Friendships have a way of revealing us to ourselves. You know? Pam Lau tackles one “dark side” of friendship, when we are disappointed in friends, and brings us face to face with just what God might want to do in us in such moments.
The Hard Work of Friendship
By Pam Lau
Several months ago, a close friend hurt me with a short but mindless text and it sent me into a dark mood for some reason. The honest truth is that she made a choice that put me at the end of her list. Her choice to reprioritize me to the bottom created a whole host of inner torment for me. I began to ask questions that were never there before not only in that friendship but other ones, too: “Is so-and-so more important than me now?” “Is our friendship not worth the sacrifice?” “Am I that easy to take for granted?” “What does that say about me?”
After several hours of misery in every area of my life, I opened my journal and began to consider my feelings. I realized I needed to repent. Envy. Self-pity. Competition.
Yet when I was brutally honest, what bothered me more than what my friend did, was how dark and competitive I felt! Frustrated with myself, this friendship and my inability to pray with a pure heart, I blurted out to God, “How on earth can I make my way in friendship when this is how I respond?”
My eyes fell to a passage in Colossians, “ . . .We have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord. . .” (Colossians 1:9-10)
Quietly listening and searching, I heard God say, “Pam, each and every time you start being defensive, feeling unloved, wanting attention, questioning another friend’s motives, each and every time you start comparing, measuring yourself as the better friend like flour for your best breads, begin to pray for that woman. Pray she would be filled with the knowledge of my will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding.”
So I prayed for my friend. Prayer is really the only way to keep my heart pure and for any friendship to thrive.
Here's what happened when I prayed:
Prayer creates a space. On the day I received the hurtful text, my heart felt small until I poured it all out into my journal. Through prayer, God enlarged my heart and created more space so I could pray for my friend without becoming offended.
Prayer creates intimacy. With the extra space in my heart, I was able to visualize an intimate friendship with several of my women friends who are near and far. Surprisingly, the friend who hurt me was in that picture—just a more realistic picture. God showed me how true intimacy is always built on what’s real.
God’s Spirit prays in us. It’s true! When God’s Spirit fills me in such a disappointing time, I can sense Jesus praying with me. Nothing is too painful, no one feels too distant, or too difficult, or too separated to be reached by Jesus’ healing touch.
Friendships are renewed. A few weeks later, my friend and I did finally connect. Although I didn’t deny she hurt me, I didn’t feel the need to punish her or make her pay for her wrongful actions. Because prayer cleaned out my heart, God gave me wisdom in that friendship.
When I brought my whole heart to God no matter its bruised and beaten state, he found a way to meet every need so I could stay close to a woman friend in my life.
Pam Lau is the author of Soul Strength and numerous articles for FullFill magazine and Christianity Today’s Her.meneutics. She teaches communications at George Fox University. Her forthcoming book, A Friend in Me: Building Trust with the Next Generation of Women is due June 1. Pam lives near Portland, Oregon with her husband and three daughters. For a list of her speaking topics visit www.pamelalau.com.
Photo credit ajmontpetit.com