July 1999
Written by: Judy E. Denby
I have many wonderful friends, both Christians and nonĖChristians, who truly enrich my life. They are there through thick and thin, loving me in spite of myself sometimes, and I know I can depend on them to encourage and support me. I also have other ďfriendsĒ, relationships that arenít such a joy. Iíve read one author who describes them as ďhigh maintenanceĒ. It just isnít easy to be a friend to these people; Iím sure you know the type. They insist on having things their way always, and try to test and manipulate me. They seem to have their own definitions of friendship, of which I am never informed until Iíve done something which doesnít comply with their rules. Sometimes, in frustration, I end up asking God why He wants me in relationships where I seem to lose so much. All this giving of myself starts to take its toll. I would expect that youíve been at this point, too (or maybe youíve pushed people to this point?). Sometimes I just need to be reminded of what God expects, and does, for me.
I truly believe that God puts people in our lives for a reason. I can personally testify to the fact that God has used me to do good for these high maintenance friends, just as He has used them to bring good to me. It isnít always a sacrifice on my part, either, as Iíve had some really joyous times with the more difficult people in my life. I have shared some very emotional, life-changing experiences with them. One day I drove a 29 year old friend to her fatherís house, then sat in the car and prayed as she, on the advice of a Christian counselor, confronted him about the horrible abuse she suffered at his hands as a child. I prayed fervently for about 10 minutes, and then experienced a wonderful sense of peace. Later, when my friend returned to the car, I learned that at the time of my peace, her father was admitting his fault and begging his daughterís forgiveness. What an incredible experience  - for both of us, and it brought a new depth to our friendship. Unfortunately, this same person became very possessive, then would become very cold and distant when I spent time with any other friends, and especially when I dated anyone, accusing me of trying to replace her somehow. Once I got married, she practically stopped talking to me. I try to stay friendly with her, but obviously I lack the free time I had before I met Peter, and she sees that as a rejection of her. She also tells me that no matter how badly I treat her, she will always be my friend ó but we both know that this particular statement is designed to make me feel guilty, and we both know Iím not. 
I find it interesting that the most trying relationships in my life are almost exclusively with people who come from dysfunctional families, where abuse was prevalent. I firmly believe that each of us has a choice as to how we live, and claiming that present actions were dictated by the past doesnít impress me very much. Yet as I have come to know about the pain that each of these persons has experienced, I can see the direct relationship between the tortures of the past and the difficulties in their present friendships. Sometimes I wonder that if I donít care about them, who (besides God) will? It seems they just need a friend, no matter how hard they try to push me away, and I believe thatís what God expects of me (Romans 12:20) to love them and to let them know that the One who loves me and enables me to love, also loves them too. What opportunities present themselves in these wounded hearts!
When I deal with difficult friends, I gain two things no matter what the situation: one, an understanding of how much I put God through when Iím being the difficult one and He, as always, is the loving Father and Friend; and two, a knowledge of how much I have been blessed, by having a husband, family, and friends who may not be perfect but are always there for me. Greatest amongst my blessings, I have a God who renews my strength day by day, and who gives me the opportunity to be someone special to someone in need.
Thereís someone out there who needs you, too.