“For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow.”
I remember so clearly the beginning of each school year as a child and the big “meet the teacher day”. And while, yes I was anxious to meet my teacher, I was even more excited to see who was in class with me. I remember years of total excitement because I had a class with my closest friends, but then I remember when that wasn’t the case and I had to walk into a classroom met by strangers. These were tough times and it felt like the world was surely going to come to an end if I had to spend an entire school year separated from all the friends I had made in the years past. It was a big deal –a really big deal. I valued these friendships because they bettered my life in so many ways. They ensured I had a see-saw partner, a seat at the lunch table, and a hug on a difficult day.
Why is it that we seemed to grasp the importance of friendship better as a child than as adults? What used to seem like a gift all of a sudden feels somewhat like a hindrance. We make excuses, offer justifications, and come up with a variety of reasons why we don’t feel that making, keeping, and maintaining friendships is a priority at this time of our lives. I did a tad bit of unofficial research of my own to examine the cause of why, as adults, we don’t find the value in friendships that maybe we once did.
Most every person that I talked to simply stated that their life is busy and they just don’t have the time to devote to friendships. And while I would agree with that to a small degree –I would also tell you that we make time for what is important. As a wife and a mom of three, I would absolutely tell you that friendships outside of my home look different than they used to. Truthfully, there are only so many hours in a day remaining after investing my time and giving of myself to God first, my husband second, and our children after that. I may not have hours each day to pour into these special friendships, but because of their level of importance in my life and my walk with Christ, I do my best to intentionally make time for them with the remaining time that I have.
During this survey, my finding showed me that the next reason that people minimize the importance of friendships was that they lacked trust in others as a result of past hurts and disappointments. This hurt me because I could totally relate. Hurt, distrust, and neglect can ruin friendships and trample on our desire for them. In all straightforwardness I will tell you that all relationships offer the potential of being hurt because we are humans, we make mistakes, and we all fall short regularly. I’ve been brought face to face with my need for forgiveness regularly through my repentance to Jesus. I say I’m sorry because I made a mess of things, and my heart is to rectify and refrain from that same mistake. Yet we seem to forget that need for forgiveness when we are the ones being wronged.
I was completely taken aback by the third reason for the avoidance of friendships. Time after time, I heard women say they just didn’t see the value or the purpose in committing their time and efforts to friendship and fellowship with other women. Sincerely this saddened me. It saddened me because there was a time –many many years ago –when I felt the same way, thought the same thoughts, and felt these same feelings. Friendships felt tiring, depleting, and worry some. And as I reflected on these times, in full transparency, I recognize now that the lack of fulfillment in my friendships was an effect of entertaining the wrong friendships and avoiding the right ones. You see, there was a time in my life that these relationships existed to feed and fill the wrong parts of my life. When I would fall short, my behaviors were excused in these friendships because they met the guidelines of a broken world. I was lacking in accountability, encouragement, and direction to the things of Christ. They pointed me toward the pleasures of this world and not the glory of God.
But then God, in all of His goodness, brought forth friendships that opened my eyes to His purpose, plans, reasons, and design for this connection. Today my hope is to encourage you to seek out friendships that point you toward the truths of God’s Word. These friendships laugh with you until your cheeks hurt, cry with you when disaster strikes, and comfort you with the unfailing truths of the Bible.
If you don’t believe that you have time in your life to enjoy the blessing of friendship, I would ask that you evaluate your priorities and make sure that things in your life line up with God’s design. If you are avoiding the bond with other believers because you have been hurt in the past, I would remind you of the areas of your life where you have needed forgiveness. And if you truly believe that there is no purpose or fulfillment in being in friendship with others, then I would like to suggest that maybe you are entertaining the wrong friendships.
My prayer for you today is that you see not only the importance of gaining and investing in relationships with others, but that you devote yourself to the things of Christ so that you can in turn be the friend that so many others need. And though time spent with friends may look different in certain seasons of life, I can promise you that the connection from these Godly friendships will not feel like a hindrance or a waste of time. Instead, you will find reason and purpose as you lift one another up in love and obedience to the Father.
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