My Dear Granddaughters and Grandsons,
Old age is creeping up on Grandpa, and my arm isn’t so strong as it used to be, but it’s always here for you to lean on.
I’ve known a thousand faces over 62 years, and I write this to remind you that friendship must be field-tested (proved trustworthy) before the “reserved” sign is taken down from your heart. Friendship can be the door to heartache if the wrong person comes in.
Each of you is gifted with a personal uniqueness that God expects you to guard. Be vigilant like an eagle staking out your territory–wise enough to survey the landscape from a high branch, out of danger, and cautious when launching into the gale of relationships.
Sadly, your grandmother and I have known people who used their position of authority to manipulate those seeking friends. Some were trusted as “Christian” mentors and appeared to be honorable. Their words were convincing and full of tenderness. They moved followers to action and made them feel a warm acceptance. They asked for and received respect. Their motives may not have been apparent even to them, but in time their intentions came to light. They needed to dominate others emotionally, and if possible, physically, to feel satisfaction.
Many predators have been victims of betrayal, and they hate themselves for their cravings. They live as chameleons, feeding upon the angst of others, and trying to ease the pain of their past wounds. They hunger for affection but are never satisfied. They lead “friends” to compromise and will make them feel ashamed if they refuse to follow them.
A predator whittles away at virtue a little at a time and is gifted in inspiring your dreams. This “mentor” will share secrets, and work to become your confidant. He or she really appears to listen. His or her eyes linger long upon yours, and they make you feel a bit more significant than others around you. And then, one day, you will find yourself alone with this person…
Make no mistake, Dear One: This is the moment when their motives scream at you. A line is being crossed, and God will call you back to that high limb, out of danger. You must make a choice–to enjoy this “friend’s” special attention, or FLY. Yes, they do need understanding and help, but not from you. You are prey–not a “friend.”
God will give you the courage to show your talons as you launch away. Be shocked. Be angry. Don’t be courteous or nice. Don’t treat them like they didn’t mean it. You did not “misunderstand.” They may seem apologetic. Surprised. They may act remorseful. But don’t let the kindness that you reserve for true friends drown out God’s warning to them by your indignation.
Over time we gather an odd assortment of fun, fragile, infuriating, dysfunctional, and fulfilling friendships. God often speaks to us through people we care about, and who care for us. We learn from their mistakes and successes and enjoy sharing our experiences to encourage one another.
But only a few should be invited through the door of our closely guarded hearts. These few are willing to persevere, forgive, and will prove trustworthy when we are vulnerable. True besties have given their lives to Christ, and place friends above themselves. These are our cherished ones, gifts of God from whom we learn to be faithful, as they are faithful to us.
Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. John 15:13
A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for a time of adversity. Proverbs 17:17
The righteous choose their friends carefully, but the way of the wicked leads them astray. Proverbs 12:26
One who has unreliable friends soon comes to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother. Proverbs 18:24
Whoever leads the upright along an evil path will fall into their own trap, but the blameless will receive a good inheritance. Proverb 28:10