This picture that is hanging on the wall of my bedroom really grabbed my attention this morning. It wasn’t the colors that caught my eye, nor how the sunlight shimmered over the glass. My focus wasn’t because of what was nearby either. No. Instead, it was on the verse, “A friend loves at all times” (Proverbs 17:17). And, it was the “at ALL times” that stuck out to me.
Have you ever really thought about what it means to be a friend? What characteristics one possesses that constitutes them a friend?
I did a little research this evening and “friend” is defined as ” a person whom one knows and with whom one has a bond of mutual affection, typically exclusive of sexual or family relations.”
Of course, I took the research a tad further and looked up traits and characteristics of a friend. Most of the material I found listed the same, or similar traits: trustworthy, honest, dependable, good listener, attentive, helpful, and forgiving to name just a few. But, there were two articles that shared something a little more unique. … something we don’t always think of.
That is something I have always valued in my friendships, and I have been blessed with some pretty awesome friends who are not afraid to tell me “how it is”. They don’t simply tell me things I want to hear, but they tell me things I NEED to hear, even when I don’t want to hear them, even when they know it will be difficult for me to hear. And, they do it because the love me, because they want what is best for me, because they care about my welfare – physical, mental, emotional and spiritual well being.
And, I try to do the same for my friends. I love them and care about them and want to see them succeed and flourish and grow and become who God has designed and created and purposed them to be. It isn’t easy to deliver information to someone you love and care about, especially when you know they are not going to like what they hear. But, if we really love them, we will do it any way.
A few weeks ago, God was really dealing with me to talk to a friend and share some things with her, things I knew she would have a hard time hearing. Instead of jumping on board and being faithful and obedient, I pulled a Jonah and thought I could just avoid it. But… that did not work. Long story short, I ended up sharing, reluctantly, I might add, but I shared. It was not planned out. I did not choose my wording in advance. It was a in the moment kind of thing. Despite my reluctance to share the information, I did so in the most loving and gentle way possible for not planning to do it at all. LOL! And, as I feared, it was not received well.
Actually, it went worse than expected. She ended up getting offended, hurt, upset, and mad. None of which were my intent at all. When I reached out to her to reconcile and move forward, it made it worse. She was still so offended and angry that she misunderstood the things I was saying, twisting my words around, missing the point of the message(s). I don’t blame her. I blame the enemy because he had her hearing through offended ears. He had done a number on her and was still doing it. But, I have not heard from her since. It’s been a couple of weeks now, and we were talking every day.
So, when I saw the picture on the wall, and read the scripture, and the “at ALL times” stuck out. I stopped everything I was doing, every thought going through my head, my entire agenda, and I focused on that word “all”.
A friend loves at all times. “All times” includes the times when it’s not easy to love, when someone else doesn’t love you or isn’t showing love to you or being loving toward you. It includes when someone is mad at you or upset with you or feels hurt by you.
In my heart, I told God that I need to love her through this. She may be upset with me, but I am not upset with her. She is going through a difficult time, and even though she may not want my friendship at the moment, it doesn’t mean I can’t be her friend.
Maybe you have a friend who is mad or upset with you. I encourage you to love them. Maybe you’re offended or angry, frustrated or irritated with a loved one. I encourage you to love them anyway.
Remember Ecclesiastes 4:9-10.
Sometimes, the best way we can show others love is simply to be there, praying, willing to listen, willing to talk, willing to make amends, willing to forgive, walking in forgiveness and loving from afar.
We may not be able to physically or verbally reach out to our loved ones, but we can ALWAYS pray for them.
Fight for them in prayer. Pray for them like you would want someone to pray for you. Mean it with your heart. Let love be the motivation and the inspiration for your prayer. Love them. No matter what they said, no matter what they did, no matter how they hurt you or how many times they’ve hurt you…. love them by praying for them. Fight for them and for the relationship in prayer.
For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. – Ephesians 6:12 (NKJV)
For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought captive to the obedience of Christ. – 2 Corinthians 10:3-5 (NKJV)
Did I mention that the picture on the wall, the “A friend loves at all times” scripture picture, was given to me by this particular friend? The enemy will put things to the test, including friendships, but God can work all things out for our good and for His glory. So, when your relationship(s) gets restored, make sure you praise Him and give thanks to Him so that He can be glorified. And, expect good results.
You are a true friend,
Pointing me to Him,
Lifting my downcast eyes,
Pointing my wandering gaze to the skies.
You are a true friend.
You are a true friend.
~ Twila Paris