But Ruth replied, "don't urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God. Where you die I will die, and there I will be buried. May the Lord deal with me, be it ever so severely, if anything but death separates you and me." When Naomi realized that Ruth was determined to go with her, she stopped urging her.
Friendships are a catalyst for every other love and the foundation of every healthy relationship. Having a friend and a close one can be risky business, but it is worth the risk. WE have friends that are extremely close and others for only seasons. And there are some that become our soul -mates...our spouses.
There is a place for ALL of those within our lives because we all need friends. Jesus showed us as he built relationships with a few ..friends...rather than the crowds. And His teachings are filled with practical suggestions on how to be a friend and how to have a healthy relationship. The Book of Ruth gives us some pointers...
1. Time. You must invest time. This is hard for me. I would rather just be by myself. Most of my closer friends are my work buddies -- cause I work with them day after day. And you know what? When June comes, many times I hug them good -bye and then we don't speak again until August. We sort of get a break from each other. This always puzzles me and yet, gives me peace. Weird? And yet not. As with my work, I invest time and emotion and as with the students - the time off gives me perspective! I think it strengthens those bonds too. Many of my sweet friends all have family and vacations and so forth! But..in order to have friends, we must invest time. It takes time. We do live in a quick fix world and want stuff right away...a tried and true friendship just does not develop in the drive through line!
2. Risk. Friendships are risky. Every friendship must contain the element of risk if it is to grow. WE all change and mature and as we grow we must allow our friendships to grow and mature and reach its full potential. I have many friends that I don't 'hang' with anymore but when God places them in my path again, it seems like we just were together the week before. I LOVE it when God does that.
3. Transparency. Being transparent and real is important. Jesus was transparent. Being transparent is being authentic. Jesus was authentic. What you see is what He was. WE need to be like Him.
4. Touch. Physical touch is important. It is a love language that Jesus used. He just did not say, 'heal'..He touched the hurt and healed them. A hug is so important. A touch is so important. There is MUCH research about why physical touch is needed. Hug a friend. This especially goes with our husbands.... they are our friends too. Most likely their love language is physical touch -- it is important. I can just picture Ruth and Naomi giving each other hugs all over the book of Ruth!
5. Correction. Ruth confronted Naomi. Godly friendships have the element of correction. Correction brings authenticity and health to every relationship. Proverbs 27.6 says "faithful are the wounds of a friend". The wound is the correction or the confrontation for the good of a friend. Silence is agreement and just as dangerous as holding a friend's hand as she walks toward the deadly edge of a steep, deadly cliff. When a warning bell goes off in your mind, when you have a check in your spirit about any part of a friend's life ..you are called to confront in LOVE. Failure to do so may very well result in their destruction.
Key note -- in LOVE. There has to be authentic love, invested time and touch...to be able to speak correction in LOVE. And...sometimes you lose a friendship because of this. There are seasons of friendships - as long as you are seeking HIS will and speaking what the Holy Spirit has given you voice about.... then there is peace!
However, sometimes when there is truth revealed and confrontation happens -- the relationship becomes strained and sometimes that friendship ends. THAT is indeed a sad thing to experience and yet, we all have the ability to pray that the relationship is restored -- if that is God's will.
6. Forgiveness. Period. There must always be forgiveness. Often we make the mistake of thinking forgiveness depends upon feeling, rights, and justification ..... forgiveness is a deliberate choice, a chosen attitude and a discipline of the heart and will.
7. Freedom. There is freedom in friendships. There should not be possessing - love is not possessing. ( 1 Cor 13.4) Without freedom in a friendship - jealousy can settle in. True friends give each other freedom.
8. Loyalty. You must be a loyal friend. If you are on the listening end of a pal venting...it stays there - do not share. If you hear another person speaking about your friend...stand up in love and remind them that you won't receive 'ill' about your friends. If that person is speaking ill of your friend -- that is between your friend and that person. Be careful who you allow to speak into your life. Don't criticize your friends to others.
Cheer on their successes and encourage the strengths of your friends. never use a friend's weaknesses to your advantage. And then overlook cracks in the armor and tilted halos of friends -- show mercy.
And, 9. Action. Be active...make a dinner date, buy a card, send words or gifts, celebrate with them. DO something. Jesus stated that He was giving a new commandment - to love one another - just as much as we love Him....our friendships are a perfect way to share Christ with others - they are watching us!
There is a song on XM Christian radio -- "I am a friend of God ...He calls me friend"...Love it - find it and listen.
Lord, I pray we are good friends to each other and I thank you for my sisters in Christ. Lord, for the one this evening who loved too much, got involved too much, and for the one who is ready to quit the friendship, I pray she will seek Your advice and guidance and hold on a little longer. Lord for the friends that hurt us, when we are just trying our best to be that loyal and honest pal. Lord for the friends that are struggling right now cause of their marriage or wayward children, help us to be there for them to show grace and mercy but to also be like Aaron and HOLD up the arms of Moses.... Lord, I am unsure WHAT stated of mind the reader is in but I pray that as they read about friendships they truly feel a friend of You. Lord, as the women around me work each day and live in this world, may my friendship be a light to them. Lord, may I be one needed when you place me there -- may I not fail them with my actions or words. Lord, you have given us women the ability to multi-task and enjoy many godly friendships -- may those around us see You in me and in the friends they have around them. Lord, for the friendships that are strained right now -- for the one hurting cause she can't FIX the problem or problems of that friend -- but that she would believe that indeed YOU have her -- and will protect her. Lord, may everyone reading this be blessed by their friendships with those who Love you as well -- Let us all be better Christ like friends - IN Jesus name, Amen.