Failing Forward in Friendships: 2 Lessons

Friday, February 6, 2015

The funny thing about pain is that your brain can often take you to the place where it happened. I remember that evening in 1996 so well when I called my friend. I was sitting in the steps that leads to the upstairs bedrooms at my parent’s home. The phone rang, her brother answered and she told him to tell me she wasn’t available. I poured myself into that friendship just to be denied access at the end. That pain stayed with me for 14 years of my life. Like a heavy baggage, my muscles got used to carrying it everywhere I went. Friendships are not always easy. When God made me aware of the unnecessary pain I was carrying, He healed me and I forgave my friend. I am now able to face friendships with a new and fresh approach. Hurts from our pasts are like inconvenient baggage we carry everywhere we go. Jesus can heal and we can choose to forgive.

I wish I could tell that was the last time I experienced rejection when trying to approach friendships. A couple of years ago I was the only one keeping in touch. For example, I was the only one texting. I was constantly sending invitations to get together and 98% of the time I was told No or I wasn't given an answer to my invitations at all. I guess the good thing was that I learned to recognize when people are not interested in having a significant friendship with me. The bottom line is:  "Time is the essential commodity of relationships" so you and I make time for the people who are important to us. I chose to forgive and I have a lot of prominent real estate space in my heart for friends who truly want to be in relationship with me. The problem with unforgiveness is that it takes up a lot of valuable real estate space in the heart.
One of my anchor scriptures when it comes to friendships is found in Proverbs 18:24:

“A man who has friends must show himself friendly, and there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.” Proverbs 18:24 (MEV)

I like this verse for two reasons:
  1. It encouraged me when I moved to Texas and I had no friends for a while. My mentors actually told me about this and I kept that in my heart. I kept showing myself friendly and God brought a lot of friends in my life.
  2. A friend who sticks closer than a brother is Jesus. He is the only One will never leave or forsake us. I do believe that God also sends us friends who will model Jesus in our lives and will be faithful and true to us.

A second Bible verse about friendships I enjoy is Proverbs 27:17
As iron sharpens iron, So a man sharpens the countenance of his friend.” Proverbs 27:17

Your friends are supposed to sharpen you, they are supposed to keep you on your toes. As far as knifes go, a sharp knife is safer than a dull knife.  The excessive force needed to make a dull knife cut causes the user to lose control, i.e. the knife can 'break out' of the material being cut and cause injury. A sharp knife requires little force, so it's easier to control and cuts where intended. The user is more likely to treat a sharp knife carefully. The friends who keep me sharp are often different from me for that reason. I believe God has them in my life to keep me sharp and help me grow. Who keeps you sharp?

As I look back at the girl sitting in those stairs or the woman looking at unanswered text messages, I can see that at the end, I was “failing forward” in friendships. I learned that forgiveness is God’s best for me in every season because it frees up my spirit as well as priceless real estate in my heart for future and current friends.
I learned that I need to show myself friendly and that God is well able to send good friends my way from unexpected places.
I also learned that sharp friends help me grow and become the person God wants me to become.

Is there anyone you need to forgive today?