Updated: May 5, 2021
By Becky Gonzalez
God's Brave Women - Becky's Story
It was my 30th birthday, and I was basking in the glow of my surprise party. Despite how difficult it is to surprise me (yep, I’m one of those people), my family and friends managed to pull it off.
At some point that evening, I distinctly remember thinking to myself, “I finally have the friends I’ve been looking for my whole life.” I even shared that out loud to a few friends I was sitting with at the time.
Friends that did life together, through the good and not-so-good times.
Friendships where the other person was in it with you no matter what.
Over the years leading up to that party, I’d experienced my fair share of relational heartache, specifically in the area of friendships. Having friends like the ones I had at that moment was a dream come true. Without even realizing it, I’d made friendship - and the friendships I had at my 30th birthday - the goal.
True friendship became a destination. A place I’d arrive to once I found the right friends, and once I’d learned how to be the right friend. I was devoted to the goal of friendship, some ideal that had turned into an unspoken expectation I carried into every relationship.
"True friendship became a destination. A place I’d arrive to once I found the right friends, and once I’d learned how to be the right friend. I was devoted to the goal of friendship, some ideal that had turned into an unspoken expectation I carried into every relationship."
In the decade following that surprise 30th birthday party, I experienced some pretty drastic shifting of most of those friendships and the place they held in my life. Some left my church, while others moved away to a new city or state. Communication and connection became less frequent. Friendship can grow cold and distant when there’s so much literal distance between you.
But other friendships did more than shift. Some stretched so much they snapped. When I asked a question about a comment made by a particular friend, that put an end to that friendship. Poof! Friendship gone after over a decade of closeness and sisterhood. All because I asked a question she didn’t care for.
Still, others finally showed the true colors of who they really were, tearing me apart in conversations with others when I wasn’t around.
Calls or texts left without response. Continued connection never initiated.
Just about anything that could go wrong in friendship during this season did.
Proverbs 27:6 says, “Faithful are the wounds of a friend.” (ESV)
Friendship has caused me my fair share of wounds over the years. The hurt that visited me in the decade after my 30th birthday added fresh injuries to an area that was already in so much pain.
Deception and rejection.
Miscommunications and misunderstandings.
I’ve interpreted the meaning of that Proverbs verse above in different ways. If there’s one thing we can be sure of, the wounds from a friend are constant. (I mean, if those wounds are happening more often than not, then it might be time to evaluate whether or not the person is actually a friend. But that’s a discussion for another post.)
My friends are far from perfect, and so am I. My friends are going to hurt me, I’m going to hurt them, and it’s going to happen often enough. So yeah, faithful are the wounds of a friend. Friendship means hurt feelings and misunderstandings are part of the package.
But the NIV version of the verse has helped me see it in yet another way: “Wounds from a friend can be trusted.”
When my friends hurt me, I can choose to trust it. I can choose to believe the best. I can choose to trust that their intention quite possibly was not to hurt me, remembering that true friends are on my side.
"When my friends hurt me, I can choose to trust it. I can choose to believe the best. I can choose to trust that their intention quite possibly was not to hurt me, remembering that true friends are on my side."
And if their intention was to hurt me, it doesn’t define me, and will not crush me. “We often suffer, but we are never crushed.” (2 Corinthians 4:8 CEV) Faithful friendship means that I can trust the wounds from friends, and view them in light of who God is, and his purposes in my life in and through any given friendship.
"Faithful friendship means that I can trust the wounds from friends, and view them in light of who God is, and his purposes in my life in and through any given friendship."
Because I’ve struggled in the area of friendships for most of my life, I really don’t feel qualified to talk about friendship on any level. Unless I get to talk about how hard, awkward, and scary it is.
Brave isn’t the word I’d use to describe myself in this area... until I remember what bravery means.
Bravery is courage with work boots on. The ability to do something when you’re scared. Standing strong in the face of pain or grief.
Choosing friendship on purpose in the midst of the hurt that often accompanies it requires bravery.
"Choosing friendship on purpose in the midst of the hurt that often accompanies it requires bravery."
It’s hard for people that haven’t gone through extensive friendship and relational hurt to understand the reactions from those of us who have. It’s really hard not to shape your outlook because of it. Dusting yourself off, and getting back up and back in the imperfect friendship game after being knocked down time and time again is an act of courage and sheer determination.
Will they reply to my text?
Are they going to show up to that get-together I planned?
Will my vulnerability be safe with them?
Are they going to be around when I need them most?
It takes courage to keep pursuing friendship when we know that hurt feelings and misunderstandings are part of the package.
And yet, Jesus said, “I have called you friends.” (John 15:15 NIV)
Jesus, the ultimate friend. He gave his life in love for me. Nobody suffered more for his friends than Jesus did.
"And yet, Jesus said, “I have called you friends.” (John 15:15 NIV) Jesus, the ultimate friend. He gave his life in love for me. Nobody suffered more for his friends than Jesus did."
My 50th birthday is just a few months away. I’m still one of those hard to surprise kind of people. I’m also still one of those struggles with friendship kind of people.
Friendship wounds still hurt. No surprise there.
Each new hurt provides me with a fresh opportunity to try again in the fight for faith, and the fight for friendship. A fresh opportunity for bravery.
My friendship with Jesus makes me brave enough to keep fighting for friendship, even when it hurts.
Brave Woman Manifesto
Make sure to check back next week as another courageous Sister shares her story!
And by the way...
You are Brave!
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Rebecca "Becky" Gonzalez is a hopeful encourager and freedom fighter. She loves to share glimpses of how she fights to love God and others...clumsily. Becky is a wife and mom to three, along with their rescue dog, Riley. Becky is a 1 on the Enneagram, which also makes her a recovering perfectionist and people-pleaser. She is a writer, speaker, and teacher who embraces the grit and grace to act justly, love mercy, and walk humbly, and encouraging others to do the same. Love leaves glimpses where you least expect it.