with Him, but each human was made to be with other humans. Just as the Trinity fellowships eternally, God created His people to do the same.We were made for community.

Sin, however, destroys communion.

Think about it. In pride, I set myself on a pedestal. In greed, I push anyone out of the way to get what I want. In desire, I trample the needs of others to satisfy my own lust.

Do you see our isolation?

We all seek our own way. Marriages crumble. Siblings stop speaking. Friends turn traitors. Churches split apart. We run to our rooms, our homes, our shopping malls, our entertainment and shut out the world–because it’s just too hard to fight for togetherness when the world is so full of sin.

So we give up. We stop trying. We let the relationships fade. We let the doors slam. We lock our own doors and think “Good riddance.”

This is why God sent His son into the world: to save the sinners driven away by their own self-destructing natures.

This is why there is Christmas.

Jesus came to the wandering and the lonely and the lost and He made a family for us: His Bride the Church.

The work that he completed 33 years after the first Christmas took away the power of sin to isolate us. God’s presence is no longer closed off to us. We have access to Him, and through Him, the means of communion with one another.

So, we are to be about our Father’s business, bringing others into this communion:

“All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”

– 2 Corinthians 5:18-21, ESV –

Our culture is drowning in isolation. For them, commercial Christmas is full of gap-widening greed and memories of lost relationships.

But true Christmas–true Communion–is God’s grace breaking down the walls of isolation we’ve built for ourselves. Abiding in Him, we extend our fellowship to fellow believers. And, just as Jesus came to us, we have to go out, bringing in the lost and lonely into communion with the God who is with us…Emmanuel.

“We can never hope to capture the Christmas spirit and make it our own unless we understand that God is so much greater than we ever thought He was. We thought we knew all about God. The incarnation proved us wrong.”

Dan Schaeffer

Putting the “Forever” in Friend


“There is nothing I would not do for those who are really my friends. I have no notion of loving people by halves, it is not my nature.”
– Jane Austen, Northanger Abbey –

Next to loving God, loving others is our primary responsibility (Mark 12:28-34).

God is easy to love in a sense, because He completely deserves my adoration. People…not so much. They can be complicated, confusing, changeable, cranky. Bottom line: they don’t always deserve love. Then again, neither do I.

I’ve seen friendships last fifty years…or fifty days…and I wonder if the life-long friend is becoming a rare breed.

I’ve seen heart-breaking misunderstandings where one person assumes too much. I’ve seen warmth cool until people stop speaking entirely, over the most unimportant of things.

So, from one friend to another, let’s talk about how to be a friend. I’m not interested in shallow platitudes or cure-all formulas. I’m interested in what the Bible tells me about friendship. I’m interested in being wise with my relationships, so that–to the best of my ability–I will be at peace with my friends.

The Talk of a Friend

1. Mean what you say

Friends have jokes. I get that. But be careful. What’s funny to you might not be funny to her, especially if the joke is poking fun at her. I’ve heard friends say, “I hate you” in jest. Uh oh. Too much room for mistakes there. Why even joke about that? There are plenty of funny ways to express friendly rivalry without risking your relationship over a dumb misunderstanding. It’s okay to tease…but be cautious. A hurtful quip is not worth losing a relationship. It just isn’t.

2. Do what you say

Be trustworthy. If you promise to send them an email, do it. If you say you’ll help out with a project, be there. It’s not hard…but it is. Just take your words seriously. Being a friend that can be counted on is HUGE. You will be the one that people will come to for help and advice, just because you are faithful. Follow through.

3. Don’t tell everything you know

It’s okay to not tell your friends everything there is to know about you. With today’s flood of social media, people often feel the urge to share every intimate detail of their lives on the internet. Instead, I’d encourage you to set boundaries. It’s okay to have thoughts that are yours alone. It’s okay to have family secrets that don’t go beyond the house. It’s okay to keep quiet. You don’t owe your friends knowledge of every secret. As long as you are straightforward and sincere, you don’t have to share everything there is to know about yourself. And sometimes it’s better that way.

4. Tell the truth with grace

“Love without truth is sentimentality; it supports and affirms us but keeps us in denial about our flaws. Truth without love is harshness; it gives us information but in such a way that we cannot really hear it. God’s saving love in Christ, however, is marked by both radical truthfulness about who we are and yet also radical, unconditional commitment to us. The merciful commitment strengthens us to see the truth about ourselves and repent.”
― Timothy Keller, The Meaning of Marriage

Sometimes you need to ask your friends hard things–or tell them hard things–about themselves. Whether its a sin that needs confronted or a sticky emotional issue, being a friend means telling them the truth. When you think you need to say something hard, be careful. First, is it necessary? If not, don’t. Confrontations, though sometimes necessary, are not easy on friendships. Don’t risk a relationship over a non-issue. However, sometimes you have to speak. Approach with love and humility. Don’t act like a teacher or a second mom. If you can, tell how you’ve been in the same boat. If your friend still gets mad, you have to give the situation up to God. He can change hearts; we can’t.

