The Kind of Friendship That Leads to Light

Something that I have learned over the last two decades is that life is full of  "seasons of friendship."

Even with only a short 36 years of life behind me, I have come full circle in really understanding and appreciating this concept.  When I first graduated college and worked in downtown Dallas, I made my first three post-college "work" friends.  I remember their strengths, their facial expressions, times I embarrassed my 23 year-old-self in front of their "way more mature" selves, and all of the words they each imparted on me as we spent 9-5 together each and every day.  I grew to love these women greatly and when we parted ways, I truly thought that we would keep the bond alive.

Of course, that didn't happen.  Then came the friends at my next job, then the next and next.  Insert life changes.  Old neighbors, new neighbors.  College friends and friends I've made since becoming a mom.  Inner rings and outer rings and the list goes on.

While all seasons have been wonderful, some friendships needed to pass and others are missed dearly.  Most of these people, still are my friends {thanks to social media allowing us to connect}, but our daily lives just don't collide.

I think it is the withering away of the inner circle that is the hardest "season change" of all.  Often times these friendships just fade away, while other times there is real heartbreak involved, and then there are those wonderful friendships who are able to fully survive on a few multi-hour long conversations every few months or so.  These are the friends whom you call your best friends because no matter what happens in your life, the bond you once had or currently have, just never can be fully broken.  Even if life has broken them for you, in your heart, you feel that that bond will always be there, even if it is a one way road.

How exactly do you define these friendships though?  How do you really know which friends are the forever kind?

Steve Aitchison defined it as this, 

"True friends are those rare people who come find you in the dark and lead you back to the light." 

I couldn't agree more.  As a friend, any kind really, it's easy to show up in the dark.  It's easy to see a friend break and rush in to stand beside them.  It's easy to say "you're walking the valley" alongside them.  It's simple to encourage and smile and nod, but it is hard to pick them up and carry them through the morning moments of dawn before the light fully radiates their lives again.

You see, we all end up in the dark at one time or another because we all fail.  We are all imperfect.  We are all fallen.  We mess up as moms, wives, friends, sisters, career women, and everything in between.  We make unwise decisions, we get involved in situations in which we don't intend or we do intend and they turn our drastically different than we expect.  Depression and anxiety lead many into dark, dark holes.  We accidentally hurt, we purposefully go too far.  Even the best of us.  It just happens and we not only need grace, but we also need friends who don't just come find us in the dark, but who do the work necessary to lead us back to the light. 

Let's pause for a minute and that soak in.  "The kind of friend that leads you back to the light," y'all.  That's the real deal.  That's genuine, even if it ultimately leads to failure of the friendship--the love is in the truth, not the failure.

Not everyone wants to be led to the light though.  Not everyone wants to break out of their sorrow or their grief {after due time is provided for said sorrow is given}.  Not everyone wants to be told they made a mistake or they need to grant grace or they need to forgive and at worst, told they need to get help.  The thing about it is, the most genuine of friends do what is difficult, not to harm, but to save their loved one.

If you feel convicted, maybe the Lord wants you to do more in a relationship to help your beloved friend.  Maybe He wants you to risk your friendship to get them the help they need or lead them away from their toxic relationship, even adulterous lifestyle, or complete complacency in the cycle of depression--darkness comes in so many different ways and so many people need truth to get to the light.  Possibly you've already made that risk, and now everyone who doesn't know the story is looking at you as if you walked out when really, you were pushed out.  Be still and hold firm.

Or maybe it's you.  It's you standing in the dark, lonely, searching for someone, anyone to grab your hand and speak truth into you because you know you cannot do this on your own.  Waiting for someone to love you enough to risk you.  You're done with smiles, and "how can I help you" or "what can I do's" and you're ready for help that expresses itself in action.

Possibly, you're reading this ready to run out on some friendships because they are there with you, but won't let you stay in the dark.  "But the dark is so comfortable, " you say.  Or maybe, even worse, you're too busy accusing them of not being friends when they are the only ones who were ever really there for you.  Don't run, mama, and don't push these people away.  Because those people, the ones who will not allow you to stand in the dark, they are the ones who love so much more deeply than you could ever know.   

I have been the one who was complacent in my darkness and needed to be led to light. I have been the one who took the risk to bring a friend to light {probably too many times and not always the right way} and I have been the friend who just walked away.

Every relationship is different from the other and I don't think we are always the one responsible for leading someone to light, but those who stick with me and walk me out of the dark?

Those are my people and they should be yours too.

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