Friendship has not always been very easy for me.
In my earlier years, especially because we moved so often, I had just a few friends of note (one of which I wrote about in day 3). I remember getting along with several people in my classes, and I remember playing with the other kids in our cul-de-sac in California when I was younger (except for the summer we all got chicken pox, but I digress). But it wasn't until fifth grade that I remember having some good friends, as well as problems with other friends.
My sister (whom one could argue is always my best friend, and one would be correct) was blessed with the gift of spiritual discernment. I didn't really recognize this gift when I was trying to be the perfect big sister, and I didn't want to listen to my little sister's warnings about some of my friends. But more often than not, when she had a funny feeling about a friend, sooner or later I would have some sort of conflict or problem with that same friend.
It was so annoying at the time.
Until recently, I had thought that if I'd paid closer attention to my sister and her spiritual discernment, I would have avoided all those painful experiences completely. But I now understand that my teenage stubbornness allowed me go through those painful times, because going through painful friend times as a teen certainly helped me as I navigated more painful friend conflicts as an adult. I may not have always handled those adult friendship troubles with grace or with patience, or even with wisdom. Nevertheless, knowing that the best thing to do was to pray in those situations proved to be invaluable. I doubt I would have known to do that if I hadn't gone through the pain of broken junior high friendships first.
I'm grateful now for those hard times, but I'm even more grateful for my little sister, my best friend in the world.
Which brings me back to why I'm writing about friendship this month. I want to be like my sister: wise and discerning, loving and helpful. I want to share some of what I've experienced to help others. I hope that my writing about one of life's greatest gifts, both the good stories and the bad, will help you better navigate the sea of friendship. Today's valuable lesson is this: Don't ignore what trusted advisers say about your friends. Take it under advisement. Pray about it. Look at the evidence, listen to those who love you, take some time to think and consider, and when necessary, place boundaries around your heart. And when conflict arises, pray first. Pray always. As Melanie Shankle writes in her latest book, "Real friendship requires effort." But more about that tomorrow.
To read the introductory post for this #write31days series, click here.