Authored by Mara Hodler
When I was 11, I spent an extended time away from my family at a youth camp. It was a great summer with lots of activities, time with friends, swimming, sports, and Bible classes. I shared a cabin with three other girls, and since we were going to be there for a while, I wanted to “decorate” the place a bit.
I had this idea that we could decorate one wall of the cabin with treasures and trinkets that reminded us of home. When I told the girls about my idea, they all liked it. We spent one free afternoon putting up our pieces and talking about each item. Every night, when I was going to bed, I’d admire our wall. I thought it looked great!
A couple of weeks into the camp, I noticed that most of the items from our wall were missing. In fact, the only items still on display were my contributions. I was wondering where everything went, so I asked one of my cabin mates what was going on. “Oh, we all decided it was a lame idea, so we took our stuff down.”
In looking back, I kind of agree. It was a lame idea. But back then I was crushed! It wasn’t the fact that no one liked the idea. What hurt was that they had all gotten together and talked about it, but no one had let me in on the conversation.
Has anything like that ever happened to you? You wish your friends would tell you the truth instead of going behind your back. Even though I know my friends weren’t trying to be mean, the fact that they were willing to leave me in the dark seriously made me question the worth of our friendship in their eyes.
A friend that is willing to tell you hard truths is a very good friend. The Bible says that “faithful are the wounds of a friend.”1 That means that even if a friend tells you something that hurts you a little bit—like that your attitude is … maybe not so great, or that you’re doing something dangerous, or that people don’t agree with you—it’s because they care about you.
Those are the friends who aren’t going to leave you in the dark. They’re going to tell you what’s what, even if it’s hard for you to hear. They aren’t telling you to hurt you; they’re telling you to help you. Not every friend will be invested enough in your friendship to say something that could potentially irritate you. But if you have one of those friends, value them.
We all need a friend who will tell us if we have something stuck between our teeth, or if our breath stinks, or we need to find a better deodorant. We need someone to tell us if our actions have unwittingly hurt someone without us noticing.
Although I got a good dose that day of what it feels like to not have your friends tell you what’s what, I have to admit that I have done the same thing to my friends many times. Sometimes it’s much easier to not tell someone the truth. That way you don’t have to deal with anyone getting sensitive or upset at you, and you don’t have to be the “bad guy.”
Doctors would probably love that. Imagine doctors never having to tell their patient that they’re dying, or that their bad habits are damaging their health and quality of life. That would sure make a doctor’s life easier. But instead, because they care about their patients, they are in the position to tell them all kinds of bad news and hard truths. They have to spell out huge lifestyle changes that their patients need to make in order to beat their sicknesses. They have to get in there and work with each patient. Sometimes it’s exhausting, and even emotionally taxing, but they do it because it’s their job … and they care about their job.
If you want to be a good and faithful friend, you will sometimes be faced with the challenge of having to “wound” your friend. I still find this very difficult. Sometimes I manage to say it just the way I planned, it’s quick, and the happy ending comes fast. At other times, I blurt it out and things get worse before they get better.
I know that doesn’t sound very good, but it can go down kind of messy sometimes. After all, the Bible does talk about the wounds of a friend. The word “wound” implies that it could be a bit messy, that it could hurt.
Something important to first ask yourself is why you feel compelled to tell your friend anything. If it’s you being moody or having a bad day, maybe you need to hold it in. But if your motivation for telling your friend some hard truth is to protect them from being hurt or from hurting themselves or someone else, then you have the right motivation.
With the right motivation, you’re ready to “speak the truth in love.” If you’re nervous or uncomfortable, remind yourself of the reason that you’re saying anything at all. It’s because you care about your friend. It’s what you would want your friend to do for you.
In time, you will come to see which friends really have your back and which ones will be willing to work through the “ugly” with you. Those are the friends you need. In a good friendship, the “faithful wounds” will work both ways. You will both be able to rely on the other for the tough truths. When you find friends like that, be grateful. Take the sting, because the wound will heal, and you will be wiser and happier for a few good friends who value you enough to tell you the truth.
1 Proverbs 27:6 KJV
Read by Amber Larriva. Music by sindustry(CC). Copyright© 2015 by The Family International