“If all your friends were going to jump off a bridge, would you jump off too?” More wisdom from my mother…although long forgotten that seems to bubble up from nowhere. And, at the most interesting times! (Little did she know, bridge jumping would actually become a thing!!) This question was often asked to remind a much younger me to think – and not just be a blind follower. I heard it often during those middle-school years but it still can apply today. I’m not so much of a blind follower but I am still loyal. Sometimes loyal to a fault and especially with friendships. God has been teaching me ways to be a good friend – a devoted friend – but in a way that is helpful, and more enjoyable, for both people.
My desire to be a true-blue friend can cause me to grip my friendships tightly. Often, painfully tight. I have also often thought that a “real” friendship is one that lasts forever and when relationships changed, or even ended, I felt betrayed or, most often, as if I had failed. But I have been surrendering not only my old ideas about friendships but also my tight control over those relationships. It has not been without some heartache but, largely, it has been a sweet change.
God gives us lots of different types of friendships. I mentioned, on my Instagram post today, a friend that is just like a sister. We have been friends for over fifty years. Those types of friendships are rare and truly are gifts from the Lord. However, some friendships are just for a season but they are just as much gifts as lifetime friends. There are friendships formed for all sorts of reasons, different stages of life and through all of life’s different circumstances. Some last much longer than the circumstance and others end once we move on. And that’s okay. Each should be viewed as a blessing and should be appreciated.
Forcing friendships into a one-size-fits-all mold or to have the same expectations from every relationship can be draining, stifling and painful. Here are three reasons God has been teaching me to surrender my friendships to Him.
1 – It hurts my relationship with Christ. I need to rely on Him to meet my needs. Especially the emotional needs that I so often look to my friends to fill. I can easily become dependent on sweet friends…turning to them first when I need advice, affirmation, encouragement or even companionship. If I will allow Him to first meet those needs, not only is my faith strengthened but I am also able to be a better (much less needy) friend.
2 – It hurts my friends. All relationships need to develop, mature and change. My unrealistic expectations can stifle friendships. And friends. I want to be a friend that encourages others to grow…especially to grow in the Lord. That can be hard to do if I’m squeezing them too tightly in the palm of my hand. I want to nurture my friends as well as my friendships
3 – It can just plain hurt. All of my friends are people. Shocking, but true. They are all human and can fail. Whether intentional or not, all friendships include disappointments, hurts and other hard times. When you hold friendships not too tightly, it is much easier to extend grace. To offer forgiveness when necessary and to overlook shortcomings. And, all of us need more grace!
I am thanking the Lord, today, for His blessings of so many friends! Indeed, they are gifts! These thoughts are simply more lessons on my journey this year through “surrender.” I shared a post last week and, hopefully, will have one or two more posts on my word for 2019 and how it is impacting me so far this year.