If you told me five years ago that my friendship circle would be slashed by 85%, I would have told you, "no way." This is because I love people. Doing good and being surrounded by those who also want to do good makes me happy. Don’t get me wrong, I like to have a good time, but I’d rather have a good time DOING GOOD IN THE WORLD. It’s the way my father raised me. It’s what I watched him do. It’s what he preached to us time and time again.
The Bible teaches that if you train up a child in the way they should go, when they get old, they will not depart from it. The interesting thing about this biblical principle is, it works for everyone, not just Christians. My father did not know Jesus growing up, but he sure knew a lot of principles. As my husband and I begin to shape our family values and priorities, I realize in many ways; I married someone with the same value system as my father.
A [wo]man of too many friends comes to ruin...
- Proverbs 18:24
One of the values my father stressed to my siblings and me over and over again was our choice of friends. He would always say, “85% of the people you meet are actually robots, just following the crowd.” While this statistic was not grounded in any scientific research method, I can honestly say as I approach my late thirties, he was right. SO RIGHT. Somebody give this man an award right now. I always saw my father as judgemental growing up, but I now realize he was trying to teach us how to protect our light.
Choose Friends Who Help You Protect Your Light…
One of the stories that always jumps out to me in the book of Samuel is how Eli was basically canceled because he refused to check his sons when they were acting up at God’s altar. Yet, he is not the only one who got checked because someone in his circle did something wrong. In Genesis, we see Rachel almost got Jacob in trouble by stealing her father's idols and Joshua lost a battle because there was sin in the camp.
Sis, that circle matters. What people do in your circle, with or without your consent, matters. Their level of humility, matters. How they see authority, matters. The way they show honor to others, matters.
One thing I learned in my last spiritual battle is to not negotiate my friendships in three arenas:
Honor everyone. You cannot lose when you choose to show everyone honor—even those who don’t deserve it. If I find myself in a room full of griping, complaining, and dishonor, I am not only leaving the table, I am locking the door on my way out. This isn’t a new concept for me, I was this way pre-Jesus, yet somehow, I allowed the gospel of “don’t judge, love everybody” to cloud the part of the Bible that said bad company corrupted good manners.
In 2020, we all learned about people who were only halfway messin' with us. Sis, if they haven’t text you once to see how you are doing, if you have not heard their voice, if they can only mourn with you but can’t seem to find it in them to celebrate you, 2020 was the year of exposure. If people are still self-absorbed or petty in a pandemic, they will NEVA rise above it. Let them walk, sis. Let them walk themselves right out of your life like Kim Zolciak and her wig walked out of Nene’s life on that one episode of RHOA.
(This is bullying, but that's a post for another day).
3. Fearful People
LAWD! The last person you need in your corner is someone riddled with overthinking and fear. The church community is funny, you know. We know how to churchify all sorts of behavior. We call hateration “discernment," paranoia “watchfulness," and perfectionism “order.” I’ve had enough. All of these behaviors masking insecurities must be called exactly what they are, FEAR. Fear of not being liked, fear of what they will say, fear of losing control, fear of the enemy. Some people literally don’t make waves anywhere, standing for nothing without a crowd’s approval, which means they eventually fall for anything.
Now, it’s not to say we immediately discredit our friends when they show the traits above, but we need to ask ourselves how they respond when we call them on it. A friend who cannot take a rebuke (this really means to check them) is not a friend at all.
Your friends should be helping you avoid pitfalls that can ruin your life. Your friends should be fixing your crown and, heck, polishing that crown when it’s your time to shine. If they cannot check & CHEER you on, then they may fall into other categories of connections that might be useful (or not), but they are not friends. I’m also not tryna be like Eli, Joshua, or Jacob in these streets -- I need ALL my blessings::smiles::.
May the year 2021 roll in with friendships that lead to rest on EVERY SIDE.
Keep raising the bar, boo. It looks good on you!
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