For those who follow this page and The God Journey, we’re having quite a bit of discussion about relationships and community. Learning to live in the love of the Father, and then out of that love to others opens the door for the kinds of relationships that we crave and that God designed us for. But these kind of friendships don’t happen quickly and can’t be manufactured by human engineering. They are deeply rooted in a heart God is healing and allows us to engage others with freedom and joy.
I wrote this over a year ago and found it in an old file today. Here are some things I have learned about relationships over the course of my life:
Friendships that are filled with love, grace, and shared wisdom are the best treasures we’re given in this life—those that are filled with laughter, that speak truth graciously, and that serve each other generously. They will last a lifetime and are more valuable than gold.
If you value any thing more than your friends, your friendships won’t last. Bet on it.
It takes two people and a significant amount of love, grace and time to build a friendship in which the glory of God can be revealed. It only takes one of those people and a careless act of betrayal to destroy it.
Failure alone won’t end a friendship. Abandonment will.
No matter how broken a relationship is, it can always be reconciled if both people are willing to invest the time and effort to own each other’s story. But the process demands a healthy dose of honesty, tenderness, and openness to see things as they are, not how we want them to be.
Real relationships are not about just being nice. There is no relationship without authenticity and truth. Light and love travel together, as painful as that might be at times. But that’s a glorious mix.
Learn the wonder and power of forgiveness so that other people’s failures don’t become your issues.
Too many people want a relationship only for what they can get out of it, and will not always be there to help others when the friendship asks something of them.
Your coping mechanisms might have saved you in trauma when you were younger, but they will subvert healthy friendships now. That’s why wholeness is worth fighting instead of simply passing your pain on to others.
If someone is making accusations about another’s motives to you, you can bet that they are also doing it about you to someone else.
When the conversation shifts from how we share together what God gives, to demanding for ourselves that which we think we deserve, that friendship has been sacrificed on the altar of selfish ambition and vain conceit. It’s a really bad trade.
Those who give up on a friendship, had to never know the joy of that friendship to begin with.
Most people are users, pretending a friendship to benefit themselves. But users won’t change without being loved, even if it takes a number of discarded friendships for them to learn that. Love them anyway, just do it with your eyes open!
When accusations enter a friendship before the person ever sits down to discuss his or her concerns, you can be sure that gossip has had its course and the accusations will be distortions at best, or outright lies at worst.
It’s easy to stab a friend in the back, because they are trusting you not to. Betrayal is an act of cowardice.
When people give up on a friendship without even a meaningful conversation where they seek to hear as much as be heard, you can be pretty sure it was always a one-sided relationship to begin with.
To live inside of lies you have to block out any voice that challenges your thinking. When you live in the truth you need no such protection.
My dad taught me that my word is my bond. If you say it you do it. If you cease to respect your own word, you’ll gather no respect from others. And don’t confuse someone’s love with their respect. They are two separate realities. You can love someone you don’t respect, but the great friendships are filled with both.
Proverbs says that telling lies about someone is an act of hatred, no matter what excuse you give yourself.
Those you love the most, can hurt you the deepest. Keep loving anyway!
The best counsel I know for the kind of deep friendships that spawn true community come from Paul’s words in Philippians 2:1-4- “Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.” No man or woman can live that way by their own efforts. It takes a rich and real relationship with Jesus to be transformed enough by him to have the freedom to live like that.