by Andrew Cromwell
So much in life is outside of our control. We are reminded of this constantly. No matter how much we try to fool ourselves into believing we can manage, fix, patch around, or prevent the bad parts of life, we just can’t.
People get sick unexpectedly. Financial markets turn upside without warning. Cars crash and bridges fail. And festivals, like the one in Gilroy just the other day, become funerals.
When life is good, everything is easy. Things fall into place without much effort — relationships are sweet, there’s enough money to go around, and the kids put a smile on your face. But when things go wrong, suddenly what was easy becomes difficult.
It is in these moments—when your child gets sick, when your spouse tells you they’re not sure anymore, when you lose your job—that you need true friends. True friends are friends when things are good and when things are bad. Proverbs says, “a true friend is born for adversity.” In other words, when things get ugly, the people that stick around to encourage you are the ones that are your real friends.
And we all need real friends. We need real relationships. Not just casual friendships or acquaintances. We can know the name of 100 people but not be friends with any. Real friends know who we really are and love us anyway. They stick around when we have a bad day and get grumpy and they tell us the truth when we need to hear it.
Real friends also don’t happen by accident. Developing significant relationships requires time, energy, and effort. It is a two-way street that requires us to do our part too.
As a pastor, I hear a story repeated far too often. The story has many variations but the formula is always the same: ‘life was good and I got lazy and stopped doing the important things then life got bad and I don’t know where to turn.’
What I find most revealing about these stories is that rarely do people not know what to do. Nine times out of ten, they know exactly what to do. But they stopped doing it and now they wish they could turn the clock back.
And most often these regrets have to do with relationships. They stopped investing in their marriage. They stopped regularly meeting with good, healthy friends. They stopped building their relationship with God.
Relationships matter. They are hard, but they are so worth it.
What are you doing to maintain the critical relationships in your life?
As a pastor, I have seen how churches can be a place where deep relationships can happen. But only if people make the effort and stick with it.