Oh, sisters . . . We’re in for a treat today. Three and a half years ago, when I started this blog and thought NO ONE besides my immediate family would ever want to read it, a sweet woman who was knee-deep in the throes of motherhood right along with me left a comment on one of my posts. I have no idea how she stumbled upon my blog but early-on, she was my Elizabeth. She encouraged me to keep going—even if my mom and grandmother were the only ones reading because it’s really not about the readership, is it? I’m honored to share her words with you here today. Please welcome Mandy with lots of comment love? Don’t miss her bio at the end!
Proverbs 18:24 says “One who has unreliable friends soon comes to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.”
Have you been there? The one on the receiving end of “unreliable friends”? It really stings. It’s hurtful. And it’s really annoying.
I saw this pin on Pinterest:
I wonder…in those situations (and I have felt this way more than a time or two) would we really “do” for others the way we wish they would “do” for us? Or do we expect more of others than we are willing to give?
During a Beth Moore study last week, I was reading about Jonathan and David in 1 Samuel. The Bible says that David loved Jonathan so much that he “took off the robe he was wearing and gave it to David, along with his tunic, and even his sword, his bow and his belt” (18:4). Beth went on to explain that this was more than just loaning David his jacket. This was a very telling and potentially dangerous symbol on Jonathan’s part that signified Jonathan recognized David as the future king. That position and honor was rightfully Jonathan’s since Jonathan’s father was Saul, the king. This action on Jonathan’s part was so dangerous, in fact, that when Saul found out what Jonathan had done, he ordered David to be killed.
I don’t know about you, but I have never been offered a kingdom in exchange for friendship.
What Beth Moore went on to say really stuck with me. She pointed out how the Bible goes into great detail about what Jonathan did and that he did it because he loved David. It breathes not one word about what David did in return. Or even if he did anything in return.
And I thought “huh.” Profound, right?
I really sat back and thought about that for weeks. Weeks!
And then over those weeks, I thought about what kind of friend I am. Would I really go that extra mile? All the time or just when it suits me or fits in with my schedule? Have I ever really given my robe to someone else let alone my tunic, sword and belt? Aside from my husband, have I ever given all I have and laid myself bare before someone I love? Have I ever made such a personal and dramatic covenant with another?
Sometimes I catch the real me. I see how surface I am and how conditional my love can be for others. It’s not that I consciously decide to be conditional…it’s something that simmers below the surface and I see it come out when someone wrongs me or doesn’t do things the way I wish they would. Then I justify it by saying the other person was in the wrong. That way it’s “ok” if I withhold from them. And what I withhold is different in each scenario. Sometimes it’s approval, sometimes it’s kind words, sometimes it’s encouragement or praise and sometimes it’s forgiveness.
And I realize I am not a Jonathan kind of friend.
But I want to be.
I want to love others the way Christ loves us. Completely. Unconditionally. Holding nothing back– regardless of what I get in return.
Christ gave His robe, His tunic, His sword, His belt…and His life.
And I can’t even muster a smile sometimes.
My eyes have been opened. I want to be a Jonathan kind of friend. I want to be real and honest and completely invested in my relationships. I’m human, so I know I will fail—and miserably, at that—but when we strive to do God’s will and ask Him for His strength and resolve, He gives abundantly (James 1:5).
God has been leading me to look more closely at all of my relationships. With my friends, am I being true to them? Am I holding the things they tell me in confidence? Am I building them up with empty platitudes or am I speaking the truth to then in love? (2 Timothy 3:16) Am I filled with envy over their strengths or am I celebrating with them? Do I gossip about them and call it “venting”?
Am I a friend only in the good times or do I stick around for the long haul?
Are you a Jonathan kind of friend? Do you love unconditionally? Do you recognize the greatness in others and give at the expense of yourself?
If you recognize yourself in any of the “unreliable friends” traits above, it’s not too late to ask God for forgiveness and for Him to change your heart to see and treat others the way He would have you see and treat them.
And it’s not too late to truly commit to doing for others the way we would have them do for us; in word, in deed, and in thought.
Would you close with me in prayer?
Dear Heavenly Father, so often I forget that true friendship and covenant is a decision and not a feeling or an emotion. I can commit to being a true and reliable friend, regardless of how I am treated. Please open my heart to be a Jonathan kind of friend. I want to be true and invested and committed and transparent in my relationships and build others up the way You build me up. Please allow me to see others through Your eyes. Please allow me to give of myself like Christ did…even in knowing it may not be reciprocated. I pray for Your peace and Your wisdom in discerning which friendships to pursue and which to cultivate. It’s in your Son’s name I pray, Amen.
Mandy Pagano is wife to Joe and mom to Rocco, Liam, Emmy, Max, Hadley and Jude–6 babies all 7yrs old and under. 3 years ago she set out to detail the craziness of having many children all close in age on her blog, Suburban Stereotype. As time passed, her blog transformed from humorous tales about the mundane in motherhood to the reality of wearing Christ on a daily basis as a wife and mom. While powdering bums and wearing shirts covered with spit-up, she aims to reach other women with humor and the Word of God. She’s flawed: She’s a chronic worrier, an imperfect perfectionist, and an avid over-thinker. She’s also forgiven. She sets out to reach other women with the love of Christ and live an intentional life that reflects Jesus. Aside from blogging, Mandy also works out of her home, volunteers at her church and recently joined forces with other ladies to launch a ministry called Deliberate Women at deliberatewomen.com.