Are Close Friendships Worth The Effort? Or, Is The Pain Not Worth It? Part 1

Photo by Ben White on Unsplash

Photo by Ben White on Unsplash

What do you think of when you hear the word friendship?

Does it bring a smile to your face? Or, does it remind you of pains from the past?

Can you say that you have a “friend that sticks closer than a brother” (Proverbs 18:24)? Or, do you struggle to think of anyone in your life like that?

Friendships have been a hard thing for me for decades. I have had friends, but close friends, someone that I can really share my ups and downs with, someone that I can open up and be my real self with knowing that I will be loved anyway, well, that’s been a life-long struggle.

Maybe you can relate?

When I was in the sixth grade, my best friend of three years and another of my friends turned on me out of now where. I got the classic note in class that said, “we aren’t going to be your friend anymore.”

I begged to know why. They wouldn’t tell me. I came home crying that day. And, many days after that.

Some weeks later, they said they wanted to be my friend again. I forgave them and thought it was behind us.

Then a month or so later, I get the same note again. “We don’t want to be your friend.” More tears. More lonely lunches. Again, weeks later they come back and “take me back.”

This sequence happened two or three more times over the course of the year.

The next year, new school, new friends. No way I’m going through that again!

Photo by Verne Ho on Unsplash

Photo by Verne Ho on Unsplash

What I didn’t realize was how much this encounter with my “friends” effected me and how I showed up in my friendships even years later. Still to this day, more than thirty years later, it’s something I’m working through.

You may have been through something similar growing up. Personally, I think Jr. High/Middle School should be banned. It’s full of kids that are struggling to figure out who they are. So, in order to make themselves feel more important, they hurt others.

After all that hurt and pain, are friendships worth it? Are they worth the pain? Are they worth the struggle?

YES

Yes, friendships are worth pursuing even though we may have been hurt in the past. Even if we may be hurt in the future. They are worth it!

How? How can the risk of hurt be worth it?

We need friendships.

Jesus demonstrated the need for friendships himself. He had his twelve disciples, plus there were others that followed him closely.

John 11:11 NLT

Then he said, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep, but now I will go and wake him up.”

Jesus friend Lazarus had died and Jesus was going to raise him from the dead. When He arrived, He spoke with Lazarus’ sister, Martha. When she left to get her sister, Mary, this is how Jesus reacts:

John 11:35-36 NLT

35 Then Jesus wept. 36 The people who were standing nearby said, “See how much he loved him!”

Jesus deeply loved and cared. He cherished His friends.

Photo by Lauren Richmond on Unsplash

Photo by Lauren Richmond on Unsplash

He also knew we needed them and set an example for us to follow.

John 15:15-17 NIV

15 I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. 16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you. 17 This is my command: Love each other.

You know what’s interesting about this passage? Judas would have been sitting there with the other disciples. Jesus would have called Him friend. Even knowing that Judas would betray Him later.

Holy moly! I’m not quite there yet where I could call someone I knew was going to betray me a friend. But, I do know that friendships are worth the risk.

Proverbs 18:24 NLT

There are “friends” who destroy each other, but a real friend sticks closer than a brother.

I have finally discovered the power of true friendship.

One of them is my dear friend, Donna. I have a friend I can share God's word with, share struggles or fears, share defeats and victories. We can speak truth in love to each other and are willing to receive from each other as well. She lives a state away from me now, but we still talk daily through online Bible Studies. Donna is truly my iron-sharpening-iron friend.

Proverbs 27:17 NIV

As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.

How do you develop this kind of friendship? How do you even find someone that you can develop this kind of relationship with?

Next post, we’ll work on answering these questions.

For now, if you struggle with friendship, if you fear letting people in, and if you desire more, I want you to pray. Pray that God will show you the value of true friendships. Pray for your heart to be opened so you get to the point you’re willing to take the risk of friendship. It’s worth it!!

Discussion

Have you ever struggled with developing friendships? Do you believe it’s worth it to overcome this struggle?

Or, do you have any advice for us that do struggle with creating iron-sharpening-iron friendships?

Resources

Uninvited: Living Loved When You Feel Less Than, Left Out, and Lonely - Book by Lysa TerKeurst

Uninvited - Study Guide by Lysa TerKeurst

Uninvited - DVD set by Lysa TerKeurst

You might consider gong through this study with a friend. Or, someone you want to consider growing closer to. I went through this study with my dear friend, Karen. We grew even closer as we were open and vulnerable with one another.

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