Over the years I have made a lot of mistakes in relationships with friends and extended family alike. I can’t imagine listing all of them! I have been foolish. I have let relational wedges form. I have been impatient. I have been selfish in countless ways. And I have been judgmental. As I look back, I realize I allowed external conditions determine the course that a friendship took. When a relational firestorm occurred, the heat drove me away.
When a friendship begins to form, conditionality is an unlikely topic of discussion. Neither party in the relationship is likely to say: “You are not going to abandon me, if things get heated, are you?” But… they are thinking it. Most people are hesitant to be vulnerable for that very reason. They are protecting their heart. They have no interest in being shunned or abandoned. Their secrets remain sealed in a dark corner of their heart. They are cautious about what to divulge regarding their past. And they may even wonder if their friend would stand beside them, if a true relational fire flared up.
When a person feels the heat of failure, their friends that love them step in quickly. They are eager to be a healing presence. In some cases, they even douse the flames. Patience and humility carry the day. Forgiveness purifies the smoke filled air. Real friends run into the firestorm created by failure; others escape the heat. It’s a reality of life.
If you have friends that are flawed humans, then count on the firestorm coming. Your friends are going fail. They are going to make grievous mistakes. There will be times that they will set self-inflicted fires that harm their life and yours too. The conditions are not favorable for the friendship to continue. The heat can feel overwhelming.
Today, I realize that love cannot be conditional. And that includes not running away when conditions are not favorable. It means facing the overwhelming heat. And I know that the possibility of being burned in the relational firestorm is quite high. There are risks to be taken. But in the final analysis, unconditional love heals. When the firestorm is over, the friendship remains intact. And those two people will never be the same. They will never view the other person in the same light. The friendship is refined by fire, when unconditional love prevails. I am so thankful for my friends that have not hesitated feel the heat with me. What are the conditions looking like in your important friendships today?