I'm doing a series on Friends. And it occured to me that while it is important to have a definition of what a friend is, it is also important to know what a friend is not.
What I've learned can be summed up pretty easily:
When someone shows you their true colors, believe them.
It's easy to be connected to someone who seems to have your back, who seems to have similar cvalues to your own, who says and does all the right things. But at some point, you might catch a glimpse of something that makes you sit back and really question who this person is because it just doesn't seem to fit your understanding of them.
On the one hand, there is value to exploring further to see if there is an underlying issue. And I've gone through that, of course. When something is so completely out of character that I know there is something else going on and my friend just needs me to be their friend and help them through it.
On the other hand, there are situations where those true colors come out and it just lines up with something in your gut. Maybe something you haven't fully been trusting all along. Maybe something that is just too far across a line.
Maybe someone has a temper and you've heard about it but never seen it. Then you're out with your friend and you disagree with something they've said and the temper flares up at you... the true colors are seen.
I'm not saying that means you can't be friends anymore. We all have our own true colors, after all. But you do have to know what your values are, what is important to you as a quality in your friends, and decide if finding out that someone has a temper... is prone to gossip... lies... has a real issue with punctuality... whatever... is that a deal breaker? Is that something a reason to pull back in that friendship?
Bottom line is simply that you are worth more than you think you are. So often, I think we put time and energy into friendships that aren't positive and supportive and loving because we don't think we deserve better. We feel guilty for quitting on a friend. We feel like we're supposed to save everyone, support everyone - that we are somehow not being a good friend if we don't take the abuse, take the disrespect, take the behavior.
But it's not true.
And again - my faith comes into play.
I think it comes down to Proverbs 27:17.
To me, friendship is about more than just having someone to turn to when I need help or being the one someone can turn to when they need help. It's about more than having someone I can laugh with, eat with, drink with, explore with. It's about more than having things in common like faith or marriage or kids.
I expect my friends to make me a better person. And my hope is that I make my friends better people. And when those true colors come out and I see that this is not a friendship that helps me be a better person... I know that this isn't a relationship that I should be putting effort and energy into.
I have friends who help me be a better parent, help me be a better wife, help me be a better follower of Christ, help me be a better me.
Those are the friendships that I focus on, work on, tend to and encourage. Those are the friendships that have true colors that are what I seek. When we face a difficulty between us and we talk it through instead of running and talking to others. When they set me back on the right path instead of encouraging me with negativity toward my spouse or workplace or other friends.
And not to be overly cheesy - but Cyndi Lauper's hit applies here, too.
"I see your true colors
I see your true colors
And that's why I love you."
I see your true colors - I am blessed to have wonderful friends and I have seen their true colors in the course of wonderful times and regular times and difficult times. And it's why I love them.