When I hear the word “friends,” I usually feel pangs of hurt inside of me. Many a day I have wept painful and sometimes bitter tears in response to these hurts.
I have often felt excluded, rejected, and lonely. I have been excluded because some of my friends already had their own friends, and even when I tried so hard to be there for them, I was rejected. I just wanted to have friends that I could talk to, relate to, and care for, but many times I faced loneliness instead.
At these times when I have felt like my world was crumbling, God has turned it completely around to reveal my own mended soul, and his own fatherly love.
In the midst of all of this, God has taught me several valuable lessons about relationships from my own experience these last few years, lessons that I will cherish in the days to come.
1. Never Ostracize Others
God has taught me to never ostracize others, in order to prevent them from being hurt. Once we get comfortable with certain friends or a certain group, it is so hard to break free for even a moment to share some kindness to someone who is lonely. I’ve been there. Selfishness threatens to invade our emotions as we choose between what we know is right, and what is comfortable.
As I have navigated my way through friendships, I myself have been hurt by exclusion, and I know I have probably done so as well to others. But through this, I have learned the importance of doing to others what I would want them to do to me (Matthew 7:12).
I know God is glorified when I deny my flesh and reach out in kindness to someone who is suffering from loneliness. Even though it is a struggle, it is worth it to do what is right.
2. Family is a Treasure
Through these struggles, I have also learned the treasure of family. Friendships don’t last forever, and your friends will fail you at some point in your life, possibly sooner rather than later. Although family is not the answer, nor are they perfect, they are here to guide us and love us as we journey through life.
My family has been there to make me laugh, and there when I cry. We can talk freely to each other about our lives, and we have had countless valuable discussions.
Family is too easily taken for granted, especially a godly family. My own shattered friendships have brought me to the realization that God has immensely blessed me with my family. When friendships fall apart, your family is still there.
For those who have broken homes, you can still be thankful for your family, even though I can’t imagine the pain you go through. As you face these tattered relationships, talk to someone you trust and prepare your heart for the day when all such relationships will be restored. Turn your eyes upon the one who is our perfect comforter and friend.
3. The Friend above all Friends
Most importantly, God has taught me that he is the ultimate and greatest friend, the friend above all friends. It is so easy to perceive God as distant and uninterested in our problems. He is enthroned in heaven holding the universe in his divine power, but somehow it’s not difficult to believe he does not care about his redeemed children’s lives and the cries of their broken hearts.
But dear heart, God does care! He is not absent in our cries and has placed every one of our tears in a bottle (Psalm 56:8). He admonishes us to cast our cares and anxieties upon him because of his great love for us (1 Peter 5:7). He desires for us to come to him with our pain, stress, and frustrations in prayer, and he promises to hear us.
What better friend could we ever ask for?
Through loneliness or hurt, I tend to dwell on the pain and become embittered. I get angry and direct my eyes inward in pity, rather than upward in prayer and praise. I would rather dwell upon the manner of my own hurt and selfishness than to dwell upon the glorious love of Jesus, who is the best friend anyone could ever be blessed with.
Through friendship struggles, I have begun to see God’s friendship to his children through different eyes. Through all of this, I have seen how temporary friendships are. All of my time and energy spent on developing these friendships can vanish in a heartbeat.
However, friendship with the Lord is infinite. Not only that, but it serves as a comfort and a joy through the storm and relentless struggles.
As the apostle Paul says in Romans 8:38-39,
“For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
This friend will never leave no matter what we ever do. This friend will always be there no matter how our feelings betray us. Although broken hearts are inevitable, this friend is indeed the mender of all broken hearts.