Friendship is something we all crave. Ever since I can remember I have always craved or desired to find that bosom friend like in Anne of Green Gables. I think it’s safe to say every girl always loved the friendship that Anne and Diana had. Kindred spirits as she would call it.
Unfortunately for me it wasn’t that easy. You see, in life you will experience friends that come and go and very few that will stick by you forever no matter what. It’s easier for some people to just be your friend when it is convenient for them or when nothing is wrong. But when a trial or struggle comes up and things get rough they just walk away because it is easier then to try and understand.
I’m sad to say that I have experienced this in my life more than I’d like to admit that has left me hurting and scarred. I’ve had friends ditch me or push me aside when they start dating because all of a sudden I wasn’t important to them. You see I wear my heart on my sleeve and would do anything for my friends whether it was convenient for me or not. When I think back to friendships that I used to have my expectations were unrealistic. They were coming from what I wanted and desired not necessarily what God wanted for me. You see, just like you I am human and it’s easy to think we know what’s best.
But let me tell you, that friendships, the right ones, authentic Godly ones aren’t easy and they are super rare. They take lots of work too. It’s not something that just happens overnight although that would be really nice. It takes both of you to make it work. I read an article once that said you need to be the kind of friend that you want to have. That really has stuck with me and it’s helped me on the way I view friendships now.
One of my favorite verses is Proverbs 27:17 NLT version says: “As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend.”
It’s taken me years and lots of change of perspective to get to the point where I am now. I have been hurt so much by friends or so called friends that the healing process has taken time to get over and I am still healing. My prayer is that through my story, it can encourage you and remind you that you aren’t alone if you find yourself in a similar situation.
While I have had my share of hurts from past friendships I believe that if it weren’t for them and the pain I wouldn’t be where I am today and wouldn’t have met my best friend Kaitlyn, even though I didn’t think that I could ever open myself up to someone again. The fear of everyone leaving me was real. I still to this day struggle with that fear. Because of the hurt and the pain it was easier for me to hide who I really was when I would meet new people then to be myself for fear that I overshare or open up too quickly and they end up leaving again or not really caring.
Some of my unrealistic expectations were that I thought one person could fill all my wants and needs. That they would always be there at a moment’s notice and never let me down. I believed that we would be best friends for life and that we would do everything together, share everything and grow old together. What I didn’t realize at the time was that it was totally unrealistic and never going to happen. That is way too much pressure to put on anyone.
While watching an online conference one day, Annie Downs was speaking on friendship and what she said really struck a chord with me. It really made an impression and I believe it was the turning point for me. She said, “let your friends be your friends, they aren’t God. Anything else is a blessing.” WOW! Just hit me in the head why don’t you. God is the only one that can fulfill all your needs and wants and never let you down. He can however use people in your life to support you, encourage you, pray for you and be there for you. You just have to realize that they are human too and that friendship takes work and works both ways.
It’s important to find people that speak life and truth over your life but it’s also just equally as important that you do the same for them.
You see, I was just coming out of a friendship that I stayed in way longer than I should’ve. There was a lot of pain and trust was broken. I was hurt really bad. You see I poured my heart out and shared everything with this friend. We went through a lot together. I was always there for her when she needed it but she was nowhere to be found when I needed it. I was lied to and used and while I don’t feel like going into details let’s just say it’s safe to say I was shattered and heartbroken when we had to end our friendship. Now this doesn’t mean I stopped caring about her, I just knew for my own personal mental health that I needed to take a step back. This whole ordeal left me with trust issues and wondering if I would ever find a friend that I could truly count on.
The pain was real. It hurt like hell but my emotions were more than valid. Everything I was feeling was valid, at least that’s what my friend Ella would say. She’s really helped me learn how to process and express my feelings instead of keeping it bottled up inside. For a while, I shut down, I very rarely talked to new people at church. I stuck to just making small talk and acting like everything was okay because I didn’t want to open up because I didn’t trust anyone. I didn’t want to get hurt again. I didn’t want to have to go through that pain again.
God had different plans for me and used the pain, hurt, and these experiences to bring me closer to Him and to bring a friend into my life at just the right time.
