The thing I appreciate most about the counselor-client relationship is the formality of it all. Both parties show up to each session with one goal in mind – to work on whatever issue needs to be dealt with to move on from unhealthiness to health. Such is not the case however among friends.
Friends share, vent and disclose information to one another (which is a wonderful thing), but friends may not necessarily do so with the intention of seeking a solution. Sometimes friends just need a listening ear, a non-judgmental heart and a warm embrace in their time of need. Sometimes friends need to play with fire and get burned. Sometimes friends just need you to get dirty with them when they are stuck in the muck.
I’m not sure if it’s the counselor part of me or the perfectionist side of me, but something in me wants to save people. To prevent them from getting hurt. To stop them from doing things they will regret. This desire comes in handy when I’m sitting in the therapist’s chair, but it produces a tangled, jumbled ball of frustration when I can only be a friend.
One thing I have learned over the years is that being a friend during the good times is easy and fun. Staying up late at night chatting about boys or going to the spa to get your nails done is great and a necessary aspect of friendship. But then there’s the “a friend loves at all times” (Proverbs 17:17) side that is way more complicated. Why? Because it involves speaking the truth in love and letting go of the wish to micro-manage someone’s choices. Loving a friend at all times means just that – loving them through the back-and-forth struggles, the shocking revelations and the emotional messiness. Love means sticking around as the conflict unfolds, the story reaches its climax and hoping beyond hope that it arrives at a good resolution.
I am learning to be that kind of a friend. The process is pushing me way out of my comfort zone and making me squirm and scream at times, but my friends are worth it. Moreover, I find myself being even more grateful to have God to look to as the ultimate example of a friend who never gives up on us, but loves us completely and unconditionally.
Here’s The Fray’s “How to Save a Life“, a song which reveals the earnest desire to help a friend.
How have you learned to be a friend who loves at all times?