In my thirties, I was engaged briefly to a man who, as it turns out, had a very serious drinking problem that he hadn’t been entirely honest about—how severe it was and where he really was in “recovery.” When he fell headlong back into the vicious grip of full-fledged alcoholism, our relationship was simply irretrievable.
One day, as I was talking about this to a good friend, a woman I really admired and trusted, she stopped, stood up from behind her desk, reached across it, took both of my hands in hers and, looking me dead straight in the eye, she said, “You cannot marry him.” At that point I had no intention of going forward in the relationship, but I was struck by the sincerity and depth of her friendship at this moment. She wasn’t worried about hurting my feelings; she was thinking of my heart and my future. She wasn’t interested in placating me or shrugging off the tough work that being a true friend sometimes is: telling it straight to your girlfriends takes some daring.
Her willingness to say what needed to be said was a tremendous gift. Especially the way she said it—straight to my face, without hesitation, condemnation, or fear. Instead, she invited me to step wholeheartedly into the truth. I did, and with greater clarity and confidence.
Do you have friends like that? Women willing to stand with you through the murkiest difficulties who will tell you the truth even when it’s painful?
Maybe it’s more important to ask this: am I a friend like that?
I have always been struck by the depth and sincerity of friendships that are borne out of friendship with Christ. The letters of Saint Paul written from prison always recall the virtue of Christian friendship in a very striking way. His affection and concern for his friends rises from the New Testament pages like an incense. He ends today’s missive writing, “Refresh my heart in Christ” (Philemon 1:20).
Oh yes, and I would add, refresh your hearts in friendships that are rooted authentically in Christ.