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WHY I FIGHT FOR MY FRIENDSHIPS

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Fight or flight. Often it is easier to do the latter, especially in a friendship. Distance is created, spoken or unspoken misunderstandings occur, people get hurt. It’s inevitable. So often we give up and walk away. In some cases it is the right thing to do. Not all relationships are healthy and some dissolve over time and that’s okay. That is a different discussion for a different day. But in many cases, people are worth fighting for, and when you find those precious few, the fight is worth it.

My life is rich in this area. I have been given friends to walk through life with, mountains high and valleys low. This can be summed up into two words, loyalty and grace. Grace is free and undeserved. It’s the most beautiful expression of love. Loyalty is a commitment. It doesn’t run when things get tough. It doesn’t allow distance to dissolve a relationship. It is an action (FIGHT) and not a reaction (FLIGHT).

When Chad and I moved from California to Nashville, we left behind some of the closest friendships we have ever formed. And in these, not only is there now distance in location, but in most cases, distance in life stages. Recently I had a talk with one of those friends about this. She is precious to me and one of those worth the fight. I was feeling the hurt of our distance. I knew that we needed to talk, but I was scared of what it might do. I knew I would have to own my part in the matter and dig a little deeper into my heart. I wondered if I was offering enough grace on my end and if she had felt the distance too.

In every relationship, distance is inevitable, and the only way to fix it is to close the gap. In this case, we needed to talk, to extend and accept grace and to close the gap of unspoken misunderstanding. While I went into the conversation fearful of the unknown, I came out of it thankful. For grace and understanding and for a friend who is worth it. Thankful that loyalty doesn’t see conflict as a stop sign but as an opportunity for growth.

This all got me thinking about common threads that I have seen in my strongest friendships. This isn’t all inclusive and I don’t propose it a formula, but I think these things can be key in identifying and nurturing great friendships.

DISCERNMENT IN THE BEGINNING :: Choosing Wisely

“One who has unreliable friends soon comes to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.” Proverbs 18:24

We get to choose our friends and it can’t be said enough to choose wisely. John Kuebler said it this way, “show me your friends and I’ll show you your future.” You don’t have to let everybody in and no two friendships have to look the same. Wise discernment in the beginning will save heartache down the road and free up time to nurture and strengthen the positive friendships in your life.

GRACE IN THE MIDDLE :: Extend and Accept

Extending grace is an act of unselfish love. Accepting it is taking hold of forgiveness. Both shape our hearts to be more like Christ who extended to us the most radical grace imaginable. I love what Paul says in Ephesians 4:1-3, “I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.”  This is a high calling and points us to an unselfish love. Learning to extend and accept grace is a firm foundation in any solid relationship.

FIGHT (COMMIT) TO THE END :: Safety in Assurance

Loyalty fights. It says no matter what. Pick your people and fight with them and for them. Know you will hurt and be hurt, but draw that line in the sand. There is safety in assurance. Jesus is the embodiment of loyalty to us. He will never leave us or forsake us. He is with us until the end of age. When we fall short, He forgives. He is the ultimate fighter. Stick it out. It is where the true beauty lies.

Do you fight or do flight? Is there distance in a relationship that you need to fight for? True beauty is extended and accepted grace. If there is a gap you need to close, then do it. Act now. It’s worth it.