A true soul relationship involves intimacy. Obviously, we don’t have that with every friend. How do we choose which friends to open up to?
Jesus said this to his disciples: “Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you,” (John 15:13-15).
Loyalty on the disciples’ part resulted in trust on Jesus’s part.
Isn’t that true for us? Those whom we trust to love us no matter what are those to whom we reveal our true selves. When we risk sharing intimately and are immediately jumped on, criticized, or dismissed, we quit telling that person anything important. If a friend gossips about our secrets, we no longer share them with her.
I have been betrayed by friends, and I suspect that you have. We are called to forgive, but forgiveness doesn’t mean that trust is restored so intimacy is usually lost.
To be a trustworthy friend I must listen with grace and love. There is a time to speak truth in love, but God has to guide me as to when to do that, if at all. I don’t want to appear dismissive or critical when someone tells me her heart, feelings, or fears. If God is gracious and loving when approach him, I need to be the same way with those who open their hearts and lives to me. I must allow the Spirit of God to use me to show his love.
As I look back on my marriage, too often I responded to my husband with words that seemed critical rather than loving, and I regret it. My attitude didn’t help us develop the intimacy that we both want. Better responses have been an area of growth, and with God’s help I won’t fall back into my old habits.
To develop soul friendships we must watch our reactions and our words when we hear someone bear her heart. We are there to be God’s agents to give out grace and love. On the other end we must risk trusting those who show elements of loyalty and share more of our true selves.
God is there to hear our deepest longings and struggles, and we should always give them to him first. But we also need other soul friends who walk with God sharing our sorrows, joys, and mistakes, and yet encouraging and challenging us along the way.
What causes you to distrust a friend? How do their responses fit in with loyalty and trust? How do yours?