We’ve all been there. That time when we are a grade-A mess, where emotions take over and we end up saying or doing hurtful things.
Maybe you’re thinking about a time when you were like this. Or maybe, as it is often easier, you’re thinking about a time when a friend treated you like this.
I can think of both.
I’ve had friends say hurtful things, ignore phone calls and treat me like dirt.
But to be honest, I’ve done the same.
Why is it that we tend to push away the ones we love in our times of need?
God created us for fellowship - to walk alongside each other, to encourage each other and to love each other.
But when hard times come, many of us close up and retreat. Often, when we struggle most, it becomes hard to accept the love and support of a friend.
How can we cultivate peace and patience in our friendships even when things get tough?
How can we be God’s love to our friends when we are weary of the conflict?
Choosing Peace as Your Guide
“So this is it? After more than 10 years, we just stop talking?”
“I guess so.”
These final words of a long-time sisterhood were a devastating end to a special friendship. This friendship had seen us through so many ups and downs. We’d gone through heartbreak and joy together, laughing and crying with each other through every season.
But in the end, this friendship was no longer ruled by peace, but by our own colliding selfish desires and expectations.
Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. -Colossians 3:15
It is so easy to bump the peace of Christ from this position.
How often do we allow other things to rule in our hearts?
Fear. Heartbreak. Success. Selfishness. Etc. etc.
But without the peace of Christ as our guide, we stray from the path God intends us to walk along.
Without the peace of Christ ruling our hearts, the setbacks of friendship will break us.
Our friends can be our closest allies, our greatest support, and yet they hold the power to cause our biggest hurts and deepest frustrations.
As with any close relationship, our vulnerability invites opportunity for pain.
Sometimes at this realization, I quickly shrink back and close up, grasping at any sense of control or protection of my heart.
But that is exactly where Satan wants us - stuck in the fear of the fellowship God intended for us.
We need the peace of Christ to boldly love our friends despite the chance of hurt, betrayal, or heartbreak.
As we discover how to let that peace rule, we can begin to develop authentic and powerful friendships that last.
Letting Peace Rule
Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you. -Phillippians 4:8-9
Are you filling your mind with good, pure and true thoughts when it comes to your friendships?
Discovering peace goes hand in hand with taking control of your thought life.
When my thoughts focus on a hurtful comment or cancelled plan, I grow angry, frustrated and upset.
God wants us to give these things to Him and to instead fill our mind with His sufficiency.
When you focus on the sufficiency of Christ, peace will fill your heart and begin to permeate your friendships.
Be aware of what you are thinking about. Does it reflect something good, lovely, or praiseworthy?
Don’t let Satan win over your friendships by allowing him to direct your thoughts. Sometimes it takes an active effort to take every thought captive and make it obedient to Christ.
What can you do this week to direct your thoughts to good as Paul has instructed us to do?
An Overflow of Patience
Patience flows from a heart at peace.
When we are cultivating peace in our lives, we will find the strength to be patient.
Do you ever notice that when you feel a lack of peace, patience is soon to go?
When I do not take the time to allow the peace of Christ to fill my heart, I find myself being impatient and easily irritable.
When I am relying on my friends to fill me, the pressure pushes away the opportunity for patience.
We can become so easily frustrated and discouraged when our friends let us down. But it is a heart of peace that will allow us to act in patience regardless of our disappointment.
The next time you see yourself growing impatient with a friend, consider what your expectations are. Are you expecting them to fill you with the peace that only God can?
As I look back on that broken friendship, I can’t help but see the ways in which Satan had a hold. Does he have a hold on any of your friendships?
Take an honest look at each of your friendships. Is peace ruling your heart as your approach your sister or brother in Christ?
Take time to cultivate a heart of peace and you will see these fruits of the Spirit manifest in your friendships.