“‘…Sit here while I go over there and pray.’ He took Peter and the two sons of Zebedee along with him, and he began to be sorrowful and troubled. Then he said to them, ‘My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.’…Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. ‘Couldn’t you men keep watch with me for one hour?’ he asked Peter…” (Matthew 26: 36-40)
I can remember my first “best-friend”. His name was Chris and he lived around the corner from my grandma. He was a funny kid and we got along really well. We were both in third grade and were always hanging out doing things third grade boys do, which probably means throwing rocks at stuff, throwing water balloons, and pretending to be ninjas.
However, no matter how many good memories I had with Chris, it all went south when I got jumped on the playground. One day, I accidentally hit a kid while swinging on the monkey bars. If I remember correctly, I was pretty excited because they were the higher monkey bars that the older kids went on, and I was handling them like a boss.
Anyway, one kid pulled me off the monkey bars and another grabbed my leg and hit it on a pole, WWE style. I looked for Chris to help me, but he ran. In fact, he didn’t even run to get help. He ran to another part of the playground and watched from a distance.
Our friendship ended that day and he kept my water balloons…punk.
I scan through all my friendships and there have been many that have come and gone due to time and life circumstances. I can also think of the friendships that have ended due to failure on my part or the other person’s.
I think we can all think of one or two friends that have failed to be true friends. We can all think of the friends who claimed to be close and tight, but when the rubber met the road, somehow the connection was far and loose.
At times, we may even have found ourselves with friends who betrayed our trust. We pour our energy into keeping an honest and open relationship with them and they use our information against us. They might even join in the trash talk about us that others might partake in. The people we expect to rise up with us and stand firm in our bond choose to release us by celebrating our brokenness.
So, what should we do? How should we handle this betrayal? Should we respond with harsh words and negative talk about them or should we rise above it?
We are called to love everyone and pray harder for our enemies. We are told to avoid letting the sun go down on our anger. We are commanded to not worry. Christ was very clear about how we should treat people who wrong us by forgiving them…a lot! (Matt. 18:21-22)
Friends will fail. We will fail as a friend, but hopefully we are better at being the friend to others that we would like to have.
It is all about how we respond that marks our faith and our ability to move forward.
When friends fail us, we need to forgive them because it frees us from bitterness. It doesn’t mean we accept them as friends again or even open ourselves up to having them in our lives again. We still need to forgive.
We need to pray for them. One of the most freeing experiences is praying for someone who doesn’t like you or you are struggling to forgive. It allows you to trust God, let Him work, and put it on His shoulders the way He told us to do in the first place.
Avoid letting anger control you. You will get angry because you have been hurt. It’s natural. However, when it controls us, we no longer serve the real Master because we are mastered by our anger. Let it go.
Finally, don’t worry about what their words or actions mean to you. Yes, you lose a friendship, but it frees you up for a new relationship down the road. Yes, you will have hurtful words spread by hurt people, but if you follow the steps above, your character will speak louder than their words. Unhappy people long to see others unhappy. Don’t let them win in that way.
You are precious in God’s sight. He created you with great purpose. He created you for community. Do not allow your community to shrink because one or two people fail to be the friends you needed them to be.
Follow Christ’s lead and your true friends will be revealed as you move along in your life.
May we all experience good and healthy friendships and may we be discerning enough to choose our close friends wisely.
Peace and blessings friends.
QUESTION: What characteristic do you look for in a friend?