I lost friends when my husband had an affair. I lose a few more when I divorced him. The pain of losing people I thought would be my support, hurt nearly as bad as the pain of my husband’s betrayal. I was angry and hurt by them pulling away when I needed them most. I was in the worst pain of my life, and they weren’t there for me. My ex-husband’s affair didn’t just teach me about how good God is or how to love unconditionally, it taught me about the value of friendship.
Friendship truly is the greatest gift we are given. We see this exampled in scripture over and over again:
- Jonathon was loyal to David against his own father, sacrificing his own birthright to the throne. After Jonathon’s death, David takes in Jonathon’s crippled son as his own (2 Samuel 9). Both men were loyal friends even when it was incredibly hard.
- When Naomi lost her husband and her sons, she left Moab to go home to Bethlehem. Her daughter-in-law, Ruth, refused to leave her alone and “clung to her” (Ruth 1:14). Ruth left all she had ever known behind to support Naomi.
- John is believed to be the only one of the twelve disciples to stay at the foot of the cross as Jesus died. Jesus saw him there with His mother, and said to Mary, “Woman, here is your son” and then to John, “Here is your mother.” John then took Mary into his home to care for her (John 19:26-27). John stepped up when no one else did.
- Elisha was trained by the prophet Elijah. Elisha knew that Elijah’s time to go was coming yet he refused to leave him. Elijah repeatedly asked him to stay behind, but he did not. Because he stayed, Elisha got to witness the miracle of Elijah parting the Jordan River for them to walk across, but more amazing, he saw the miracle of God calling Elijah home. A chariot and horses of fire separated them as they walked, and Elijah was taken to Heaven in a whirlwind (2 Kings 2:11). Elisha’s faithfulness to his friend allowed him a glimpse of God’s mercy, love, and power.
True friendship isn’t easy. It’s not just about the fun and good times, it’s about the hard times. We have friends so we don’t have to go through the hard times alone. We are a friend, so others don’t have to go through the hard times alone.
I spent a long time trying to go it alone. The loss of friends hit me hard, and I didn’t want to be hurt anymore, so I didn’t open up and I didn’t ask for help. I thought it would be easier to just make it through the pain by myself, so that I didn’t have to worry about betrayal from anyone else. I closed myself off thinking I was protecting my heart from further damage. Looking back, all I did was make the pain last longer. I added to my own pain by not allowing those friends who stayed with me the opportunity to help me carry my burden. While they couldn’t take it away, they could have shared it with me, so it wasn’t so heavy.
I have friends who never gave up on me, and I have friends who found me in the midst of my pain. My friends have taught me more about love than twenty-three years of marriage did. My friends kept my head above the water and kept me from drowning. They knew when to send a text or a call or ask me to meet for lunch or dinner. My best friend literally sent me a hug in a box when I needed it most. They didn’t let me go, even when I trying to get them to. They didn’t turn around and go a different direction, they didn’t walk away, they didn’t leave me. They are true friends. They are the people God sent me so I would know I’m not alone. They are the ones who hold me when God knows I need physical arms around me. They are the ones who give me advice and speak truth to me when God knows I need to hear it. They are the ones who plan the fun when God knows I need a break from the hard. They are my on-earth example of what God desires love to look like. I didn’t get that in my marriage, but I am seeing it exampled in the people He has sent me.
So, how does this work? Well, first we have to admit we need them. When we try to do life alone, it is so much more difficult. We are designed to need others; we are designed to have relationships and commitments. This life is hard; no one leaves without enduring pain, doubts, disappointments, and sadness. When we allow others to walk through it with us, life doesn’t just become manageable, it becomes filled with joy. Even when it’s hard, there will still be joy.
Second, you must be a friend. You have to be there for the good and the bad for others. Friendship is a commitment and those who are truly committed stay when their friend needs them. They don’t walk away when it’s hard, they don’t walk away when they don’t know what to do; they stay. They ask questions, they hold you, they text, they call, they bring dinner, or do laundry. They help in ways you didn’t even know you needed. So, when you commit to a friendship, be that for them. Be the person they didn’t know they needed.
Be your true self to others. Let them see the losses and the wins, the heartache and the joy. Share it all, so they can also share it all with you. Build those friendships that few people have because they don’t know how to be real and honest and open and transparent. Don’t shut people out because you’re scared you’ll be hurt, or you’ll miss the miracles God wants to you to see and feel. Don’t close yourself off when life feels unmanageable, open your heart to those who can help you carry the burden.
I would never have made it through the past few years without the friends that stood by me. I know for sure they are miracles sent by God to get me through the hardest times of my life. When I felt most alone was when I was trying to do life on my own. I tried to do it all by myself and I couldn’t, I just made it harder. God didn’t just remind me that He was there, he reminded me that He had sent me friends to help me. They are the calm in my storms, my defender in the battles, the logic to my crazy and the crazy to my logic- because we all need a little of both! Thank you to my people for standing by me and loving me even when it was hard. Thank you for being God’s hands and feet.