Friends love through all kinds of weather, and families stick together in all kinds of trouble.
–Proverbs 17:17, The Message
As I sit looking out my window in the middle of a grey, cold, Hungarian winter day, weather is on my mind. And I’m thinking about how we often compare friendship to the types of weather. Fair-weather friends. Foul-weather friends.
We know about fair-weather friends. They are only in our lives when things are sunshine-y and easy-breezy. But when the cold wind of a life-storm blows in, they catch the tail end of the warm current and just disappear. Poof. We can feel abandoned, hurt, dismayed, betrayed. And we can second guess ourselves as we try to navigate the storm alone.
Foul-weather friends are a different bunch. They come in two varieties. First are the ones who are only our friends when they are having a hard time. They might text in the middle of the night, “I’m in crisis. My life is falling apart. I need you. Can you meet me tomorrow, first thing?” So we drop everything to make ourselves available to them, to listen to their pain, to help where we can. Because we genuinely care and want to be there for them. But, when their life is going well, we’re somewhere down the list of people they want to hang out with, leaving us feeling jealous, sad. Maybe even used.
The second kind of foul-weather friend is the kind who are only our friends when we are having a hard time. They find out that we’re struggling and then, all of a sudden, there they are. Calling, texting, providing a meal. Being a wonderful support. But, like the first kind of foul-weather friend, once we’re doing better, well, they’re off to care for some other person in need. They are the heroic storm-chasers. Again, we might feel resentful or hurt when they leave. But maybe also a little relieved.
I recently read an advertisement for an all-weather jacket and one word stuck out: reliable. Good in all seasons. A coat the wearer could count on to do it’s job no matter the weather. An all-weather friend, then, is one who is reliable. They don’t pull disappearing acts when stuff gets hard or when they (or we) are no longer needed. They stand with us in the sunny, easy times of our lives. And in the brutal storm-ravaged days. They hold our arms up when we’re weary. Smile with us in the halcyon days of our lives. And they are still around in the mundane and routine days. They stay. And we can depend on them.
ACTION: I don’t really think any of us intend to just be fair- or foul-weather friends. But we all have stuff in our stories that drive us to pursue or withdraw at different times in friendships. Pay attention to your friendships today. Notice where you find yourself wanting to withdraw because it feels too hard. Or pursue because that feels “heroic.” Bring those feelings and thoughts to God. How might He want to strengthen your reliability in your friendships? And deepen your friendship with Him?