I met a friend for lunch last year. It wasn’t the most pleasant of lunches. Midway through our time together, the conversation shifted, and my friend delved into some difficult areas of my life. He challenged me. He said things I wasn’t ready to hear.
I admit that I was a little rattled. Upon reflection, I realized two things:
First, I am loved. Not everyone has friends who are willing to go beyond pleasantries and to speak truth. One of my friends talks about how unloving it is not to confront when confrontation is needed. This past week, I’ve found myself thinking about that difficult lunch, and realizing how much love it took for my friend to speak to me like that.
Second, my friend is courageous. He modeled for me what true friendship is like. It takes courage to be a good friend, because friendship means going beyond niceness. It means entering into the difficult and costly places of each other’s lives.
Don’t get me wrong: I’m not in favor of endless confrontation. I am in favor, though, of friends who are willing to pay the price of saying and doing difficult things when needed. The lunch with my friend was one of the most difficult conversations I had last year, and as I reflect on it, it was one of the most loving. The wounds of a friend are indeed better than the kisses of an enemy (Proverbs 27:6).