Friendship is easy when life is good. It’s easy to love a gal when she’s responsive and witty, when she at least halfway seems to have her life together; when she’s hanging out with the popular crowd or when her social media is filled with bright and happy photos.
But what about when the sun disappears behind the clouds? What about when she ends up the subject of gossip, by people who don’t even know her name? What about when family life goes haywire or worse? How about when she’s suddenly hit with grief and trauma or depression, and you don’t have the first clue what to say to fix it?
What about when her child dies or her husband leaves – or SHE leaves?! What about when the house goes into foreclosure? What about when someone breaks her heart and she turns around to hand you the shattered pieces?
Girls, I’ve got news for you. For US.
If we want to love like Jesus, then we simply cannot neglect the fact we have to be willing to open our hearts and our arms to our friends for business when the days are the longest and the hurts are the hardest.
We cannot simply close up shop and walk away when our girls go down struggling.
We cannot let our own trauma keep us from reaching out into their darkness.
We can’t duck down and run with our tail tucked when something is said from the depth of their pain that hurts OUR feelings. Wounded, scared people will almost always snap, even to those they would normally trust. We have to look beyond that, give some space, and keep loving.
Don’t wait for a “vaguebook” post to be their cry for help. Know your people better than that, and hear the cry for help before it gets to social media.
Be the friend who recognizes when your people are struggling because they haven’t texted or checked in today like normal. Let that be your first smoke signal that the ship is going down.
Be the friend who hunts your bestie down before a week of depressed silence passes, who steps over the toys and takes out the trash, picks up the baby, starts a load of laundry, feeds the kids dinner, and cleans up the kitchen. Who sits that friend down and serves her favorite hot meal, who entertains the kids while she takes a long, hot bath.
Be the friend who sees the moods and the mess and who wants to be friends anyway.
Be the friend who doesn’t stay in the background just because you’ve never been close friends before. She needs you now. She needs you to step forward when others bow out.
Be the one who catches tears; who is not only unafraid of her friend’s emotions but who will get in the muck and feel it with her, and who is willing to wear the shirt with the mascara stains on the shoulder for the rest of the day.
Be the one who stays on the phone while your friend sobs into your ear.
Be the one who listens, even if you can’t offer advice or fix what’s wrong.
Be the one who can be trusted with the HARD stuff, with the ugly stuff, trusted to hear the confessions of things past and choose to love regardless.
Be the one who pour out grace upon grace, even when she walks away from YOU, because she’s just not sure which end is up anymore in the midst of her emotional vertigo. You just hang on and keep checking in from time to time, proving that you are there through it all.
Be the one who stays, and doesn’t run. No cautiously poking our head around the bushes to gauge from afar whether the storm is over before we venture tentatively back. We ride the waves right alongside.
You pass the real friend test when you are still standing proud when the storm blows over, rooted in your position as a lover of that heart. Your flag might be tattered and torn, but there you are, waiting with open arms to say “You made it!”
Real friends love like Jesus – and Jesus is no deserter. He is the friend that stays closer than a brother, and that’s the example we need to follow.
Real friends love like Jesus – and Jesus doesn’t leave.