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But the companion of fools will suffer harm.
Just a couple of days ago, my friend Barb wrote about the "pity party" and about our responsibility as Christians to lift one another up and not to abandon those who need us the most.
Boy, did that ever strike a chord with me.
I couldn't stop thinking about, nor talking about her post! I recognized that, while I have at times thrown my own pity-parties, I have also been the one guilty of "avoiding" certain places or people when I just didn't feel like "lifting them up" again.
I really started to feel convicted by the Holy Spirit to evaluate a variety of situations I have been in, and whether I left them against God's will, or whether I had left them in accordance with God's will.
A couple of years ago, for example, after experiencing the unexpected death of my father, I "broke up" with a couple of different girlfriends who were completely unrelated to one another. One of them was a fellow "parent of a child with special needs" and the other was not; just a friend for many years.
I was actually seeing a counselor at the time; and she was a Christian counselor, so I had asked her about these two friendships, as they seemed to be draining me of energy, straining my marriage, and causing me unnecessary stress during an already stressful time. So, when she actually advised me to dissolve these friendships, and explained to me that my responsibilities in God's eyes were not to continue to use my energy with these friendships if they were straining my most important relationships; (my marriage and family), I didn't really second guess that advice.
But, Barb's message got me thinking...DID I abandon those friendships against God's will?
Further exploration on my part convinced me that I did not. How did I decide that? I started to look at healthy vs. unhealthy friendships. The two friendships that I had to walk away from were textbook "unhealthy". Here are a few defining differences between healthy and unhealthy friendships:
- Healthy friendships are based on mutual respect. In unhealthy friendships, people ridicule one another, gossip or spread rumors, or act mean to one another.
- Healthy friendships allow each other to grow and change. Unhealthy friendships are threatened when one person grows or changes.
- Healthy friendships are not possessive. Unhealthy friendships are threatened by other people.
- Healthy friendships accept you for who you are. Unhealthy friendships require you to act the way someone else wants you to be in order to be accepted.
- Healthy friendships are safe and secure. In unhealthy friendships, trusts are broken, secrets are shared, and confidentiality is betrayed. Accessed at janebluestein.com
In another instance, I found that one friend would talk so negatively about everyone, and yet, when she was around those people she was sweet as honey to them. I just was feeling stressed knowing that those individuals had no clue what she was saying about them when they weren't around. The friendship was draining me of energy and causing me to be negative in my own relationships with my family.
When I look at the relationships that Barb was writing about a couple of days ago, she's looking at offering consistent support to those who may not be the most "positive" or fun-loving people to be around. I know that my strongest friendships are the ones where I have been at my lowest and they still stuck by me and loved me through it. That's one of the hardest parts of moving 1800 miles away from "home" this past year. I was leaving the people who had seen me through panic attacks, break downs in pharmacies, depression, job loss, and any other number of pity parties. I have wonderful friends here in Nevada, but they haven't seen me "put to the test" per say. So there's that little part of me that fears losing them if I find I'm running on empty and can't pick myself up.
So, don't continue to feel like you HAVE to stay in a friendship that brings you to your lowest. If the person expects you to be his or her "bestie" and not grow friendships with others, or if that person doesn't allow you to hold an opinion that may differ from hers or his; it is not a healthy friendship and God would caution you about walking in that friendship for too long. However, if you know that a friend or acquaintance of yours is having a tough time, and could really use some encouragement, do NOT pass up the opportunity to be the hands and feet of Christ.
Pray: Heavenly Father, relationships in this world are so difficult. It's hard to discern who you want us to surround with support, or who Satan may use to bring us down. Let me be silent enough to hear your biding and to know how you want me to serve others with my friendship and love. Amen.