Friendship is Not a Two-Way Street

KIM BARNES|GUEST

When my husband was in seminary, he did a summer internship at a church in Bradenton, Florida. The young pastor and his wife were very encouraging to us and gave us some great marriage advice: “Remember that marriage is never 50/50. It’s always 90/10. Sometimes you’re the 90. Sometimes you’re the 10.” It turns out this isn’t only good marriage advice, but applies just as well to friendship. We make a mistake when we view our friendships as equal partnerships where there is an equal investment of resources, from both parties.

Many of us have had thoughts like:

“I reach out to her to get together, but she never reaches out to me.”

“I’ve left messages, but she’s not replying. The ball’s in her court.”

“I’m always the one asking about her life, she never asks about me.”

“I care about her, but I’m tired of having a one-sided friendship.”

“I’m making all the effort to keep the friendship going.”

What do you do when you have these thoughts? Sometimes, we give up on the relationship. And that might be the right thing to do. Maybe the friendship has run its course. Not all friendships are forever, and friendships wane in intensity. But I urge you to not give up too quickly. What if Jesus decided he was going to stop pursuing us because he wasn’t getting anything out of the relationship?

The Scripture speaks volumes about sacrificial love. If we are to model Jesus’s love, then we ought not expect to receive equal to what we give.

“This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one this, that someone lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:12-13).

“Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor.” (Romans 12:10).

“So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets” (Matthew 7:12).

Friendships go through seasons. Sometimes you’re the one experiencing more from the relationship and other times you’re giving more to it than your friend. You may have one or two friendships where over the course of time, you give and receive equally. But more often than not, friendships are at least a little one-sided. We need to acknowledge that and not view it as a bad thing.

If you’re investing more in the relationship, perhaps it’s because you have more to give. Maybe you’re in a season of life where you have more time than your friend. Or maybe your friend is experiencing a trial or is battling illness, while you’re in a time of relative peace and health. If that is the case, then rejoice and be generous with your “wealth”.

Or maybe you’re the one hurting. Maybe you’re the person who feels like a burden to your friends. Perhaps you hesitate to seek the support or encouragement of a friend because of your neediness. You’re concerned that you’re putting too much of a strain on your friend with your needs and problems. If that is the case, rejoice in the gift of a friend and gratefully seek and receive encouragement knowing that your friend’s opportunity to bear your burden is a blessing.

That’s right. We are blessed in bearing burdens. We are blessed in showing mercy. We are blessed in giving of our emotional, physical, and spiritual resources generously. God’s economy is upside down. Don’t be afraid of giving too much. Your Lord owns everything and you are His heir. We all have purchases we regret, but you’ll never regret what you give away in the name of Jesus.

Kim has been married to Robert for over 27 years. She recently concluded a career as a homeschooling mom, and is adjusting to a new season of life and ministry. Kim and Robert have a 19 year old daughter and an 18 year old son who are now college students. One of Kim’s favorite things to do is to lead the women’s Bible study at Dayspring PCA in Spring Hill, Fla., where her husband is the pastor. 

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