They say women are like roses, beautiful and fragrant, but beneath the petals lurk hidden thorns.
Maybe it isn’t the fault of the rose. It was just the way she was made.
Maybe the gardener needs to be cautious to not get pricked.
Over the years my best friends have been women.
My girl friends have pulled me through broken relationships, done college assignments for me when I was dating the fiancé, helped maintain sanity when the children when younger, and still are the ones who stick around when life get really hard.
A friend introduced me to Jesus, another friend who showed me ways to get to know him better.
A friend picked me up when I was walking aimlessly in the rain, in the middle of the night, when I didn’t know what I was going to do.
A friend realised I hadn’t eaten for 2 days after a relationship ended- and fed me.
A friend gets me chocolates and gives away hugs when I need them (she knows when).
I have been lucky.
I have been pricked as well… very frequently, repeatedly.
You probably know the signs:
You don’t get replies to messages.
The warmth of the relationship seems gone.
You know that the things you say seem to annoy that person, though not intended to.
Spending time together becomes a dread.
Important information is not conveyed, or misunderstood.
Sometimes you wonder if you need friends at all!
Dee Bestin’s book on “The Friendships of Women”, explores exemplary friendships among women and men in the bible- Ruth and Naomi, Mary and Elizabeth, and David and Jonathan. It taught me, how friendships are part of God’s plan for us, how they help us to grow and develop our higher qualities.
She talks about problems in relationships too- possessiveness, jealousy, homosexuality.
These are few of the things that I learned from her book.
What do you do when a friendship fails?
Abandoning the rose is hardly the solution to a thorn prick, the rose would wilt, the gardener lose her sense of purpose. The rose is after all the queen of flowers.
But that is the natural thing to do.
To abandon and to condemn.
To let pride come in the way, and say it doesn’t matter.
When it does.
1. Don’t be shocked by betrayal!
When someone fails you, the first question that comes to your mind is “Why did that person do it?” It is however more appropriate to think, “Hmm… that confirms what we know from the Bible- We are all sinners, no one is righteous, no, not one.”
2. Others have failings just as we have.
We aren’t perfect, others aren’t either. It is unreasonable to expect a friend to be perfect, especially in a friendship.
No one is perfect except God and he is the only one we can trust. He is the only friend who will never leave you or forsake you. Your failings in this world emphasize that!
3. We need to forgive anyway.
Sometimes we have given so much of our time, energy and strength to unconditionally love a friend, who has failed you. In general the hurt you feel is proportionate to the spiritual energy you have invested in someone. Forgive them anyway. Un forgiveness affects you more than anyone else. Forgiving is healing.
“Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” Epesians 4: 32
4. Don’t take offenses personally.
The rose was born with thorns, it didn’t mean to prick you. It is sometimes wise to see people that way. Again, some people are born with more thorns than others.
Women also tend to be very sensitive about words that were spoken.
A comment about my weight makes me question my value as a woman.
A comment about my child makes me doubt my competence as a mother.
However, it was probably not intended in that way.
5. Cover an offense with love
This is a hard one.
1 Peter 4:8 says “Love covers a multitude of sins.”
Love has a loooong look at the thorn and decides to put up with it, for the sake of keeping the flower. It has helped when I had a good look at the friend ship in question and the value it added to my life.
I would avoid the areas in a particular friendship which has potential for thorns, ie. Trust personal information with a friend who can’t keep secrets, or go for important dates with friends who are habitually late.
6. Confront with love
This is an even harder one.
There is a point where covering grievances with love becomes too much. You are then allowed to confront.
Confrontation is always difficult and too vast a topic to be covered just in one blog.
Just two main points:
- Do not confront in anger.
- The aim of confrontation is to make a difference in the person (not to break that person down or to ventilate your feelings.)
7. Beware of Alligators
There is a difference between a rose and an alligator.
Alligators are full of thorns and are ready to bite and devour you completely. When you recognise an alligator, flee. You can never be safe near one.
Also do not mistake a rose for an alligator, if there are lovely petals, it is a rose with a lot of thorns, which needs a lot of love and nurture.
So why does all this matter so much?
If you have friends, there are high chances you will be hurt.
How you respond to it matters.
The bible tells us to “Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way fulfil the law of Christ.” Gal 6:2
The bible talks about the Good Samaritan in Luke 10 who goes out of his way to help a stranger. How much more should we support a friend!
“He went to him and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he set him on his own animal and brought him to an inn and took care of him. …” Luke 10
Jesus said, “Go and do likewise.”
Picture credit: http://www.buzzfeed.com