“As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend.” Proverbs 27:17
Our friendships grow and change over our lifetime, with some staying, some going, and some being just for a season. We know this, but our relationships can still be a source of much confusion when we’re in the thick of a conflict or when a relationship ends entirely. There have been some relationships in my life where I have felt hurt that the other person let me down, or didn’t meet my expectations. I’m sure this is a universal experience! God gave me a wonderful gift when He helped me to realize that I needed to adjust my expectations of others. I could let it bother me that someone didn’t do what I thought they should do, or I could accept that my agenda is mine, and not theirs.
I have gained and lost many friendships in my lifetime. God has been so gracious in this area of my life, working behind the scenes to end relationships that weren’t so healthy for me, while growing new ones that have blessed me more than I could have thought to ask for. I was talking with a friend recently about our friendships and how they change over the years. I shared that God had been showing me more deeply what role I play in my friendships and changes that He wanted me to make. I realized that every time a new relationship came into my life I could look back and see where God had been working to make this happen. Sometimes that work was pleasant, sometimes it was painful. Ok, most of the time it was painful. There were a few that needed to end because I realized that the person was no longer invested in our relationship, and I was the only one keeping it going. No matter what the reasons are, this is painful. Keeping our eyes on the big picture, and asking God what we can learn is a healthier mindset instead of wallowing in pity or self-justification.
1 Corinthians 15:33 says, “Do not be misled: ‘Bad company corrupts good character’.”
The truth is, some people aren’t good for you. And sister, like it or not, YOU aren’t good for some people. Sometimes it’s ok to move on from a relationship when you don’t bring out the best in each other. The key is to focus on how your relationships impact your primary relationship, which is with Christ. We are most certainly the company that we keep. Does this person encourage you in various ways to move closer to God? To grow in your faith? A true friend in the Lord will say the hard things to you, and not let you settle for a lukewarm faith. She will challenge you and pray for you, and be the hands and feet of Jesus for you. Do your friends do this for you? Are you doing this for your friends? Where do you need to improve? Ask God to show you where you need to change and grow.
“Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way, you will fulfill the law of Christ.” Galatians 6:2
Our friendships should inform our knowledge of Christ, to love people His way and to grow in relationship with Him. Pray about your friendships and ask God what He’s teaching you in this area. You can’t carry each other’s burdens if only one of you is invested. Don’t chase people to try to keep a friendship going. Instead, chase Jesus, and your relationships will change for the better.
Shay is a blog contributor and a lover of coffee and snow. She is married with three children. For more on how God shapes us through challenging circumstances, you may enjoy our Refining Fire study, or check out any of our Bible studies by tuning in to your favorite radio station, listening to our podcast on iTunes, or listening through TuneIn or Stitcher online radio.