rebelling against low expectations

3 Ways to Love Your Friends with Honesty


“It takes a great deal of bravery to stand up to our enemies, but just as much to stand up to our friends.” – Albus Dumbledore

“Sara, I wish that you had invited me.” We sat across from each other, afternoon light playing with the steam rising from our mugs of tea. I uncomfortably folded the tea bag tag into a tiny square.

Erin and I were serving on the same ministry team, and God had been doing some incredible things in one of the kids we had been investing in. Circumstances made it so that I ended up being there to facilitate and witness the change in him, but Erin was discouraged.

She had put in just as much time and effort and prayer but wasn’t getting to be part of any of the action. “I’m sorry, Erin. I wanted to invite you. But I don’t know what to do with the schedule.” I felt frustrated.

I don’t like frustration. Normally, I bury it. I’d much rather people like me than voice the things that bother me. I wanted to roll over and play dead. But I knew God had opened the door of opportunity for me with this kid. And I knew God had led Erin in a different, good direction.

So instead of running away from the situation, we talked. We were honest about our insecurities. We were honest about our frustrations. We faced conflict.

And . . . the world didn’t fall apart. We both apologized, we both humbled ourselves, and we both needed to change. Life kept going and our work was strengthened by our conversation. The kid in question benefited. More than that, our friendship was strengthened. We exited the apartment more unified than we’d been.

If you’re like me, you squirm at the thought of confrontation. But lately, while I wouldn’t say I like conflict or have overcome the nausea of it, I am growing to embrace it. Because an honest friendship is a safe, loyal, enduring one.

Today, I want to share three ways to be honest with your friends . . . and how to actually start those hard conversations.

1. Sharing What You Disagree With

An honest friendship is not afraid of disagreement. Proverbs 27:6 says, “Wounds from a friend can be trusted, but an enemy multiplies kisses.”

Without disagreement, our ideas never change.

When we shy away from disagreement, we’re shying away from loving our friends and helping them grow.

When we shy away from disagreement, we are shying away from an opportunity to learn and an opportunity to understand our friends on a deeper level.

When we shy away from disagreement, we shy away from the truth in favor of placating and even deception.

I could have just apologized to Erin when she voiced her frustration and moved on. But then I wouldn’t have gotten to learn about her vision for 2×2 ministry—a vision that has changed my life to this day—nor would she have gotten to understand all that God was trying to teach her.

Disagreements, when faced with a heart of love and a desire to learn, become something that brings blessings.

How do we do this? Here’s a phrase to get you started: “That’s an interesting perspective. I actually think . . .”

2. Sharing What You Hope For

I got a text this week from a close friend. We have kept up through the years—sometimes our communication falters and we go months without really talking. But then we pick it up again and find we’re still kindred spirits.

But this week, she shared with me something she wanted: regular phone calls. “Maybe once a month or so.” I got excited, thankful for her initiation. In the past, I might have just said “Yes, let’s put it on the calendar” and moved on.

However, I wanted something too. I wanted to do a call every week, I wanted to share life together and not just always be catching up.

Because we both shared what we wanted and hoped for, our friendship now gets to grow. It would have been so easy for one of us to assume what the other wanted. When we did that in the past, we’d fallen into one of those months-without-talking-phases even though neither of us wanted it.

So often, in friendship, we don’t share what we hope for out loud.

We hope for a significant other, but we worry our friends will judge us. We hope for more quality time with our friends but worry they don’t want quality time with us. We hope to become a published author, but we think friends will say it’s unrealistic.

Sharing our hopes is a vulnerable, hard thing. But when we share them with safe friends, they can be enormously valuable sources of encouragement and support.

How do we do this? Here’s a phrase to get you started: “I hope for . . .”

3. Sharing What Bothers You

“I notice that often in the evenings, there are dishes left in the sink that aren’t from our group, and the peanut butter is especially difficult to clean off.” I was getting better at this confrontation thing, but I still felt a pang of nervousness as the words left my mouth.

However, my coworkers nodded. “Yeah, that has to be annoying, especially without hot water. We’ll talk to the others about it.”

After that, instead of ending a long day of work cleaning up other people’s messes and battling my frustration about it, I got to pray. Instead of feeling aggravated, I was deeply thankful for my coworkers’ sensitivity to my preferences.

It created a wonderful work environment. Sure, I could have meekly continued washing dishes, and that would have been good, too. But when we don’t express our preferences, it can be so easy for bitterness to build up over small things.

Saying what bothers you is allowed and healthy in all relationships.

How do we do this? Here are two phrases to get you started: “I notice . . .” “I prefer . . .”

Love Your Friends with Honesty

Being honest in my friendships has opened the door to closeness, freedom, joy, and growth in my life, and I hope it will in yours too. Together, let’s follow the example of Jesus, who always loved His friends with honesty.

Who do you need to be honest with today? When is the right context to approach that conversation?

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About the author

Sara Willoughby

is the 20-year-old author of He's Making Diamonds: A Teen's Thoughts on Faith Through Chronic Illness. She loves to read, write, and have adventures, be it off to Narnia one more time, wading through mud chasing the family dog, or playing a new board game with her two younger siblings. Sara is also a Lymie, TCK, and Bright Lights leader. You can find her at


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  • I have recently found The Rebelution, and it’s been so encouraging! There have been times when it feels as if I am the only one in my generation living my life for Jesus, but I am not! And to see how many teens are out there living for God’s glory, it’s amazing.
    It reminds me of when Elijah thought he was the only one left who served God, but God told Elijah He had “reserved 7,000 men, all whose knees have not bowed to Baal”. (1 Kings 19:18)
    Through The Rebelution I am seeing God’s reserved, those who have not summited themselves unto the world.
    Thank you for sharing Sara! 🙂

    • Same!! I’d struggled to understand what it meant to glorify God with my life, thought I’d be able to do it effectively once I’d “grown up”, and just generally felt empty and lost… but reading Do Hard Things and finding The Rebelution really changed my perspective! I’ve been so encouraged in my faith and have learnt so much. Glad you’re here, Lydiyah!

  • I often hide my thoughts and emotions and tend to run away from problems rather than face them, but I know that this lack of honesty in my friendships has been a barrier and one of the reasons for multiple shallow relationships. Thanks for the article, it gave me lots to think about!

rebelling against low expectations

The Rebelution is a teenage rebellion against low expectations—a worldwide campaign to reject apathy, embrace responsibility, and do hard things. Learn More →