Having true friends is something we all desire.
Better yet, it is something we all need in our lives to feel complete!
The term friendship is getting tossed around quite loosely these days. In our social media-driven society, friendships can be measured by the amount of followers one has on his/her Instagram page. But, can we really count on our followers?
If we are in a pinch, can we post on our Instagram page and get the help we need?
My guess is no!
Then, what does a true and healthy friendship look like? I plan to give you my experience of what I consider to be a great friendship.
As in every sound relationship, the foundation has to be solid.
When I moved to Tulsa, Oklahoma, my relationship with God was at a very distant level. However, it was in Tulsa, OK where our relationship grew.
At the time, I was engaged to a beautiful and good-hearted woman. Unfortunately, our relationship of seven years was built on lust, past hurts, lack of communication, and Christ-centered community.
There were resentment and unmet expectations that constantly hovered over our relationship. Over time we grew distant towards each other and I think we both were unhappy.
We didn’t know how to fix it and things soon took an unexpected turn.
About six months after coming to Tulsa, God introduced me to a group of men that completely turned my world upside down! These men opened my eyes around what friendship is: a friendship that puts God in the center of it.
It is already a rare side where a group of men can come together and be vulnerable. We have been taught as a man you need to be this strong, fearless, and tearless person.
It is my opinion that this approach is self-destructive. In the long run, it will only eat us from the inside out!
Having found a safe space where I can lift the weight off of my shoulders without the feeling of judgement was such a freeing experience. The reason why this is possible is that all of us in the group follow the same principle: the word of God.
It is this foundation that allows for the no judgement zone. As it says in the bible, don’t judge if you don’t want to be judged. No matter what my current struggles are or how embarrassing it may be to share them, I know that our friendship will not be impacted.
A healthy friendship is forgiveness.
If we believe in the word of God and we find our life’s compass in His teachings, we will put aside our personal feelings, and approach situations with what His word says.
It is our own feelings that at times lead us to make the wrong decisions or give not so favorable advice. These are the same feelings that will pass judgement.
Let’s say I share with a friend that I cheated on my fiancee and she found out. The newly arrived information stirred up the worst in my future wife and she became physical towards me. After taking the abuse for a moment I snapped and slapped her.
Many of us would immediately start passing judgement and even build up a wall towards our friend.
What an abusive man!
How could you hit your fiancee?
These words would be possible thoughts brewing up in our minds.
But, when we follow the truth about God, we suppress our flesh and stick to the teachings in the bible! A sin is a sin no matter what the action is.
Second, we should give more grace. God shows us grace all the time even when we deem it is not granted.
• We all make mistakes!
• We all say things that are hurtful!
• We all are not perfect!
I know for a fact that I have my flaws, which have and will hurt people.
Before I started my walk with Christ, whenever I felt under attack or somebody was deliberately out to hurt me, my guard would be up with the quickness!
It is funny, the people we hold most dear to our hearts also have the most impact on our feelings and emotions. Disagreements will happen, that much is promised.
What I have learned during my walk with God, and the friends he placed in my life, is that forgiveness plays a huge role in maintaining healthy relationships.
In Matthew, Jesus says that church members should forgive each other “seventy times seven times.”
Don’t get me wrong, this is definitely going to be a challenge and requires much compassion. In order to have friendships, we desire this has to be a practice on both sides!
To give us a glimpse of what unfolded in my life because of being in a godly community, I decided to remove myself from my current relationship and be committed to a relationship with God.
It was the hardest decision I ever had to make. Walking away (which the outside looking in) seemed like I abandoned a seven-year relationship and her two kids. This is the furthest statement from the truth and my true friends know that.
I was seeking God and doing His will.
I can honestly say that I have become a more compassionate, comfortable, patient, and loving person.
Because I have the ability to share my emotions with close friends, I developed a better understanding of myself. It is crazy what speaking our truth out loud can do!
It’s like letting go of the weight on your shoulders that has been holding you back. I developed a deeper sense of patience with myself and others.
Listening to my friends share their emotions (while keeping my personal feelings detached from the interaction) gave birth to the ability to truly listen and find understanding.
A friendship is a relationship!
Every healthy relationship requires work in every season. While being on top of the mountain as well as in the valleys. It can be frustrating, yet so rewarding and nourishing. As long as you have your foundation and follow God’s teachings, no storm will break your true friendship. Solely acting out of our flesh (feelings & emotions) can make any good friendship turn bad!
At last, I cry!
Yes, I will shed a tear. Fellow men, crying is not a sign of weakness, but rather a sign of maturity and self-love. Sometimes, you have to just let it out, because we all know bottling up emotions leads to chaos down the road.
Plus, who is to say that tears have to be bad? What if you received a notice that all your debt is forgiven? You get to hold your first child for the very first time? You get to see a loved one that you haven’t seen in years? Tears can be a great thing and are the furthest from expressing weakness.
Guest Blogger: Kevin A.
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