As much as I love and cherish your being with me in the good and in the bad, it is when you’ve walked mile after mile with me through the mud and the tears, lifted me up, held me close, and prayed with me in the ugliness that our friendship was cemented.
Seriously? The ugly? Yes, the ugly. For it is in the ugly that we must choose to embrace, accept, and love one another unconditionally. Is there anyone with whom you feel comfortable sharing the ugliness of your life? If there is, you have a true friend.
It is not easy sharing ugly, so we usually don’t, but we love to share the good! We have parties in order to share the good things in our lives with as many people as possible. We have no problem posting all of the good on social media; actually, that’s all some of us post.
Some of us do OK with sharing the bad. We have a couple of good friends that we can talk to when things don’t go the way we want or plan. We bemoan our failures, outbursts, illness, job loss, disagreements or misunderstandings with the boss, spouse, or relative, or other of life’s disappointments; and they listen. We know they will hold our hand, tell us we are not all bad, and remind us that every family has its crazy – we just happen to be ours.
But it is not easy sharing the ugly parts of life. Who really wants to hear about our sin, or someone else’s sin against us, our shame, pain, heartache, guilt, poor choices and the consequences of those choices. We have decided that those things are better left unsaid. Let’s just leave them buried where they will never see the light of day, and just concentrate on getting through the day.
I will confess, there have been times in my life when I didn’t trust anyone enough to share the ugly side(s) of myself, the dark, hidden hurts and failures. Those things were repulsive to me, and I assumed they would be to everyone else.
And, while it is a good thing to keep private things private, refrain from publicly airing one’s dirty laundry, and establish healthy emotional boundaries, it is not so good to keep all of the ugly bottled up inside. Trust me, when that volcano of molten muck erupts – and it will – it is not pretty.
I don’t think that God ever intended us to walk through life alone. There have always been people with whom I could share life, but it is always my choice whether, and how much, I want to share. To those friends who have seen, or heard, the ugly – and you know who you are – thank you for your true friendship!
Thank you for listening without judgment when I confessed my sins, and when we prayed together. It is healing to my soul to know that you stood by me in my imperfection. Thank you for praying over me, and with me, because I know the prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results (James 5:16)
Thank you for being a reliable friend no matter what. You stuck close to me and kept me from ruin (Proverbs 18:24). You held me accountable, you gently pointed out my sin, and you drew me back from wandering away (James 5:19-20).
Thank you for your wise advice when I was broken and it seemed every relationship around me was falling apart. You prayed for those who persecuted me, you wept with me, you gave me guidance on how to live in harmony with others and you called out my pride (Romans 12:14-16). You were also there to rejoice with me when the Lord brought reconciliation and peace.
Thank you for gently speaking truth to me when I didn’t want to hear it. It would have been much easier for you to remain silent. But you understood the truth that wounds from a sincere friend are better than many kisses from an enemy (Proverbs 27:6). You knew that the heartfelt counsel of a friend is as sweet as perfume and you never abandoned me (Proverbs 27:9-10.)
Thank you for reminding me that Jesus died to redeem me from the sin that enslaved me (1 Timothy 2:5-6). You insisted that when I pray to him, he answers me and frees me from all my fears. You pointed me to the One who not only can help me but who removes the shame that darkened my face (Psalm 34:4-7).
There is One who will always love us, who will never leave us nor forsake us, who will always be our friend and who loves us no matter how ugly we have been. God loved us when we were the most unlovable, the most ugly, and showed how much he loved us by sending his one and only Son into the world so that we might have eternal life through him. This is real love – not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sin. (1 John 4:9-10)
Not all of my friends know all of my ugly – but in every hard or dark moment, God graciously provided a precious soul who was willing to walk with me and listen as I poured out my heart, bared my soul, or confessed my sin. One of you was always there to help me bear a particular burden or make sense of a senseless injustice (Galatians 6:1-5). Each one of you has been, and is, a precious gift from God to me.
Just as we have true friends, we should also be a true friend. Are you the kind of friend with whom others can share the good, the bad, and especially the ugly? Do you love unconditionally? Do you listen with patience and kindness? Will you never give up on them? Are you a voice of hope, helping them to endure in all circumstances (1 Corinthians 13:4-7)?
Are you a true friend? Who should you thank today for being a true friend to you?
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