Friendships Take Work

I’ve been thinking a lot about friendships this month! This blog with its various posts about friendship has been what the Lord’s used to provoke me, causing me to think more deeply about how I view the relationships in my life.

I don’t think it has always been easy for me to build friendships. I remember as a kid praying at night with my mom and dad and asking for a best friend. My parents would pray that the Lord would send me someone who would be a good influence and be that “iron sharpening iron” that Ashlee talked about in last week’s blog post

It took awhile but in my early twenties the Lord answered my parents’ prayers. My friend Stephanie (who, by the way, was my very first TALL friend, a treasure for someone 5’11”!) was the first person I met in the College and Career class at our church. She and I hit it off very quickly and soon became fast friends.

Our friendship wasn’t always easy. We went through many different struggles and trials. There were brief periods of time where we didn’t hang out with each other because of the tension between us.

But, for some reason, the Lord wouldn’t let us drift apart. We learned to communicate and to work hard at being friends. I remember SEVERAL conversations where we were so frustrated with one another we couldn’t even think straight. But, in the end, we would pray and ask the Lord to help us…which He did, and He would reconcile our differences.

We’ve gone through MUCH together. We’ve lived through much heartache (usually caused by dating relationships). We’ve traveled together, worked in ministry together, laughed LOTS (usually due to her klutzy nature), reminded one another of God’s sovereignty in our lives. Honestly, I believe the Lord used the work we put into our friendship to prepare me for the work that I now put into my marriage.

Even through this day Stephanie and I still have a great friendship that is growing (even though we don’t even live in the same country). But, it wasn’t until very recently that I REALLY understood what made a good strong friendship.

Check out these verses…

“By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers.” 1John 3:16

“This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.”  John 15:12-13

After reading verses like this you have to ask yourself, what does this look like in real life? First, I have to lay down my life, take up my cross and follow Christ. There is NO WAY I can ever start to love like Christ loved without the Holy Spirit’s direction. Next, I need to stop seeking my own interests and remember that Christ’s love was a sacrificial love – it cost Him His life.

For me, it looks a lot like this…

  • Listening more, talking less
  • Laying down my competitive attitude (including feeling like I have to one-up my friends)
  • Hanging out even if it doesn’t fit in my schedule
  • Remembering my friends’ prayer requests and continually lifting them up to the Lord
  • Being available – not just in body but mentally and spiritually
  • Sharing Truth in love even if they don’t want to hear it
  • Working through conflict even when I’d rather ignore it
  • Looking past how I feel about a situation and seeing the truth
  • Putting Christ first, rather than my friendships first
  • Admitting when I’m wrong and confessing my sin openly
  • Allowing my friends to speak truth into my life even when it hurts
  • Forgiving!
  • Loving even if I don’t get anything back in return

Being this kind of friend is NOT easy. It’s not something that happens overnight. But it’s so worth it when you look at the eternal benefits! Look at what Jesus says about this kind of sacrificial love in John 15:34-35:

“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

It is my prayer that the world will look in on my relationship with Stephanie and see the difference that Christ makes and want what makes us different! I pray that our friendship will give us a chance to share the gospel and show others that it’s only by God’s grace that we are the friends we are today.

 

Ashlee

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