God created us for fellowship, first with Him and then with others. Friendship is a gift from God, and toward the end of His ministry, Jesus even referred to His disciples as His friends. I’ve been blessed by several dear friendships over my life, but I’ve also experienced the dismay from toxic relationships. What a difference a grace-filled friend can make in our life. This week I have the pleasure of introducing my friend, Mary DeMuth to you. Mary has written a book about Seven Deadly Friendships, which I have had the privilege of reading and endorsing prior to its release. Not only do I believe her book will bless you, but I believe this post will as well, as Mary shares 10 Traits of Grace-Based Friends. I’d love to hear about some of your experiences in the comments below.
There’s a Book Giveaway so be sure to read to the end!
10 Traits of Grace-Based Friends
by Mary DeMuth
I sat up in bed, thinking over the breadth of my friendships. Because I’ve moved around a lot, I’ve had a few friends in different locations. Some of those friendships have remained, and as it often goes in this mobile life, some of those friendships have died away. I’ve seen just how important a grace-oriented friend can be.
In retrospect, I’ve come to see that some of those friendships were not based on grace. A small minority were toxic, where I realized later I was either trying too hard and not measuring up, or I constantly felt less than. I don’t mean to condemn those friends, because, if I’m honest, I have to realistically view myself. Sometimes I wasn’t a good friend. Sometimes I was the toxic one.
As I get older, I want to invest in the kinds of friendships that build me up, where friends have permission to help me see myself (and my faults), but do so in an encouraging, life-giving way. I simply don’t have space right now for gracelessness.
In light of this, here are ten traits of grace-based friends. Maybe this will become a benchmark for you, a way to analyze the kindness of your current friendships. Maybe God is asking you to bravely move away from a toxic friend (I’m releasing a book about that! ), or maybe God is asking you to give your friends more grace. Either way, I pray this list blesses you.
One. They give you space.
Good friends full of grace understand that sometimes you need to be alone, to find yourself, to seek God. They don’t see this as an affront or rejection. Instead they step back and pray with you from afar, asking God to reveal Himself to you. They don’t chastise you for needing alone time.
Two. They have your back.
Grace-filled friends will defend you to others. They jump in when you need help, but without shaming or shunning or making you feel small. They don’t despise your needs, nor do they expose your deep vulnerabilities to others. They speak well of you in public.
Three. They believe the best.
Love, as we know from 1 Corinthians 13, believes all things. Love assumes positive intent. A grace-based friend doesn’t jump to catastrophic conclusions. They ask questions, sure, but they choose to believe your intent is positive.
Four. A grace-filled friend lets you be you.
They are not intimidated by you and your way of doing things. They are not jealous of your space in the world. They rejoice in how creative or weird or quirky you are. They don’t try to force you into a friendship mold, but they let your friendship be wholly unique. (And think about this: when two friends are together, they create an entirely new, creative entity!). A grace-based friend applauds when you succeed–without snippy comments or outright jealousy.
Five. They aren’t afraid to lovingly confront.
Just because a friend is grace-based doesn’t mean they never confront. A good friend wants you to be your best. She wants you to succeed in life and love. If you’re walking down a destructive path, she loves you enough to bring gentle correction, not in an “I told you so” manner, but with deep humility, first looking at her own waywardness. In this way, she is a companion traveling along a road with you. When you deviate from the path, she reaches out and grabs your hand to steady you back on the road.
Six. They refuse to gossip about you.
These friends don’t gossip about other friends in your presence, which gives you deep reassurance that they don’t gossip about you behind your back.
Seven. A gracious friend doesn’t demand allegiance.
A grace-based friend understands that you have certain allegiances–first to Jesus, then to your family. Although she cherishes her friendship with you, she doesn’t demand time, gifts, attention. She accepts what happens in the friendship, and often seeks to bless the other.
Eight. A good friend welcomes growth.
Some friendships only exist in a vacuum of zero growth. When one friend moves on or grows and the other can’t handle it, the friendship crumbles. Longstanding, grace-based friendships weather change and they welcome personal growth.
Nine. They are not your clone.
Friends are different. They can’t be twins. They’re amazing because two different people have chosen to be friends. This diversity brings great joy to a grace-based friend. A liberal and a conservative can be friends. A chef and a junk food junkie can be friends. An extrovert and introvert can be friends. In fact, it makes for more excitement when you’re different.
Ten. They don’t shame.
When I think back to one of my friendships that ended, the one word the shuffles through my head is shame. Like when I was around this friend, I felt small, not enough, broken, and messy. While I absolutely recognize that I am all of these things, there’s something painful about being in a relationship that constantly reminds you of your faults. If you feel you’ll never measure up, if you leave an interaction with a burning face and that awful feeling in your gut, if you keep trying to make the other person approve of or like you (to no avail), it may be time to say goodbye. A healthy friendship cannot exist in an atmosphere of shame.
What about you? Who is your grace-based friend? And when have you had to say goodbye to a shaming friend?
About the book, The Seven Deadly Friendships: How to Heal When Painful Relationships Eat Away at Your Joy
There’s something wrong with your friendship, but you can’t figure out why. Is everything in your head? Unfortunately, toxic friendships happen to everyone, but we seldom identify the underlying issues while we battle confusion or the friendship breaks up. Maybe you’re left bewildered in the friendship’s wake, paralyzed to move forward. After wading through several difficult friendships, Mary DeMuth reveals the seven different types of toxic relationships and empowers you to identify the messiest relationships causing you the greatest anguish. Discover a pathway toward healing through a powerful seven-step process.
About the Author
Mary DeMuth is a writer, speaker, podcaster and amateur artist who loves to help people live restoried lives. Author of more than 35 books, including her latest: The Seven Deadly Friendships: How to Heal When Painful Relationships Eat Away at Your Joy. She is the wife of Patrick and the mom of three adult children. She wrote The Seven Deadly Friendships because she believes there has to be a better way to deal with difficult relationships, a way that honors Jesus yet protects our souls from harm.
Find out if you are currently in one of the 7 toxic friendships by taking this quiz: The Deadly Friendship Quiz
Friendship is a gift from God. Grace-based friends are the kind that build you up. They let you see your faults in an encouraging, life-giving way. After reading through the ten traits above, have you analyzed the kindness level of your current friendships? Leave a comment below sharing with us one trait that you love about one of your grace-based friends and you will be entered into a drawing to win one copy of Mary’s book, “The Seven Deadly Friendships: How to Heal When Painful Relationships Eat Away at Your Joy.” You could also share this blog post on Facebook or Twitter then comment here to tell us where you shared it and you’ll also be entered into the drawing. The winner will be selected at random and announced next Monday, October 8, 2018, here on this post. Continental United States only.