A heart-felt welcome to those of you who have clicked over from the Encouragement for Today devotion I have running at Proverbs 31 and on Crosswalk.com. If you haven’t yet read the devotion, catch up with the rest of us by clicking here.
“Frenemy” (alternately spelled “frienemy”) is a portmanteau of “friend” and “enemy” which can refer to either an enemy disguised as a friend or to a partner who is simultaneously a competitor. The term is used to describe personal, geopolitical, and commercial relationships both among individuals and groups or institutions. The word has appeared in print as early as 1953, but did not gain popularity until 2000.
Not so funny results.
It seems humans of the female kind have an innate, cruel way of hurting with their words; of causing pain by exclusion; of being two-faced; of ultimately ruining relationships.
Boys? Oh they may punch and push and hurt by body slam. (I know, I have boys ages 11 and 14 who are, as we speak, body slamming each other in the basement family room in an argument over a stupid Xbox 360 Major League Baseball game!!) But usually, they don’t concoct false stories designed to hurt and harm; they don’t leave others out in order to emotionally wound them and they rarely gossip. And not too many act like they consider someone one of their ‘home boys’, when in reality they can’t stand the sight of them.
Why is it that we females have a bent toward hurtful relationships? And why do we sometimes feign friendship when, in reality, we actually dislike someone? Why do we act as a frenemy?
Wouldn’t it be better to just steer clear of someone rather than to pretend to be their friend or acquaintance and then, turn on them?
The recent phenomena that is the Internet has taken this entire frenemy dilemma to a whole new and awful level. Rather than women gossiping over a picket fence or at the water cooler at work about someone they pretend to like in person, now they can take a jab at them on their blog or make a back-handed, cruel comment on their status. They can ‘tweet’ a hurtful statement that is instantly posted in Cyber-space for all the watching world to see.
Oh, but sometimes, it is cleverly disguised. You know……..in a ‘Christian sort of way’.
Shame on us.
Our words are potent.
They can sting.
They can spoil.
And, worst of all, they stick.
Even the cleverly cloaked comments we may make about a generic “someone”. We know that not everyone will know who we are talking about.
Just the “someone”.
We must learn to deal with our friendships and our words about others in a way that would make Jesus proud.
Even though Wikepedia, the online encyclopedia, claims the word frenemy wasn’t invented until recently, a quick read through the Psalms seems to hint that frenemies have been around for centuries:
“If an enemy were insulting me,
I could endure it;
if a foe were raising himself against me,
I could hide from him.
But it is you, a man like myself,
my companion, my close friend,
with whom I once enjoyed sweet fellowship
as we walked with the throng at the house of God.” Psalm 55:12-14
“Even my close friend, whom I trusted,
he who shared my bread,
has lifted up his heel against me.” Psalm 41:9
Hmmm….pretending to be a friend when in reality you are an enemy is as old as the hills.
Throwing insults at someone you once called a close companion is not new either.
While the Psalms may speak of frenemies, they also instruct us what to do if we ourselves have acted as one:
“…if you have been trapped by what you said,
ensnared by the words of your mouth,
then do this, my son, to free yourself,
since you have fallen into your neighbor’s hands:
Go and humble yourself;
press your plea with your neighbor!
Allow no sleep to your eyes,
no slumber to your eyelids.
Free yourself, like a gazelle from the hand of the hunter,
like a bird from the snare of the fowler.” Proverbs 6:2-5
Go to them.
Then, …….don’t do it again!
The same process we often tell our children to follow.
Now, in the future, let’s take further cues from the Psalms as to how our speech should be:
“Pleasant words are a honeycomb,
sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.” Proverbs 16:24
“Reckless words pierce like a sword,
but the tongue of the wise brings healing.” Proverbs 12:18
Now, what about those people in your life whom you truly feel you should avoid and not be friends with due to one legitimate reason or another? Is it ever wrong to not be friends with someone?
I have had to deal with this a few times in my life and in the life of my daughter. My answer is ‘yes’, sometimes it is okay to distance yourself from someone; to be polite, but choose not to be close friends with another woman.
And, if you find yourself the intended victim of a frenemy or have a strained, hurtful relationship with another (let’s say someone whom you are ‘friends’ with on Facebook, but they leave posts that are intended to make you feel left out or they just seem to ruffle your feathers when you read their status updates) then, by all means, use the ‘hide’ button. While it may be awkward to ‘unfriend’ them or whatever the proper term is, it certainly is okay to not have a steady stream of their life popping up in your newsfeed.
But, in the mean time, ……..while others are being mean….
You be Christ-like.
Pray for them.
Wish them well.
Go out of your way to speak pleasant words in their presence.
“If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone” Romans 12:18
And, make a vow that you will never be a fenemy.
Instead, be like Jesus.
He was a truth teller, but he spoke the truth in love.
He knew who to hang with and who to avoid.
He was always respectful when dealing with both friend and foe.
Be as wise a a serpent but as harmless as a dove. (Matthew 10:16)
And surround yourself with true friends.
Their worth is incalculable.
And, today, let us know…….how do you handle strained and false friendships? Ever had, or been, a frenemy? How about your pre-teen and teenage daughters, have they had an experience with a frenemy situation?
We all have a lot to learn in this area…
And one person who leaves a comment will be chosen to win a $10 Starbucks gift card to use to treat a friend to coffee. Dare I say maybe even a friend with whom you have a strained relationship? Perhaps God is nudging you to make amends.
I’m jiss sayin’……..