Have you ever noticed how friendships will start out great and over time become a struggle? The person that used to be fun slowly becomes a hassle or a challenge? Why does this happen? Is it you? Is it them? Is there anything you can do about it?
Friendships can be life’s greatest blessing or worst nightmare depending on how you approach them. That’s right, your approach or expectations can play a big part in the success or failure of a friendship. For example, if you expect your friendships to always be fun and encouraging, then you don’t understand how relationships work and will most likely cycle through “friends” on a regular basis. Or, you just may avoid making any new friends because of past pain. Either way, the problem starts or ends with your expectations.
So what should you expect in your friendships?
Well, first of all, you should expect them to be enjoyable. I suppose this is why we even make certain friends because we enjoy their company. This is usually what draws us to certain people and not others. I don’t think this is earth shattering news, so enough said.
Secondly, you should expect your friendships to become a challenge. That’s right, any healthy or growing friendship will require conflict. This is actually called stage two in Group Dynamic Theory and always necessary to go a level deeper in your relationships. This means that “conflict” can actually be a good thing and reflect a positive direction in your friendships. If you decide to bail out at this stage, then you will never experience the deeper blessing of true friendship and will always remain at superficial levels. When a friendship enters the conflict stage, it simply means both parties are trying to resolve their differences and go a level deeper. This is where the Bible encourages patience in the process…
And we urge you, brothers, admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all. 1 Thess 5:14
Practicing patience during the conflict stage actually becomes your key to successful friendships. When you patiently allow your friends to share their challenges with you, you are actually helping them pass through this stage at a quicker pace. The result will be deeper devotion and greater unity together. (i.e. stage three) No one likes conflict, agreed? But if you expect conflict as a necessary part of any healthy and growing friendship, you will go a long way in experiencing the type of friendships God intended for you.
Friendships are an important part of life and good friends are even more important. So practice patience, expect conflict, and enjoy the friends that God has given you. Remember, if you’re a Christian, Jesus calls you His friend and that is a blessing! (John 15:15)
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