Making friends as an adult is hard. I got really lucky when I met a woman at work and she and I instantly bonded. I honestly hadn’t had many female friends up until that point and it was exciting. I had never had anyone to go shopping with me or just kick it on a Friday night. When my friend started dating a drug addict, I didn’t know what to do.
I’m not the kind of person who can stay quiet about how I feel. Over the years I have gotten better at waiting until people ask my opinion before I shout it out, but with close friends, I am my true self. I think friendship is the ability to be as honestly myself as I can be. But what do you say when your friend is making decisions that are harmful to themselves?
I told her I thought she was making a mistake. I told her I didn’t understand why she didn’t think more of herself. I asked, ‘don’t you respect yourself enough to date someone who isn’t going to pawn things from your house to make drug money?’
She told me she loved him. He loved her. He wasn’t going to do it anymore. He wasn’t going to steal from her again. He wasn’t using. She truly believed all of those things. She talked about leaving him, but she just couldn’t do it. I sat with her as she talked to her therapist on speakerphone after he wrecked her car and I was so mad at her and at the therapist for not demanding she leave this man.
These are the things you do when you love someone. Just like she didn’t want to give up on him, I didn’t want to give up on her. I wanted her to make the right choice so badly that I know, at times, I was not as delicate or giving as I could have been. I always listened to her, but I had closed off the part of my heart that felt compassion for her, and I only felt confusion and sadness with each recounting of what he had done to her that day.
I was determined not to give up, but we kind of hit a wall as friends. I couldn’t hear about it anymore and she couldn’t talk about anything else. She knew I wanted him out of her life and I am sure that made it hard to confide in me. She wanted him out too, but she also wanted to help him get well. I wouldn’t hang out with them together. I’m not sure what exactly changed, but in the end she let him go.
She and I had a time when we had to learn to trust each other again. Things had been so tense in her life, and my feelings were surrounded by the fear of her going back to him. It took us time to be friends again. We are stronger now as individuals and as friends because we know we can weather it.
In the time since then, I like to think I have approached friendship issues with more compassion. It is good and necessary to speak up if a friend is engaging in harmful behavior, but I have tried to be more flexible in my actions afterward. I have given more love and been more caring. I have tried to let go of my anger and find more grace for my friends.
I have decided that if you invest time in another person, you shouldn’t be easily persuaded to give that up. That friendship is worth fighting for again and again, although maybe sometimes that fight isn’t pretty. Friendship becomes harder as we grow older. We make hard decisions every day and have to deal with the consequences of our actions.
My best friends and I, we’ve earned that title. We’ve battled many tough roads and come through beaten and broken as individuals, but together as friends.
I approach friendship now with honesty and love, and hopefully the ability to challenge each other to be the best versions of ourselves, for ourselves. There may be pain, but in the end there is strength and growth, and most of all, love.
This post reflects the views of the author, and is intended to start a conversation. Please share your thoughts in the comments below!
Or, if you’d like to hear some overall thoughts on friendship from Christians at THRED, you can find those over here.