It was the fall of 2019 on a Friday night, our young adult group was having a bonfire. I really didn’t want to go because like I said I was still dealing with the hurt and pain and I felt like going to the bonfire would just stir up old memories. However, I decided to go even if it was just for a little while. I am so glad that I did. It still amazes me to this day how God brings the right person into your life at the exact time you need it. While at the bonfire, I had already made my rounds of small talk with my friends and decided to go sit by myself and just crochet and be alone. You see I am an introvert and so there comes a time where I need a few moments to recharge after hitting my wall. I was sitting there just thinking and honestly was tempted to say my goodbyes and head out since it was getting late.
Next thing I know there was this girl, Kaitlyn who came over, sat down, and started talking to me. I knew who she was since I saw her at church, friends on social media, and we have occasionally said hello here and there but I didn’t really know her. We started talking and I could tell right away that there was something different about her. Maybe it was the way she listened? Maybe it was she asked me questions and then actually listened for my response? I still don’t know but I had this feeling that I needed to just be myself. I felt comfortable and next thing you know I was telling her my whole life story. Which is probably more than she wanted to know at the time. But the weird thing is I’m not usually that trusting or at least that talkative about my life to people I just met and especially when other people are around. But I guess God was nudging me and prompting me to share. We ended up talking and staying at the bonfire till well after 1am. We decided to meet for lunch after church Sunday to continue talking and getting to know each other.
Fast forward to now almost 7 months later our friendship has grown so much. A lot has happened in a short amount of time but Kaitlyn has proved to me over and over that she is in this friendship for the long haul. Our friendship is proof of God working through both of us. She is not here just when it’s convenient for her but through the highs and the lows. Come to find out later she told me that when we met at the bonfire God was nudging and prompting her to come over to talk to me. She was so glad she listened and I am so glad she did too. God definitely moved through both of us and continues to move through our friendship.
The saying “choose your friends wisely because you become who you hangout with” is something I wholeheartedly believe in.
Proverbs 17:17 in The Message translation says: “Friends love through all kinds of weather, and families stick together in all kinds of trouble.” Family isn’t always by blood. Some friends become like family. I’m not saying our friendship is perfect. We have to work at it everyday. I have noticed that saying to prove true. I can definitely tell that my personality and perspective is different when I hang out with her. We are very similar and I think that’s why we get along so well. It really does make a difference to your mood when you have the right people in your life. You need people who build you up instead of tear you down. People who cheer for you instead of compete with you.
I’d like to leave you with three tips or points that I have found helpful when it comes to real, Godly friendships.
- Be the real you- don’t be afraid to be real and authentic. You don’t need to hide who you are. There will be days when you have it all together and days when everything is falling apart and that’s ok. Real Godly friends will not care. They want you to be yourself with them. They get that life throws curve balls and seasons change. If you feel like you have to pretend with them then they probably aren’t the right kind of person you need in your life.
- Open communication/honesty- it’s important to be honest with each other. If something is bothering you then talk about it. Don’t just hold it in because you are afraid of conflict. Bring it out in the open so you can both resolve it. Even if it’s uncomfortable it’s better to talk about it with each other than to just let it make you miserable so you can both work on together. It’s better to be honest then to keep quiet. If you don’t talk about it how does the other know there is a problem. It’s not fair to either of you.
- Respect boundaries- as much as you want to talk, text, facetime, or hangout all the time you have to remember that they have a life outside of being friends with you. Learn when to give them space and respect them when they are busy. If it’s an emergency then send them a message saying so. Also don’t just show up unannounced make sure you check in first before showing up. Also respect the fact that they have other friendships and it’s okay for them to do things without you. Again talk about it and communicate with each other and set boundaries.
Authentic, Godly friendships are important and I pray that you can find people in your life who will allow you to be the real you. People who will support you no matter what. Encourage and pray for you and speak truth and life over you. The kind of friends who laugh with you and cry with you and let you vent. Those are the people who you need in your life. However you also need to be that kind of friend for them as well. I’m by no means perfect. Like you have read I’ve made plenty of mistakes and I am by no means the perfect friend. However I strive to be with God’s help the best I can. It starts with just being the real you.
I know it’s hard and if you have been hurt in past friendships and still healing just remember that your emotions and feelings are valid. If you haven’t found that kindred spirit friend yet I encourage you to keep praying. It wasn’t until I realized that I needed God more than I needed a best friend that He brought Kaitlyn into my life. So I encourage you to press into God and cry out to Him. He wants to be your friend. In fact He is the ultimate friend and the best friend you could ever have.