Thursday, September 25, 2014

A Friend Loves at All Times

Friendship.  It is one of the deepest longings of the human heart.   

A woman who finds a friend has found a treasure for life.  Time spent with a girlfriend can draw out what is best in us and make us feel loved, understood and treasured.  Girlfriend time is good medicine.   

On the other hand, when we perceive ourselves as lacking in friendship, we can feel hopeless and lonely.  I’ve lived on both ends of that spectrum – having been teased and bullied in my elementary years and then growing into adulthood and being gifted with some of the dearest women –  each of whom I am blessed to call “friend.”  There were times between those seasons when I longed for deeper connection, but at times I didn’t hold out hope that someone would like me just for me.  

A friend sees you as you are, draws out your best and forgives your worst.

We can mistakenly attempt to receive from people what we need to seek only from Jesus.  He said we are not His slaves, but His FRIENDS.  We are His friends as we abide in His love, walk in His ways and bear His fruit.  The essence and ground for all true friendship comes in loving Him first and most.  When I invest in my relationship with Jesus, I find so much of what I have longed for elsewhere fulfilled.  

If you’ve been around Hearts Homeward long enough, you’ve read my posts about some of my childhood experiences, the hand of God in my life and the way He provided a dear mentor who helped me walk through childhood pains and into the healing God has planned all along.  Friendship – true friendship – has been one of the sweetest fruits of that healing journey.  

Friendship is a gift we give one another.

One of the biggest truths about friendship is that it is a two-way street.   Maybe another equal truth is that we use the term “friend” way too loosely to encompass all kinds of relationships which aren’t actually friendships, but are more like social contacts or acquaintances or ministry relationships.  It is interesting to me that God warns us in Proverbs 18:24 that “a man of too many friends comes to ruin.  But there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.”  

We all know Jesus was called a “friend” of sinners, but when you look at that word for “friend” in the Greek it means a companion or familiar associate.  At other times when He offered a gentle rebuke to someone He said, “Friend …” but that word was a kindly greeting – like surfers would say, “Dude” these days.  It didn’t mean that person was an intimate of Jesus’.  He even used that same term to Judas when he came to betray him … the kindly address, not the calling of intimacy.  

God’s model for friendship is not exactly the Facebook approach (“I have 500 friends!!).  He wants us to major in quality and not in quantity.  He knows how He made us with a limited capacity to invest and be intimate, so we need to choose well and wisely and keep the numbers low so the intimacy can be high.  

What does God say about friendship?

At one point in my life I started wondering what God says about friendship.  When the word “friend” is used in God’s Word, it means someone intimate.  One of the sweetest terms for friendship used in the Bible is the Hebrew word: ‘ahab.  It means a loving friend and would include feelings for family or our husband.  It is the term God uses for His quality of friendship when He states that Abraham or Jacob is His friend.  He uses it for the entire tribe of Israel at other times.  Another word for this “friend” word would be beloved.  

The real meaning of a friend comes through in Deut 13:6 where it says:
… “your friend who is as your own soul.” 
There is nothing casual about friendship in God’s eyes.  If someone is going to be “as our own soul” we ought to use great care allowing them to grow into that position in our hearts and lives.  

A true friend does not speak evil of his friend {Ps 15}

A friend is one who is trusted {Ps 41:9}

A friend loves at all times – 
a brother (friend) is born for adversity {Prov 17:17} 

True friends stay with us in our ups and downs, love us through our sinfulness and see past our uglies because they love us with God’s love.  If we are extending true friendship we will show that same loyalty and trustworthiness to the women we love. 

Another favorite Proverb of mine is (it became a favorite after a friend and I weathered a trial in our friendship and grew closer in the long run):
Faithful are the wounds of a friend, but deceitful are the kisses of an enemy {Prov 27:6}
Sometimes “enemies” can look like friends because they flatter and are fun.  Friends aren’t only concerned with our comfort and having a good time.  Friends are truth-speakers in love so that they can help God draw out our best.  A true friend may wound us, but for our good.  Because of their great love they risk even their own rejection to help us along.  

