Am I a Friend?

Friend? I would be less than honest if I didn’t say that the word “friend” provokes both terror and tenderness in my heart. The terror includes the faces of those who have carried the disappointment and betrayal of having me as their friend. It is not difficult to recognize those faces scrolling through my mind; unfortunately they are the ones that are the most prominent as I ponder the word “friend.” It would be easy for me to get swallowed up here as contempt creeps in to say that disappointment and betrayal are what define me as a friend, because there is a measure of truth that attaches me to those words.

It has taken some time and reflection to begin to see beyond those words to the truth of how I show-up as a friend. While those words are most likely still in place for some, for me they are losing their power in my heart. I have started asking for help as to why those words have existed with others in the first place.

I’ve discovered that disappointment and betrayal have come in those moments where I have spoken my truth and where I have withheld it as well.

Recently someone said to me, “You don’t reward bad behavior.” Whoa! I know that to be true of pets and children, but adults? Christian adults? I don’t believe I would have said it quite like THAT but I know now that, “Yes,” I have rewarded bad behavior in my silence and the withholding of my truth. Likewise I have been on the brunt end of the fury that follows when I have not responded to bad behavior by speaking up. Both have created a cringe in my gut as my cortisol levels soar and my terror increases. Both resulted in disappointment and betrayal…so where is the balance?

My balance is found in the One who holds my heart and my reputation. For many years I have relied on others to keep me in balance, requiring me to repackage myself with each new situation. It worked for a lot of those years as I swallowed words and spoke words to keep me feeling correct and accepted. I was afraid and I didn’t want to be dropped.

The shift has required me to come close to God as I allow my heart to rest with His. It has required me to shift away from contempt as I trust His love for me. It has required me to believe that I am more than one who betrays and disappoints. I don’t need to be in terror or afraid of being dropped…He is safe and He drops no one!

So it is with tenderness I am holding the faces of disappointment and betrayal…theirs and mine. My heart is huge; there is room for many faces, however they appear with the memory of our friendship. It is with kindness I hold my terror and fear of being dropped. Both tap into that vulnerable place that is hidden in my heart and keeps me longing for more in my friendships. The goodness of my heart holds it all.

My hope is that you will be honest about your friends. My hope is that in your honesty you will discover that tender place in your heart where your truth resides and your balance is found. My hope, too, is that you will rest, along with me, in the One who holds your heart.

MJMary Jane Hamilton has grown to love her sense of style and her peaceful lake living. Mother of 2 and grandmother of 6, she has a wonderful capacity to love and is still active as The Tooth Fairy. She is extremely fond of her dachshunds, who rarely venture from her lap, and enjoys biking with her husband of 44 years. She is rekindling her writing skills and finding it life giving.