How do you know if someone’s truly your friend? Having teenage daughters and, well, just being alive, causes this question to arise frequently.
Desiring to be wise about who I take into my confidence requires that I am discerning when it comes to my close circle of friends –
So, if I really want to know about someone, I should look at who they count as their close friends – who do they spend the most time with, listen to, confide in…this is a good gauge of their true attitudes, interests, passions, etc.
There have been times in my life when I’ve ignored the warning signs of an unhealthy relationship, always to my detriment. Things like:
*My friend talks critically about EVERYONE to me, but I “assume” he/she will NEVER talk about me to everyone else.
*Many of my friend’s friends talk trash about me, but I’m SURE he/she defends me…after all, he/she knows me and would always give me the benefit of the doubt.
*My friend seems only concerned about his/her comfort and reputation with no regard for mine, but I’m sure they would be loyal if the “chips were really down”.
*My friend seems very concerned about what others think about him/her, but I’m sure if they HAD to make a choice they would choose what’s right over what’s popular!
*My friend has known me longer/better than those who gossip about me, so I’m sure he/she would not believe gossip without talking to me.
The list could go on, but every time I ignore the “signs” and rely upon assumptions, I allow myself to stay in a toxic friendship – which eventually leads to desiring the approval of someone who doesn’t edify me in my “walk”. This can become a distraction which leads to discouragement and eventually to disobedience. God desires for me to be wise and not live in denial. Boundaries are very difficult to put in place, but absolutely necessary for healthy relationships.
So, how can we know if someone’s a “true friend”? Well, the first place to start is to look at your friend’s circle of friends – if you have to put your guard up and bite your tongue every time you’re in the presence of this “circle”, it’s probably not a healthy place for you to be. And, although we are called to treat everyone with the love and grace of God, we have to “lay aside every hindrance” in the race of life – and toxic relationships have to be at the top of the list.
I’m reminded of one of my favorite bits of wisdom from Maya Angelou: “When somone shows you who they are, BELIEVE THEM!”
Be empowered by the fact that friendship is a choice, and sometimes it’s best to “choose to lose” – in fact, close friendships are rare and should be chosen carefully and refined. If a friend is not loyal and true during the good times, he/she will more than likely abandon you in the times when you need them the most. We can save that job for those who aren’t so close…it hurts a lot less.
Knowing who your true friends are is a gift, wondering is torture – life is too short to wonder. Refine your list and find the freedom in knowing who you can turn to – it saves a lot of heartache and lets you “run” with the freedom God intended!
And remember there is “a friend who sticks closer than a brother”…and even if He’s the only one who makes the list, you’ll be fine.