*  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *
It seems to me that God’s Word highlights three types of friendships:

Ministry Friendships

Women all around us carry hurts and have deep needs.  We can reach out and enter into their lives with an offer of friendship, a listening ear, a word of prayer or just our caring presence.  We can give what we have received and be a part of how God heals hearts.  

Side-by-Side Friendships

We all need to be connected deeply with another woman in mutual trust as we share our struggles and encourage one another through life’s highs and lows and just enjoy one another’s company.  My side-by-side friends are spiritual sisters.  We pour into one another and we draw out goodness from our connection.   If I go too many days without touching base with one of these friends I feel their absence acutely. 

Mentoring Friendships

I wrote a whole post about my dear mentor here.  Mentoring friendships are ones where the purpose of our relationship is that a woman leads me forward in my walk with God because she has walked further down the path than I have and is extending her wisdom and love to me.    

*  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *

Sometimes It Hurts to Love

Though the Lord has always been sweet to give me friends, I have struggled with friendship on and off in my life as I am sure we all have.  There have been people I thought I could trust who have harmed me at very vulnerable points.  It is so painful to feel betrayed and misunderstood and even more painful when reconciliation isn’t possible even though we forgive.  At times I have felt like shrinking back into a hermit-like life or having “friendships” where I don’t expose myself as much.  The risk of vulnerability feels too great after a wounding.  

In the end it is better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all and when we take the risk there will be true friends who answer our vulnerability with sincere care and faithfulness.  Thankfully God has never left me in my self-reliant answers to my own pain.  He has caused me to step out again and again.  As I step out, He provides … women who are closer than sisters to me, who know me well and love me beyond what I deserve.  He has made me into a woman who can truly be a friend – not just seek filling from others, but truly put others first and long for their good and their growth (not to mention sharing some amazingly wonderful belly laughs on a regular basis).  

I’ve been in the place of longing for greater friendship and I have prayed with little hope that God would answer that prayer.  He has answered in abundance.  He has grown me to be the type of woman who can both offer and receive the rich gift of true friendship.  He will do the same for you.  My prayer for you is that you will choose well and then open up to deep friendship.  I pray He will bring women worthy of the friendship you have to offer – women who know how to love you well as you are: broken and beautiful.  

Today, I am so blessed to have Davi Rebecca, my neighbor, friend and an amazingly crafty woman donate one of her darling needlepoint hoops as a give-away in honor of my Blogiversary week.  In honor of her, I was inspired to write this post about friendship.   
If you want to see more of Davi’s creative offerings, travel over to Wandering Stitch on Etsy 

To enter the raffle use the Raffle Entry Form Here or on my Facebook Page
a Rafflecopter giveaway


Barbie said...

Such beautiful words on friendship. I am thankful for the treasures that God has brought into my life!

Rebekah said...

What a beautiful discovery and great words of friendship. I'm so glad to have found you thought Barbie!

HeartsHomeward said...

Thanks, Barbie!
This post is so dear to my heart because of the years I went without friendship or couldn't receive the friendship that was available to me. I pray it ministers to women who are longing and makes the rest of us just call our friends and thank them for their goodness in our lives.

HeartsHomeward said...

Thank you so much, Rebekah! I'm so glad you found Hearts Homeward too! Come back anytime.

davirebecca said...

you are making me cry! you are one of thedearest souls on the planet and I often tell my husband what a dull, empty place this world would be without you(he agrees). you are truly one-of-a kind and God surely had a twinkle in His eye when He created you. i love you like a sister and am so thankful that I can tell you my deepest darkest sorrows when I have no where else to turn.

HeartsHomeward said...

Awwww, sweet Davi. Thank you so much. You are a treasure and a gift to me. God knew what He was doing when He planted us on the same homestead right here in our modern Mayberry. Thanks for reading, for commenting and for always making me feel special :)

Chris Malkemes said...

True friendship is of great value. You are so right.

HeartsHomeward said...

Thanks, Chris! You said it.
Glad to have you visit Hearts Homeward.