I was sitting in a coffee shop enjoying the humor of my best guy friend. We were about to get on separate planes and lose each other’s delightful company for the next several months. Our laughter started to dissipate. Suddenly, I felt the temperature of our conversation change. He cleared his throat. I started to get nervous, having seen this scenario play out in previous friendships. I started to chew my wooden coffee stirrer into miniscule pieces. Subconsciously, I must have been chewing this stick into the shape of a weapon, ready to stab him for taking our quality friendship there. As he carried on, my mind was racing. Where was he going with his tirade of madness? I felt like I was in Spanish class and only catching every fifth word that was spoken. He mentioned something of appreciation for my friendship, personality, and relationship with God. I knew I needed to be patient and give him time to finish his thoughts. I also needed to gather my own before blurting out my defense which was coming to my mind in clumps at this point. I began to pray as he summed up his rabbit-hole, ‘round-the-bush escapade. He didn’t quite hit the mark he was going for by the time he finished. Truth be told, I had feelings for him that may have been deeper than friendship as well. I was terrified of messing up something so sublime by coughing up a crush-confession. Throughout the rant, I wondered if it was an ideal time to share. I sensed God say, “Now is not the time. Just wait.” When God and I have these conversations, I gain such a renewed boldness and patience in any situation. I chose to stay quiet. Apparently, he realized things weren’t clear to him either. He shrugged it off and said we would talk when he could think clearly. I teased him about his delivery and how we hadn’t established anything through that conversation, but deep down I was sighing with relief that he didn’t know how to address the relationship and I knew I wasn’t ready to face the music. As we parted ways, the greatest of friends, I felt very bonded to this man. I enjoyed his friendship immensely, but I knew something was changing for us. A few weeks after, I received the ill-fated email of affection and interest. By this point, I was more certain the answer was a negative for a deeper relationship. I sent a loving, but straight-forward response. We were just meant to be friends. Our lives began to drift apart. It was at this point I wondered, how close am I allowed to get in a friendship with guys? It seems to always end badly for one or the other party. Even if it is just a friendship, someone lets their guard down and opens up to emotions that go beyond friendship. I won’t put a black & white on this rule, but deeply personal friendships should probably be reserved for the same gender and one day, the spouse God brings into our lives. Profound friendships with guys, though fulfilling and appealing, can be dangerous. If not for us, then the guy-friend involved. One of the concepts of real love is when we allow the slow sacrifice of selfless love take precedence over the quick fix of emotional release or intimacy-building, opposite-gender friendships. Building close bonds can be unhealthy and distracting.
This begs the question; in the world of singlehood, how are those intimate friendships unhealthy? Even though we do not give our bodies to our guy friends, we still exchange pieces of our hearts with them. As deep friendships drift apart, I feel remorse for losing something so dear to me. I have a permanent reminder filed away in my brain for a rainy, lonely, dark moment when I am potentially at a weak spot in my faith. The reminder can twist the truth and tempt me to think I’m not good at relationships. I break hearts or get too close. “Dear children, keep away from anything that might take God’s place in your hearts” (1 John 5:21). If anything pulls my attention away from God, why would I want to nurture it? I cannot leave any of the doors or windows of my heart open for Satan to sneak in and cause mayhem.
God writes our love stories. We can listen intently as He reads each chapter to us, or we can rush ahead, rip the book from His hands and try to decipher the coded script. This will only bring chaos and unnecessary pain. When I understand this about God, nothing takes too long. I gain a deep sense of peace that allows my heart to be comforted even when I feel I am being misunderstood by the world. There’s a deep sense that God will defend my honor, He will bring all things to light. When I walk in this peace, I am more sensible about relationships and conversations. I know that I need to be still at times and speak up at others. I know I need to comfort and encourage one minute, and possibly confront and admonish the next. We do all things in love when we walk in this peace, a sweet surrender of our lives to God.