Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?” ESV John 21:15
From when I was thirteen until I was twenty-eight, I moved every three years. During these formative years of my life, I found myself re-creating my life every few years, and this pattern formed some bad habits. One of the unhealthy things I learned was that I could reset my relationships when they became challenging. Now that I have lived in the same place for nearly ten years, I have learned all relationships go through tough seasons. It’s easy to just leave challenging relationships and make new ones. However, this is never healthy, and Jesus calls us to do the hard work of building strong and deep friendships.
Consider Jesus. He loved His disciples and mentored them closely for three years. Throughout that time, His closest supporter and most vocal ally was Peter, also known as Simon. However, three years in, at Jesus’ time of greatest need, Simon completely denied even knowing Jesus, much less being with Him. This rift in the relationship would have been easy for Jesus to ignore. After all, when God raised Him from the dead, He could have used His popularity to find new friends. He could easily have moved on. But He didn’t. Instead, He spent time specifically healing the rift Peter had opened between them. John 21 records Jesus’ effort. From Jesus’ actions we learn the incredible importance of pushing through painful experiences into deeper and more meaningful relationships. Because Jesus chose to restore the relationship with Peter, Peter goes on to be an incredibly vocal supporter of Jesus boldly proclaiming the gospel and leading thousands to Jesus.
May I encourage you to do the hard work of maintaining relationships? Don’t walk away just because someone has hurt you. Remember the gospel. Christ died to restore whatever damage has been done in your relationship. You must be able to forgive as Christ forgave you. Challenging, yes; but Christ gave us an example by Himself forgiving Peter. Working through hurtful experiences with our friends ultimately strengthens our relationships and enables us and our friends to thrive. God places us with others to shape one another, and part of this shaping is through the hard times. Don’t give up on your friends. Ask God for the strength to push through. Reap the benefits of deep friendship.