Do you agree with the two friends in this cartoon? In a way, I see their point, but I don't agree entirely with them about friendship. I agree it is a blessing to meet a friend after a long separation and feel as though we never parted. That "feeling" is commitment––true friendship. But, three words stand out in this cartoon. Happiness. Feelings. Changed. Nothing's changed––so say the friends, but time does change things.
True friends accept the changes in us because they are committed to us. Friendship doesn't depend on feelings but commitment. Shouldn't we be changing daily? Isn't our goal to become more like Jesus? We all change––for the good and for the not so good. It's our choice. So what's the secret to lasting friendships?
Relationships will change over time. Hopefully, our relationship with God is changing––drawing closer to Him every day and becoming more like Jesus moment by moment. Change is good according to the Word of God. So why impede it? Probably because it's hard to change but easy––convenient–– to stay the same.
Human love is convenient. We choose our friends because they fit well with us. It's easy to be with them so it doesn't take much effort to enjoy them. It's convenient. It's comfortable. But is our friendship committed? Are we there for them when their lives change––for good or bad.
God's love is committed. His love isn't based on feelings, although He has feelings toward us. He decides to love us regardless of our actions. Do we choose to stay committed to our friends even when they change or their circumstances change? How do we choose to cheer them on and not leave them for more convenient relationships? If they move away, stay in touch. If cancer strikes, don't abandon them. Pray them through the hard times, and actively participate in their lives. It's not convenient, but we decide to commit to them. And, we shouldn't be absent when they succeed but celebrate with them.
Is there a moment in time when you move on from a friendship? Of course. If that friendship is destructive, by all means confront the situation, get help, and move on if it can't be resolved. God never intends for us to be abused––mentally or physically or spiritually. Seek help, don't stay if the other party doesn't change. We shouldn't stoop to their level, instead forgive them and walk away. Paul moved on from a relationship that couldn't be worked out. It hurts, but God will fill the void.
I confronted such a relationship in my life. After many years of trying to work out an unhealthy relationship, I walked away. The person wouldn't come to the table to work it out. I chose to not allow it to rob me of my joy. I knew I had tried everything possible to restore that friendship. But, if someone constantly criticizes you, hurts you, insults you, or even tries to destroy your friendships with others, it's time to walk away. Don't let the relationship destroy you.
"Friends can destroy one another, but a loving friend can stick closer than family." Proverbs 18:24
There's the secret––a loving friend! A loving friend is a committed friend. A lasting friendship is the result of love and commitment. Happy friends. Yes! True contentment. One day, we'll meet our Best Friend face to face. Let's strive to be a friend like Him until then. If so, we'll enjoy heavenly friendships on earth––I'm blessed and thankful to have many of them.
How are your friendships changing? Do you choose your friends for convenience? Is it time to let go of an unhealthy friendship? Cling to the positive relationships––embrace, engage, and empower change.