Do you have friends who will wound your pride for your holiness?
Recently I was regaling two of my closest friends with my quarter-life crisis woes. This has been happening fairly often in this difficult season of life, but this time I suddenly found myself aggressively resisting their attempts at talking sense into me. I simply wasn’t ready to hear what my friends had to say. I felt like I was entitled to figure things out my way.
What I shared with my two friends that night was that I was believing less and less that God actually had a direction and plan for my life. I told them I wanted to explore other options outside of what was “Christian”.
And when my friends tried to warn me against all the things that could go wrong – all my walls went up.
I felt attacked. I was indignant that they were treating me like I was someone to be babied. On top of my bruised ego, I felt misunderstood. “You wouldn’t understand” and “don’t preach to me” were some of my rude rebuttals.
Though I felt offended, there was a moment in our verbal altercation when it suddenly hit me: My friends were desperately trying to get through to me. In the anger and frustration of the moment, I still felt an unconditional love through their words. I could feel it through their body language and the pleading look in their eyes.
It felt like God was reaching out to me through these two friends sitting across me at the dinner table. I love you and I don’t want to see you get hurt.
That convicted me to hear them out without being defensive at every turn. I knew I needed to shut up and just listen. And when I did, my heart softened.
Nothing that they said was what I wanted to hear, yet their words started to make sense to me. Through this difficult conversation, God revealed to me I had a deep void in my life which I was filling with everything but Him.
I’m thankful both my friends made it their business to check my blindspots, even when it was uncomfortable and difficult. They weren’t obligated to – no one would blame them if they had just let me continue on a path towards ruin – but they decided that it was their job as friends to dish out tough love to me.
Especially when I didn’t want it.
When we had calmed down significantly and the conversations eased back into friendly banter, one of my friends turned to me and said: “You know, it’s only because we love you that we’re telling you this. Would you have rather we kept quiet instead?”
I thought about it carefully before I answered: “No, I wouldn’t. Am I offended? Yes … Very. But if I had to do it all over again, I would want you guys to do the exact same thing for me, even when it gets hard. Especially then.
“I’m sorry I was harsh. I don’t deserve it, but God knows that I need friends like the both of you to keep me in check. Please, don’t ever stop talking sense into me.”
It’s easy to love people when they’re lovable. It’s difficult when they are defiant and unteachable. I’m so grateful that my friends would push through to me even when I was putting up a huge fight.
That night I learnt that the very best friends are not afraid to have difficult conversations with us, even if it comes at a cost to them (Philippians 2:4).
They are wise enough to look past our insults made in defence (Proverbs 12:16) and are quick to listen, slow to anger and slow to speak (James 1:19).
Friends that will wound you for holiness are hard to come by.
We also need to learn how to be such a friend. Not obnoxiously, but with love. So that even when it’s hard — and especially then — we’d be willing to go the extra mile for our friends on the brink of making bad decisions.
So let’s be a real friend. Let’s speak the truth with love.