4 Signs You’re in an Unhealthy Friendship

“A friend loves at all times.” Proverbs 17:17

Friendship is often seen at face value, much like this popular verse. On the surface, a friendship may look peaceful and perfect, promised to go the way it’s supposed to go, without a hitch or hiccup. We need our tribe to support us. This is often where we get it wrong. Friendships falter when we loft them above our relationship with Christ.

The entirety of Proverbs 17:17 reads, “A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.” The definition of adversity is littered with words like “unfavorable, misfortune, clarity, distress, and unfortunate.” Adversity is a circumstance or condition. Proverbs 17:17 is speaking of a life altering, life changing, season. We are promised to many marking moments on earth, and not every friend will be active in every season. When we live life scrambling to find friends to mend the broken and shifting pieces, we fall out of alignment, and it can damage our friendships. Here are four signs of unhealthy friendship.

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Finding the Power of Female Friendships Where I Least Expected

It’s been two decades since my high school friend passed on to heaven, and I still can’t bring myself to go to a class reunion. Knowing she won’t be there solidifies the fact that lasting female friendships are hard to come by. God has a way of placing people to speak truth into our lives. No one could expose my terrible choices, applaud the successes I was too timid to share, or shake up a Sunday service by clapping and dancing in worship with me like my friend did. For a chronically insecure girl like me, her loss was devastating.

Through the long road of healing, God has graciously bloomed flowers of remarkable friendship. Each God-placed friend has extended the love of Jesus to me when I have needed it most, sometimes unknown even to them. When we seek God with all of our hearts, He blesses us with people to share life with. Here are three friendships that came into my life when I least expected to meet a lifelong friend. 

1. The Friend that Tracked Me Down

“Orpah kissed her mother-in law goodbye, but Ruth clung to her” (Ruth 1:14).

She had invited me to FCA, which ignited my faith and led me to officially surrender my life to Christ. Her life reflects her solid faith. Even amid the pressures of college life that all but took me out, she remained steady in her faith. When I became a ghost, she never stopped looking for me. Before social media was a thing, it was possible to disappear for a little bit. That’s exactly what I did as my life unraveled and I destroyed the shattered remnants of my first marriage. I started to pull back and disappear, ashamed and scared that God would never be able to use me, and my past friends would never forgive me. But this friend never gave up trying to find me. Jesus never gives up on us.

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10 Friendships of the Bible to Learn From

“A friend loves at all times.” Proverbs 17:17

God’s intention of friendship is love. Friendship should be less about what we get out of it and more about how we can serve God through it. 1 Corinthians 13:13 reminds us that out of “faith, hope, and love… the greatest of these is love.”

Jesus reiterated the importance of love when he reminded His followers to love God first with all their heart and soul (Matthew 22:37) and then love our neighbor as ourselves. (Matthew 22:39)

These ten friendships put God first and I believe when we model ours after these examples, we will experience friendship the way God intended us to.

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Who Were Jesus’ Friends

“You are my friends.” (John 15:14)

Jesus had a close circle of 12 on this earth, but He calls us friends, too. The NKJV Chronological Bible Notes for this verse explain,“While He was not implying that His friends were His equals, He was offering to share with them what belonged to Him.” And the second half of John 15:14, “You are my friends, if you do what I command,” gives us a glimpse into Jesus’ perspective of friendship. 

It’s important to consider what friendship meant in Bible times. The NIV Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible states that “the language of friendship was applied to patron-client relationships, in which patrons supplied some needs of clients.” NKJV Chronological Study Bible Notes says, “In the Roman world, a ‘friend’ was often a political ally who owed one a favor, or a more powerful patron on whom one could depend.”

But we don’t often think of the friends of Jesus as political allies or business acquaintances. Jesus took a concept familiar to those that surrounded Him at the time, and redefined what it meant to be a friend. “Jesus is our model for love… If believers obey His command to love, they enjoy the intimacy of His friendship. Friendship… is not a once-for-all gift, but develops as the result of obeying Jesus’ command to love” (NKJV Study Bible).

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The Step Back. (#jammed daily devo, day 191)

July #jammed: Grace serves.

Day 191: Space to breathe.

 Be like obedient children as you put aside the desires you used to pursue when you didn’t know July 10better.” 1 Peter 1:13

“Are  you ready to go?!” I excitedly asked my toddlers.

“YAAAAYYYY!!!!” and off we went to meet up with friends for a day of fun in the sun.

Or, so we thought.

No replies all morning, I had a sneaking suspicion that we were being ignored. Ditched, even. Hoping the lack of reply on the other meant a silenced ringer or a dead phone, we headed off to the planned meeting spot anyway. Every suspicion I’d had was right, and then some.

“Mom, there they are! Right over there!”

I took a deep breath and walked over to join, where we all felt the sting I feared. Rejection. My daughter walked up to me with tears in her eyes, and we both cried all the way home. I somehow thought life would be different in the grown-up world  …but I was wrong. And it stung.

Today’s verse is a stark reminder of what to do when we feel worldly pain like my daughter and I did that day. First, forgive. Without even thinking about it. And then, we ask God  how to guard the hearts.

Walking with Jesus changes us, but it doesn’t drag everyone else along with us. There will be times when, no matter how much we want to be friends with everyone …and believe me, no one wants that more than me …we have to handle conflict and allow our hearts space to heal.

What I learned that day, and continue to learn from every reoccurring experience like it, is that rejection won’t crush me or kill me. In fact, it brings me closer to Jesus. We will often spend our whole lives looking for someone as dependable and reliable and loving and compassionate as He is. We will never find that person. He is it. The One that shouldered the cross is the only one capable of cradling our hearts.

So all of the coffee dates unhonored, dinners ditched out of, and unreturned messages are not in vain. Loving people is never wrong, and neither is forgiveness. But the hurt leaves a little bit of a scar after the wound heals. One to remind us to prayerfully guard our hearts.

Take the space to welcome other faces. Be friends with everyone, but know who your Friend is.

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Father, Praise You for friendship. Thank You for the good and the hurt that comes from letting the guard of our hearts down. Forgive us for seeking solace in anyone other than You, and help us to know when we’ve earned some space. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Get the conversation started by commenting below, and let’s encourage one another as we face life in 2017 armed with grace! 


Happy Friend-ing


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