An Abiding Friend

I’m a People Person

When I say that I love people, I mean that…I LOVE PEOPLE. Just being around new people or in a group setting gets me excited. Does anyone out there feel the same way? There is just something so fun and refreshing about seeing new faces, hearing everyone’s stories, and growing relationships. It’s truly the main reason why I love hosting large parties or get-togethers. I will invite a good chunk of my phone book, for no other reason than I genuinely want to share life with others. Sure, it may increase the budget for the party, but if there is something to celebrate, I want others to share in it with us! Why not, right?

I have always sincerely believed that the more people you surround yourself with, the more encouragement and joy there will be in your life. Truly a “the more, the merrier” mentality.

For over thirty years I have never seen a problem with being wired that way…that is, until lately. As I started to think about planning birthday parties for my kids and summer BBQs and began looking at our list of “friends” to invite, I realized that while they may be on our guest list, we may not be on theirs.

** Now, before you think that this is turning into a big ol’ pity party, I can assure you it’s not. So please don’t give up on me yet! **

Believing Lies Based on Missed Expectations

The truth is, I am a sinful human being and am guilty of reacting in my flesh frequently, so I’d be lying if I said that I didn’t initially feel hurt, betrayed, and bitter at one person’s “oversight” of my feelings. This weird encounter (which truly did nothing more than leave me feeling awkward), completely opened the floodgates of undealt with emotion from over the years. It’s as though I had a flip book of memories and times where I was hurt by a friend flipping rapidly through my mind, taking my thoughts to extremes and probably exaggerating what really happened by 1000%.

Y’all, my mind was out of control. I truly was walking with some nasty lies.  Thankfully, my wonderful mentor (mom), was there to listen to me ramble as I talked myself in circles until the truth punched me in the face: IT WAS MY FAULT.

You heard (or rather, read) that right: The pain I felt was actually my fault. Why? MISSED EXPECTATIONS. Here is the hard truth I had to receive:

Any expectation I placed on another was a setup for relationship failure from the beginning.

The moment I decided what type of friend they should be to me was the moment I became less of a true friend myself. I focused on how they treated me, rather than on their heart and how I should treat them.

A Godly, yet Complicated Friendship

Of course, as with everything, the Holy Spirit oh-so-graciously reminded how I was wrong and pointed me to the Word and the friendship between Jonathan and David. You guys, talk about a complicated relationship. You can read all about it in 1 and 2 Samuel, but this passage about this one selfless act essentially sums up how Jonathan was a true friend, despite all the circumstances and trials that the two faced.

 “… Jonathan became one in spirit with David, and he loved him as himself… And Jonathan made a covenant with David because he loved him as himself. Jonathan took off the robe he was wearing and gave it to David, along with his tunic, and even his sword, his bow, and his belt.”

1 Samuel 18:1-4

I love how Beth Moore puts this into perspective…

“Clearly Saul intended for Jonathan to become the second king of Israel (1 Sam 20:30-31), but this son had other plans. In David, Jonathan saw character fit for a king. He was so determined that the throne be occupied by God’s chosen instrument that he offered everything he had…Jonathan sacrificed himself. He removed his royal regalia…and placed it on David.”

 Jonathan literally gave up everything to help encourage and support his friend David in all that God had called him to be. Nowhere does it say that David ever reciprocated that love and sacrificed as Jonathan had, yet Jonathan remained loyal to his friend. Better yet, Jonathan remained loyal to God.

You see, it shouldn’t matter how others treat us.

If God has placed on our hearts to love, support, and walk with someone as a friend (Amos 3:3), we need to be faithful to that calling, not only in the good seasons, but also in the hard ones. This isn’t about how they make us feel, but rather about being who God has called each one of us to be and how we are to make others feel.

“And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works… encouraging one another…” 

-Hebrews 10:24

Unconditional Friendship

I still love people and will continue to throw huge celebrations. The difference is, when I call someone friend, it holds no expectation of them. It simply acknowledges that regardless of their choices or how they may treat me, I will continue to welcome, love, and encourage them as Christ does me.

“May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God.”

-Romans 15:5-7

So what do you say, friend?

Are you willing to take the road less traveled and pursue a life of obedience to the Lord in seeking out the welfare and accomplishments of others over yourself, even if that means giving while never receiving? To be that selfless, abiding friend like Jonathan, full of love and encouragement so that he/she may pursue who God has called them to be?

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  • Kristi F

    Ali, this does completely cut to the heart of friendship! It’s so difficult to get over those hurts that were set up by our expectations….oh how, I’ve been there. But you are so right, when we are liberated from our expectations and focus on God’s purpose of friendship, it brings about a whole new peace knowing that it doesn’t matter how anyone else reacts, it’s how we choose to live out God’s calling.
    Love this!

    • Ali R.

      I think we’ve all been there at some point… not just in friendships, but relationships in general! I was often thinking about even my marriage and my expectations with my husband! Thank you for your encouragement!

  • Tamika R

    you just described my week. I rode the downward spiral you described just this week. Great job. I appreciate all you shared.

    • Ali R

      Oh, thank you Tamika! I’m so sorry to hear you had the same experience.. It truly is draining!!! Just thankful for His Spirit, grace, love, and sweet patience with us that gently correct us when we go crazy with our emotions and limited knowledge! I would be out of control without Him. Which makes me wonder why I ever stray from His perfect plan and instruction in the first place… ?

  • Kristin

    Wow! Definitely a reminder I needed to hear. Removing our own expectations and just loving others… truly what Jesus calls us to do. Thank you for sharing this!

    • Ali R

      It truly is… If only we could just be obedient from the beginning, right?! Life would be SO much more fulfilling! Why is it so hard to follow such simple commands? Even if they are full of blessings and peace?