Michael W. Smith became Michael W. Famous when he penned a chorus that would be repeated countless times over by well-meaning followers (of JESUS, of course…and maybe Michael, too) in the song Friends (not to be confused with the popular TV show of the same title). The chorus says, “And a friend’s a friend forever if the Lord’s the Lord of them. And a friend will not say never, ‘cause the welcome will not end…a lifetime’s not too long to live as friends”. Beautiful lyrics…beautiful sentiment…unfortunately, not always the case.
In this journey called Life there are phases and stages when the Lord brings certain people into our lives for one specific purpose at times, and others for the long haul. And both are invaluable. But I want to talk about long hauls.
In every relationship comes times of friction, disagreement, and rubbing-the-wrong-way. Hey, we’re human, imperfect beings trying to navigate this delicate balance in friendships with truth and love, honest words and gentle words. We desire moving towards unity and love.
But if you want to end that friend, here are a few suggestions:
~Create impossible standards. Be sure that as soon as you are secure in your friend’s love for you, you raise the bar and realize she doesn’t actually meet the standard. Wherein you continue to bemoan the fact that no-one really cares and friends will always let you down.
~Look for her flaws and overlook her good points. Remember to focus on what your friend does wrong and completely obliterate all the good she has contributed to the friendship.
~Talk about yourself incessantly and never give your friend a chance to share her heart. And whenever she does open up, immediately take the focus off of her and put it back on you with phrases like, “It’s no big deal. If I could get through it so will you.” OR…”If you think that’s bad, let me tell you what happened to me.”
~NEVER celebrate her accomplishments. Dismiss her joy by immediately downplaying her exuberance by stating the cons of her endeavor. Ignore her creativity as if it’s not important to you. This, of course, will crush her spirit.
~Keep a watchful eye on her other friendships. Drop gossipy words about your friend to these new friends, thereby tainting her character and causing them to doubt her good reputation.
~Endlessly monologue about the amazing friendships you once had when you lived in such and such place with so and so in the wonder years of way back then! Remind yourself you can never, ever have such depth in the people you now coexist with. And as you speak these words out loud, observe how your current friends slowly fade away.
I’m sure there are countless experiences that would destroy an otherwise blossoming friendship. And if you’ve been on a friendship-gone-south end while scratching your head and wondering what in the world happened, you, my friend, are not alone.
It’s been brought to my attention recently that many women feel isolated and lonely (yes, and THAT in the church). What exactly does our good Lord have to say about this? The words from scripture are so incredibly counterculture to the self-centered ways we seek relationships of all kinds. Maybe that’s why we are experiencing such incredible isolation. For instance:
“An open rebuke is better than hidden love! Wounds from a sincere friend are better than many kisses from an enemy.” Prov. 27:5-6
“As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend.” Prov. 27:17
“The heartfelt counsel of a friend is as sweet as perfume and incense.” Prov. 27:9
Yeah, sometimes I want to run away when my friends live up to these scriptural charges. But THIS is where true friendship lies…allowing those who love us to love us well by their gentle “rebuke”, “wounds”, “sharpening”, and “counsel”, just to name a few verbs that can make us bristle! And if we continually end those friends who offer this gift of love and honestly, we will, in fact, spend many lonely days scanning social media pretending to have upwards of 900+ so-called friends, who know nothing of our souls.
So, it’s our choice. We can focus on what our base self desires in a friend (which, in fact, would be those inch-deep ones), or we can accept the imperfections in our fellow sojourners (and in ourselves…as there are LOTS of those) and keep our focus on the sheer joy of living out this journey alongside of people who cannot possibly fulfill all of what our souls need.
There is only One who can fulfill what our empty needs filled. That One is Jesus, truly the One “who sticks closer than a brother”. In Him, there is no end.