Friends and Allies
Friendship is one of the best gifts we are given in life. It’s also one of the trickiest of relationships to navigate.
When I was a little girl, my family moved to a new place every couple of years. By the time I was eight years old, my family had lived in six different places. As a result, I learned to make friendships easily, but to not expect that they would last forever. However, I didn’t learn until much later in life that you could lose friendships for reasons other than moving to a new place. I thought that once a friendship was forged, you were friends for life.
It has been painful over the past decade to discover that there are many reasons that friendships don’t last. One of my friends described friendship as annuals and perennials. Some you have for a little while, but then they fizzle out. The annuals. Others are life long friends and when you’re together, you just pick up where you left off. The perennials.
I strive to be a perennial friend. I love reconnecting with people I haven’t seen in awhile. And even if someone has hurt me deeply, I will welcome them back if they want a friendship with me. I would describe myself as loyal. Some would say to a fault.
In the process of losing friends, I have learned that I need to have a thicker skin, but the truth is “I have no notion of loving people by halves, it is not my nature.” (from Northanger Abbey, by Jane Austen).
Recently, a pastors’ wife friend shared the concept of “friends and allies”. We can and should be friends with anyone who desires friendship with us. But allies are an entirely different level of friendship. Allies are the ones who know your faults and your weaknesses and they love you anyway. They know how to challenge you, but you never worry that you will be too much for them. You just know that they are there for you no matter what. And you are there for them.
I would call these friends, “friends without pretense”. You never feel like you have to earn their friendship or that if you mess up one more time, that will be the end of that. You don’t have to worry about having differences of opinion. In fact, with allies, you welcome the different perspectives and know that you can share your thoughts without worrying about being written off. Allies understand that we are all on a journey and so the place we are at now is not where we will be in a year or two or ten. And they are in it for the long haul.
As I consider this, it makes so much sense to me. Not all friends will be allies and that’s okay. We can enjoy friendships with a wide group of people, but the allies are a much smaller group.
I have to tell you that as a pastor’s wife, friendships can be a challenge. I feel sometimes like everyone expects me to be an ally to them, but they only have to offer friendship to me. It’s conditional. This can feel scary, especially when you lose a lot of friendships all at once. Who are you supposed to trust?
What the Lord is teaching me is that he is the best ally I could ever have! He will never leave me or forsake me. In fact, he loved me so much that he was willing to die in my place, paying the penalty for my sins and rising again giving me new life in him. We’re celebrating all of that this weekend and I am eternally grateful.
My husband is also an ally and I feel so blessed that after a difficult year, we are able to continue to love and support each other no matter what. I know this is not always the case- sometimes people discover in great adversity that they married a friend, not an ally. This is a painful reality that so many are facing and I do not want to make light of it. But I can’t possibly write a post on this subject without acknowledging my best human ally!
This year has shown me that I have more allies in my life than I even knew. You don’t know how strong a friendship is until it is tested. I am grateful for the friendships that have stood strong against the challenges of this past year. For all of my precious allies- thank you!
It is scary to trust when you feel betrayed. And I have to acknowledge that while I feel betrayed by friends, they probably feel the same way. And so, all I can do is find my security in Christ and keep reaching out in love to the best of my ability. No expectations. No strings attached.
What have you learned from friendships in your life?