Growing up, I laughed a lot. I still do, but it’s different. I was sarcastic and I made fun of my friends. I didn’t mean anything by it. I think I was just awkward and didn’t know how to carry on real conversations with people that didn’t end up with them as the butt of the joke.
One particular day, I had a lunch date scheduled with a friend of mine. We were both very young, unmarried and had a lot in common. Our mutual friends created our circle and we all knew everything about each other.
The lunch date was more than just a get together or a time to catch up. My friend wanted to talk to me about something serious. I’m always down for a lunch date, so I was excited and hungry.
We began with casual conversation: How’s college? What’s the plan for the weekend? What are we going to do once the semester ends? It was easy conversation that required absolutely no thinking.
As we waited for our food to come and we ran out of niceties, she took her cue and got serious. “Shanda,” she said as she nervously looked into my eyes, “our friends are beginning to pull away from you.”
You know those times when you hear what someone is saying but you can’t process it? That was me. Pulling away from me? Why? I haven’t done anything wrong.
Before I could respond with all of the above, she went on to explain. “They don’t like being made fun of all the time. At first it’s funny, but then they get their feelings hurt. If you don’t stop, you’re going to lose friends.”
Make fun of them?!? I am not making fun, I’m only kidding. How can they possibly think I’m making fun of them?
My whole demeanor changed. Who does she think she is to come into this restaurant and so confidently tell me I’m going to lose friends because of my sense of humor?
The rest of the lunch was awkward. I just wanted to finish my cheeseburger and get out of there. I vowed to never speak to this friend again because she infuriated me by being the messenger, and she obviously didn’t know what she was talking about!
Her words hurt. They were blows; wounds that cut to the core of my being. And in all honesty … she was right! And it didn’t take me long to realize it.
It wasn’t until years later that I learned there is a Bible verse that describes this kind of friend. Proverbs 27:6 says, “Faithful are the wounds of a friend; but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful.”
Do you have a friend that wounds? If not, you should get one.
What I’m sharing with you today is a fragile topic. It never feels good to be the one to have someone call you out. Let me also add that it’s not always accepted well when you call your friends out. If you don’t believe me, re-read the part where I was never going to talk to my friend again.
Since I started doing this friendship series, so many women have expressed a desire for deeply rooted friendships. There’s a way to get them, but it requires we go beyond shallow conversations. Friends don’t need a “yes” girl. They need someone to speak truth into their lives.
Many friendships never scratch the surface of easy conversation and “secrets” you promise to never tell but do. We all want that bestie who cheers us on, but do we want the bestie that can sit us down, look us in the eye and correct us? Tell us we’re wrong?
It’s easy to have conversations with a lot of “fluff”. I can make anyone feel good about themselves, and as the Proverb says, so can an enemy.
So, how do we take our friendships from surface level to deeply rooted?
1. Love is the Motivation
Proverbs 17:17a says, “A friend loves at all times.” Love is the fuel behind every conversation. If your motivation is not love, don’t say a word. We have to be willing to have hard conversations with our friends because we have their best interest in mind.
The same goes when our friend talks to us about our faults. If you know your friend loves you, by all means LISTEN. These are the conversations that will take you to deep and lasting friendship.
2. Sharpen and Challenge One Other
Encouragement is given in different ways. In some ways it makes you feel good about yourself. In other ways, it makes you better because it challenges you; just like my friend did with me.
Proverbs 27:15 says, “As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend.” Do you know what it feels like to be sharpened? This verse is often taken out of context because every friend quotes it. We think we’re doing each other favors because we respond to a text, post a pic on Instagram, or show up to a birthday dinner. Those things are not what make us a great friend.
In order for iron to sharpen each other, they have to rub against each other. This causes friction and sparks and is not always pleasant. It is the outcome of the iron, the sharpness, that makes both blades effective and useful.
Friendship is encouragement, listening, and cheering each other on. But we mustn’t forget that it’s also real, honest conversations that cut to the heart of matters. Real conversations hurt because the truth hurts sometimes. Just like my friend’s words to me hurt because they were real. She caused me to evaluate how I interacted with our mutual friends and I had to make changes because she was right. In the end, I’m glad she was brave enough to tell me the truth.
3. Confess Faults To One Another
The final indicator of a true and deep friendship is confession. Last week, I was reading James 5:16 where it says, “Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed.” Whoa! Whoa! I don’t think so! Confess my sins to a friend? Who does that?
There’s something we have to realize about God if we haven’t already. He doesn’t ask us to do what’s easy. He asks us to do what’s right and what’s best for us. You may want deep and lasting friendships, but God wants that for you more than you do. He tells us how to do it. This verse describes true friendship at it’s most challenging.
A true friend will listen to your shortcomings and pray for you. In return, you will do the same. I love what Lisa Turkheurst says about trusting others with our sins; our weaknesses. She says a friend you can trust to confess your faults to is, “A person you know who has prayed more words for you than they have spoken to you or about you.” Wow! How many of those kind of friends do we have in this world? Not only that, can you say you fit that description for your friends?
So, my friend, I leave you with something to think about today. Do you have deep friendships? Do you have real conversations with those friends? Do your conversations wound? If not, they need to, or your friendships have no depth.
The challenge today is to ponder the relationships you have with others. I’m not talking about people you tell secrets to. I’m talking about friends you speak truth to. That’s real iron. That’s deep friendship. Sometimes it hurts. It stirs real emotions and hard feelings. But, in the end it creates depth once we reflect on the truth our friend was brave enough to speak into our lives.
Wounds from a friend? It’s the only kind of wound we should want. Don’t be afraid to have hard conversations with your friends when you need to. It’s the only way to get deep and lasting friendships.
Praying for depth in your friendships, my friend!