Proverbs 27: 10 Never abandon a friend— either yours or your father’s. When disaster strikes, you won’t have to ask your brother for assistance. It’s better to go to a neighbor than to a brother who lives far away…17 As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend.
Proverbs 27: 23 Know the state of your flocks, and put your heart into caring for your herds, 24 for riches don’t last forever, and the crown might not be passed to the next generation. 25 After the hay is harvested and the new crop appears and the mountain grasses are gathered in, 26 your sheep will provide wool for clothing, and your goats will provide the price of a field. 27 And you will have enough goats’ milk for yourself, your family, and your servant girls.
Maybe I have abandonment issues, because I hate the thought of abandoning people. I see sassy Facebook quotes about cutting people out of your life, and I cringe. The most beneficial friendships go through times where we don’t feel a bit friendly, but the Christmas cookies from the neighbor make me glad I gave her an early morning jump start. The fun visits with my bestie blur the memory of the summer that threatened to end us.
So why the sassygrams? Well, people can be crabs. Not like Lucy, but like Terry Pratchett describes in Unseen Academicals:
“Oh, that’s crabs for you,” said Verity, disentangling the ones who had hitched a ride. “Thick as planks, the lot of them. That’s why you can keep them in a bucket without a lid. Any that tries to get out gets pulled back.”
People may do that, pull us down when we start to rise. When we realize it, we yank loose of everyone and jump for freedom. We need friends who encourage us to succeed, and verses 23-27 tell us it’s okay and even wise to look after our own resources and our own work.
It’s Proverbs, the Book of Wisdom, so there must be a balance to maintain, right? I believe there is, and it’s here:
1) Take care of yourself. Maintain your values, your relationship with God and your work. If you’re married or have children, take care of what you have at home.
2) Pray for God to keep you positive and focused, even when you have difficult times with people. Get excited that God is making you stronger and more capable. Get humble when you lose it. Get happy about unconditional love. Get the point that if God is your Coach, you’ll run this track until you’re good at this hurdle. Even if you ditch all your friends, new ones will put you through your paces. God has eternal plans for you and lots of patience.
3) Know that sometimes, it does become necessary to love people from a distance, or to just trust God to look out for them and walk away. Pray first, but respond promptly if God says go. If someone is abusing you, or helping you stay in bondage to a destructive habit, or if you just find yourself repeatedly asking God for forgiveness because you aren’t yet capable of being Christlike around them, it’s okay to walk away. God isn’t disappointed in you.
Jesus ministered to the needy, the crazy and the just plain bad. He was direct and didn’t let them lie, yet He found a way to be loving. If you need help learning how to keep friendships without losing yourself, I highly recommend Boundaries. It saved my sanity and a longterm friendship for which I’m grateful.
Lord, You set the best example of servanthood and focus. Please guide us as we learn how Your techniques should work in our own relationships.