Have you ever called up a friend only to vent? And when I say vent, I mean you don’t even give the other person room to say anything. You just take up the ENTIRE conversation, and just ramble and talk about what’s been bothering you. All walls are down, and you just lay yourself bare and vulnerable with all of your emotions exposed. Yeah, that’s exactly what I’ve been experiencing in my prayer time. I don’t know what it is, but I have found myself constantly running to my prayer closet just to let everything out.
And before I dive deeper into this topic, I just have to say that God is the best listener. We’re talking about the Creator here, the same God who made the entire universe. It leaves me in awe that He wants us to talk to Him and tell Him about everything that’s going on even though He already knows. That in itself is one of the greatest demonstrations of God’s love and it shows just how relational He is.
When we’re having a meltdown, He is the only person who is able to handle all of our emotions. In fact, He welcomes it with open arms and He doesn’t do anything but listen. We vent, and He is quiet. We cry out and He cares. And after we’re done, He comforts us and tells us that everything is going to be okay. When He says casts our cares on Him, He really means it and that is such a beautiful demonstration of His grace.
As I’ve grown older, I’ve become a lot more self-aware of who I am as a person. One thing I’ve come to learn about myself is that I am also very relational. I have a heart for people and I love being in community. I love reaching out to others to see how they are doing and I love asking them how their week is going. Join my newsletter, and you’ll see what I mean! For a long time, I had to learn how to love others even when they didn’t reciprocate this same characteristic. I am actually still learning what this looks like, but God has been so gracious in teaching me this valuable lesson.
For example, I once had a best friend and we had completely different personalities. At the core, we were the same person because we are both madly in love with Jesus and have a passion to be more like Him. But we were different when it came to our ways of thinking, our interactions with others, and our expectations in our friendships. We had a running joke that we were the yin to each other’s yang since we balanced each other out so well.
But I will say that this friendship was one of the greatest blessings I could have ever received. Without a doubt, I know that our friendship was a godly-ordained friendship for the season it lasted and I know that God specifically thought of me when He gave me a friend like her.
But being a little more transparent, we went through a rough patch that ultimately brought our friendship to a close. The basis of it was that I wanted her to take initiative of doing the same things I was doing with her: checking in on her, texting her and asking if she had any prayer requests, etc. My friend also being very self-aware set a boundary with me that I didn’t like.
She was completely honest and she told me that I was expecting something from her that she was unable to give. Looking back on the situation, I am grateful for her honesty and her ability to say no, but at the time, her words really hurt my feelings.
At one point, I was so hurt that I started praying that God would guard my heart without realizing that I was really praying that He would harden my heart. For some reason, I wanted to cut her off simply because she wasn’t showing me love in the way that I wanted to receive it.
I was angry and I gave the enemy a foothold to confuse me about what a friendship is. I had to pray over and over again before God revealed to me that I was the one who was having the problem. Why was I angry with my friend for just being herself? I was bitter and I resented the fact that she didn’t understand me without taking time to realize that I was the one who wasn’t trying to understand her.
Drawing on scripture, Ephesians 4:17-32 is so relevant in this example.
Verse 17 explains how we shouldn’t live as we were before we met Christ because our previous way of thinking was pointless and useless. This verse couldn’t be any more true and it only supports verse 18 in explaining why I was confused and why I felt separated from God.
Something we have to learn is that God is so holy that He cannot remain in the same place of unholiness. Because that would simply make Him unholy; you’re either holy or unholy. He couldn’t reside in my bitter mind and my hardened heart, which is why I started to experience everything that is opposite of who God is. I didn’t feel peace or love or joy or patience. Instead, I felt anger, bitterness, confusion, and anxiety. And because of this, I gave the devil a foothold like it says in verse 26 and 27.
But I love how verses 31 and 32 give us the solution.
31 Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice.
32 Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.
Once I repented and asked God to forgive me of my sins, I had to also forgive my friend for not being perfect or meeting the expectations I desired. I had to show her grace and compassion. I had to learn that godly pursuit of friends can look differently amongst various friendships.
For some friends, this may look like contacting them frequently and checking in on them to see how they’re doing, but for other friends, this may look like respecting their boundaries and understanding that they don’t want to talk every day. That does not mean that they aren’t good friends or that they wouldn’t be there if needed. It just means that you have to adjust your expectations, compromise, and sacrifice or die to your flesh.
It takes strength to love someone even when you feel like they don’t love you. And it takes courage to step out and constantly pick up your cross by showing people in your life an agape kind of love even when they unintentionally hurt you. The devil never wants us to have godly friendships, so we have to realize that if we’re going to keep them, we’re going to have to fight for them.
So I say all of this to ask, are you strong enough to pursue your friends even when they don’t reciprocate? Or are you mature enough to accept your friends for who they are, and love them in spite of them just as God loves us?