“And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them” (Ephesians 5:11)
We may not often think of friendships as being fruitless, or those being predisposed to not bearing fruit in Jesus. This is an impossible thought or reality for any outside of the communion of The Church of Christ, but for Christians this is something to address. We characterize whether a relationship, mostly those which are dating ones, as unhealthy or not healthy. Immediately, we presume that it must end with no regret. That for either one party or both, it will be ruinous for them and subsequently, it must be cut short. But I pose this question to you reading: Are there any friendships that may be affecting you negatively? Do you have continual conflict with this person? Do you consider them a best friend or close friend, yet you always have a rift, a problem, a stress, or an issue with them? If so, then this article may be of some assistance to you.
I’ll speak from experience. Recently, I have had a friend in my life (who will be unnamed) that has caused me anguish. Now, she’s a great friend to me and to my other friends. We’ve built this friendship primarily through church, and outside of that have become closer due to getting to know one another better and sharing interests. While those aren’t the problems technically, perhaps on her part some mixed signals and internal conflicts have led to clinginess, to possessiveness, to higher expectations that can possibly be met. I think this goes for any who can relate, be it a friendship with someone of the same sex or not. If there is constant shadowing, consistent insecurities, and run-ins with trust, it can turn into an undesirable friendship altogether. We must keep God in the middle, too.
My closest brother and roommate hates drama. Drama between friends can be especially unwanted. No one seeks to cause trouble and if they do they are disavowing their commitment to God to be peacemakers (Matthew 5:9). This is a Beatitude and Christ said blessed are those that look to make peace betwixt peoples. However, the Devil is very real and is lurking to remove affection and instill deep-seated irritability, annoyance, and frustration that can unearth even the strongest friendships. Let’s go a little deeper and ask is there someone in your life texting you too much? Every day? Is there someone expecting you to always answer the phone when they call? Expecting to always hang out? Expecting to always see you even when you last saw them the day before? These could be signs of a heavy relationship that will undoubtedly come to a close. It may be abrupt. It may be excruciatingly slow.
I won’t speak from experience in this situation because this is the first time I’ve had to decide how to go about this and choose what God wants. Sealed in that is what I want. I need space. I need to be free to live life. I need the easiness and not the pressures induced by someone who has no power over me to allow me to hang out with other friends, date someone, and live without harassment at the hands of social media/technology. That’s not too much to ask of anyone. Period. Feelings, unreciprocated acknowledgement, and heightened emotions can increasingly corner one person in the friendship. It can chase them away. It can launch the fight or flight method. Maybe I’m tempted to do all of the above, honestly.
Examining this friendship, regardless of its duration of two years or more and the gifts and mercies that have come from it, the pain and the aggravation can’t be forgotten. You must evaluate if this person is lifting you to new heights, hopefully heavenly ones, or if you’re spinning in circles, living in a revolving door of insult, brokenness, forgiveness, redemption, and then mishaps fresh again. Maybe that is human nature just expressing itself. It truly is. God isn’t far from this mode, since we each do this individually by ourselves anyways. However, shouldn’t we strive for more? I’m not implying one should abandon all of their friends because you became mad once or were hurt by some petty thing. In fact, that is what has been occurring in my own experience. Don’t be afraid, likewise, to better yourself by choosing better friends. One my care for you truly, but will they chastise you for simply changing your plans? Will they attack you and ignore you for not consistently and tirelessly showing them attention? Will they assume things about your friendship when you make a slight change? These are critical inquiries.
Our summary is in God. He’s the Author of New Life and New Beginnings. Do you need that in your relationship or friendship today? If so, pray Christ and ask for the direction to lead you to someone who would cherish you, yes, but also be true to their words and care of you. Ask Him for someone who will not aimlessly undermine your happiness to remind you where you gave them some kind of heartache. Some pain is valid, some is reactionary. Ask the Holy Spirit to discern this test that you have before you. It may be daunting because everything could change. Embrace the changes, though, for God wants to elevate you to mountaintops and peaks that NO discouragement can retract you from. You only need to be patiently expectant. The right kind of expectation for Jesus Christ.
Let us pray:
Provide us good bonds and unbreakable family ties that won’t limit us, prevent us, or retire us to question the behaviors included. Give us enlightenment to properly understand this and when You’re leading us from it. We beseech You that You would rather lead us to those beneficial and benign relationships that will carry us onward further into Thy Spirit. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.
Mary, Mother of God, pray for us!