Over the last few years, several of my friendships have died regardless of my efforts to save them. I was saddened deeply and confused because there was no obvious reason why. There had been no fight – no fallout. I examined myself and honestly asked if there was something I had done to damage our relationship, but nothing appeared. My friendship was drowning and my hands were tied. This forced me to consider what makes a friendship and what my responsibilities are in a relationship. These questions led me to five truths that have helped me through these situations.
A friendship requires two people in cooperation with each other.
While this fact is obvious, we often fail to apply its truth. One person alone cannot keep the relationship alive. There must be cooperation between the two parties. If our friend or acquaintance is resisting connecting with us, we can still remain supportive and friendly, but besides that our options are limited. With all of my friendships that have dissipated, I was desperate to fix them. I wanted to find a problem so there could be resolution. But after careful examination, I realized there was nothing more I could do and backed off. Later, an opportunity might appear to revive the relationship, but forcing your “solutions” now will only make the situation worse.
Friendship entails risk.
There is no such thing as a perfect relationship. Even the most solid relationships leave us vulnerable to disappointment. As C.S. Lewis said in his book The Four Loves, “There is no safe investment. To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything, and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly be broken.” The relationships Jesus had during His time on earth perfectly illustrate this point. He knew his disciples would mess up repeatedly and Judas would even betray Him, but He still poured His all into these twelve men. To not love is to act selfishly.
Even though relationships can hurt us, we have to realize their value is worth any pain they may bring.
People change for the better.
People change – sometimes for the better, and sometimes for the worse. For instance, my older cousin (who is more like a long distance big brother) got married three years ago and had a baby girl. During his bachelor days, I would text with him nearly every day, but now our messages are slightly less frequent. We still care deeply about each other, his life priorities have just readjusted – as they should! His little family is the apple of his eye, but that has not pushed me out of the viewer. He just has less time to spend on his phone. Seasons of life change. We should rejoice when a friend or family member reaches a new stage in life, not resent it.
People change for the worse.
On the flip side, sometimes people change for the worse. While we still love these people, we are left powerless when they no longer welcome us into their lives. For instance, I had a friend who began to snub me. She was insecure and trying to portray herself as the “popular girl”. I still care about her, but I backed off from trying to communicate with her. Again, you cannot force a relationship. Not every relationship is meant to be a long term one. I have had other friends who have moved, changed schools, and started engaging in questionable entertainment choices. They no longer made an effort to communicate, and I did not think it was wise to fight for our relationship. I still care about these people too, but we are no longer a part of each other’s daily lives.
We have one friend who is perfect.
Proverbs 18:24 says, “A man who has friends must himself be friendly. But there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.” We must be careful not to set unrealistic expectations on our friends and family members. We are all human, thus we will all fail each other in our relationships. However, Jesus is always a steady friend – someone who we know will never fail us in our relationship. No matter how many times we fail Him, He will still stay by our side. When we receive Jesus’ grace, we can more freely give grace to our relations when they fail.
Our friendships brighten our days and add meaning to life. Times of strain can actually make us realize just how much we appreciate the relationships in our lives. Whether a friendship lasts for thirty days or thirty years, whether we communicate daily or once every five years, we can thank God for the people He has given a role in our lives. As we walk with Jesus, we can trust God to help us build stronger, less fickle relationships.