The Walk of a Friend

5. Take the first step forward

“Love means not ever having to say you’re sorry”. This movie line turned into a catchphrase, and it is about the farthest thing from the truth that I can imagine.

Love means saying you’re sorry. Love means doing whatever you can possibly do to bring reconciliation. Love means laying down our dumb pride and being the first one to take a step toward the other person. Honestly, it doesn’t matter who “started it.” Dying on a hill of “being right” is a terrible way of killing a friendship.

If you’ve sinned against a friend, it is your job to take a step toward them. It is your job to ask their forgiveness.

But if you’ve been sinned against, it’s your job to take a step too. That’s what Jesus did. He came to us even when we were His enemies. This is radical love. This is friendship that is only possible with the grace of God filling your heart. This is Christlikeness.

 6. Love when you don’t want to

Just like discipleship, Love is a call to die daily.

The saying has almost become trite. People say, “Love is an action.” I don’t know if that is all love is. Love is also a choice: a choice to act for another’s good, even if they don’t deserve it. Jesus, again, is our ultimate example.

It would be great if our feelings always kept up with our choices. But sometimes, you need to smile and give hugs and spend time with a friend, even if you’d rather be doing something else. “But that’s so hypocritical,” you might say.

Let me say something about that. Hypocrisy is living a lie, fooling someone so they’ll think better of you. Imitating Christ, even when you’re operating on bare choice, is not hypocrisy. I can choose to thank God even when I’m not feeling particularly thankful, because it is the right thing to do. I can choose to get up and put on a smile even when I’m not feeling terribly joyful, because that’s what I’m called to. Or…perhaps it’s not so much a choice as a surrender. 

“Loving when you don’t feel like it” is not easy. It is a living sacrifice. It is laying down your desires and your contrary feelings and saying to God, “Not my will but Yours.”

The funny thing is…usually our feelings are not all that far behind our choices. What we practice is what we become.

7. Don’t wear your feelings on your sleeve

I’ll admit something to you. Growing up, I hardly ever saw my parents take offense from friends and family. We just…didn’t really get offended.

It’s not because we’re some rare breed, I assure you. It is just that many things are not important enough to get ruffled up about. Remember a lot of the things we’ve talked about? What happens if your friend calls you a name in jest? What happens if she forgets to do something she said she would? What happens if she confronts you about something painful?

See, love is not a 50-50 sort of thing. It is giving up yourself completely. So even if your friend messes up, you have a choice in that moment: You can be offended and assume the worst, or you can immediately let go of the offense. We take a lot of things too seriously. Don’t let bitterness get even a single talon in you.  “And above all things have fervent love for one another, for ‘love will cover a multitude of sins’ ” (1 Peter 4:8, NKJV). 

The Heart of a Friend

8. Pray for your friend

This is an obvious one…but also one that I need reminded of myself. It is easy to hear our friends’ deepest needs and then simply forget to pray about them.

Let me tell you a little secret about prayer–it is like glue. If you pray for someone, something special happens in your heart. They become a part of you. Their victories become yours. You feel their pain or sorrow. So pray for your friends. It will bind your hearts together in a way only prayer can.

9. Don’t make…or be…an idol

Friendships are precious, without a doubt. But they are not ultimate. Some people, it’s true, are too independent, but others are too dependent. Do not allow yourself to set up your friend as your idol. If you don’t think you can survive without a particular friend, you should check your priorities. Beware of letting a person sit on God’s throne in your heart. And beware of letting your friends put you on that throne. We were never made to fill that kind of need in one another. Let’s strive, instead, to constantly point one another back to Christ, our only Savior. No one else is worthy to fill His throne.

10. Give up control

I’ve begun to fear, sisters, that you will take these words of Biblical wisdom and make them a set of rules to live by. This is not my own list of “10 Commandments of Friendship.” Not at all. These are lessons I have learned and observed–things that will make your friendships better if you take note. But NONE of these things will make you righteous and NONE of them are possible to sustain in your heart unless you have been radically changed by Jesus Christ’s grace and forgiveness and are filled with His Holy Spirit.

So, taking that to heart, let me say this: Give up control of your friendships. If you ever thought you could control people, let go of that lie. You can’t make people be your friends. You can’t make your friendships secure. This world is insecure and unsteady. You can’t make things go perfectly.

One day, all things will be made new and friendships will blossom eternally. There will be no rifts in eternity. But until then, keep your eyes on Jesus. Following His example of radical love, let yourself be poured out for your friends. We can only give ourselves. It is for God to make things grow.

 “Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.”

– Ephesians 4:29-32 –