They say you know a true friend during times of need. I’d like to say that is true. Absolutely. When I’m in need, I’d like to know my friends are going to be there for me, however that looks. Unfortunately, if you’ve ever experienced life like I have, there have been plenty of occasions where that doesn’t quite pan out.

Just recently I had a friend get super sick. It also happened to be during an extremely busy season of work for me, where I had a huge deadline to meet and was working like a mad woman to accomplish my goals. My sick friend ended up needing surgery. I texted both the friend and their spouse on surgery day, while also receiving numerous updates from the spouse during surgery and recovery time. However, hours went by before I responded to one of the post-surgery updates as I was immersed in my work project and away from my phone. They probably thought I was a terrible friend, when I was really doing my best to show them I cared while also trying to make sure I didn’t fall behind in what I had going on.

It’s easy to judge when we don’t know the whole story. If there’s anything I’ve learned in the past few years, it’s to always err on the side of grace. Pastor Dad taught me that, and I’m still working on living it out in a consistent manner. I’ve also learned how important it is to learn people’s stories. We are so quick to judge. Why don’t they do this? Why didn’t they do that? Why do they do what they do? Why aren’t they coming? What is their problem? Why haven’t they responded? On and on we can go with our assumptions, when in reality, we have no idea what people’s stories are. We often have no clue what others are going through; what stress or burdens they are carrying.

I faced that truth recently. I had a need where some friends I hoped would have helped out, did not. They were plain and simply not there when I needed them. I can’t tell you why. I have no idea why! What I do know is that I had to guard my heart. It would have been easy to jump to crazy conclusions and cast judgements. I saw myself start leaning in that direction and had to stop myself. I knew it would only lead to offense and bitterness.

Aside from judgement, it’s easy to carry the “woe is me; I’m there for others but nobody is there for me…” sort of attitude. I’ll be honest, I entertained those thoughts for a moment or two. Thankfully I snapped myself out of that funk real quick. Wallowing in that attitude only drags us into depression, while also leaving bitterness, pride and offense in it’s wake.

Here’s where I personally have to guard my heart: my expectations of a friend “being there” for me may not be what their definition or even capability is. Not to mention the fact that during my time of need, they may be in their own crisis. In fact, my definition of a friend shouldn’t be about tracking what they do for me! Otherwise, I’m just one shallow person!

I truly do my best to help people around me, especially my friends. But I’m human and know I can’t be there for everyone and everything. Which means I have to keep that in mind because the same goes for them! I’m not Superwoman; nor are they! The same grace I want extended to me needs to be reciprocated and extended to others.

On the other side of the equation, I’ve had a friend or two through the years (and one just recently) who I would never expect anything from, and yet they stepped up during my time of need. To be in a situation like that is a blessing and re-adjusts your perspective to say the least.

May God help us keep our hearts guarded from bitterness, offense and judgment, as it will only turn us into a friend we don’t want to be. Err on the side of grace; take the time to truly hear others stories and be the friend you want to have.

A friend loves at all times…Proverbs 17:17
Faithful are the wounds of a friend, but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful. Proverbs 27:6
Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. Galatians 6:2