Corrupting Companions

Have you ever had a friend that you knew wasn't "good" for you? A friend that gives/gave you "permission" to be less than what God wants/wanted you to be?

I had a friend like that growing up. I begged for time with her, berated and argued with my parents for freedom to be friends with her, and told them not to worry- she was a Christian! She was then and is now a close friend. I'm thankful for our friendship now, and I'm thankful that she is now walking with the Lord.

But growing up with that friendship as my closest friendship gave me "permission" to do many things I'm now ashamed of, to walk in ways that led to sin, and to be exposed to things that I never would have otherwise known about. That friendship was my one "invitation to the party" of sin, so to speak. If that one friendship hadn't existed, or hadn't been allowed to continue, how many things might have been different in my adolescent and teenage years?

I am sharing this not as a confession of sin (as these things have all been long confessed and openly acknowledged), as a complaint against my parents (as I understand the struggle they went through over this friendship, and know they did the best they could), nor as a regret of the ultimate outcome of that friendship (as I dearly love this friend of mine and God has graciously brought us both to walk with Him as adults), but as a way of encouraging you to help your children to select good friends, and as a challenge to you to pull your children out of harms way in this area.

We all want our children to grow up to be responsible adults; ideally, we want them to have enough freedom to make "affordable mistakes" while they're still at home. Part of the conflict that I know my own parents dealt with has to do with freedom vs. protection. How much should we interfere? Shouldn't we let our children "learn the ropes" of friendship through the hard knocks that come on the playground and the backyard?

But my exhortation to you is this: "bad company corrupts good character". You CAN and you should protect your children in this way.

If my parents had tried to interfere, would I have fought tooth and nail to keep this friendship? Yes. Would I have been angry and hateful and spouted venomous words? Yes. Would I have acted as if the whole world was coming to an end and I would never have forgiven them? Yes. But would I have gotten over it eventually? Yes. And would I ultimately have been far more protected from the influences of the world? Yes, I believe so.

Again, this is not a condemnation of my friend or my parents, as I love them all very much, and am extremely grateful for the grace of God that rescued me (and her) from the pit.

But this
is a challenge to you: be strong. Be the parent. Be the protector of this person that God has entrusted to you. If your child is enamored with a friend who is enamored with the world, start now to help your child put distance between them. If they fight you on it, be firm. If your child is not yet involved in such a friendship, begin now to build this into their internal conscience: to know how to evaluate and select godly friends. To know when to back off from a relationship that would tear them down. To recognize that this is not an area you want to have to "step into". Let them know that you love them enough to step in if they make a really bad choice in this area (just as you would do if they were about to put their hand on a hot burner). Build this into your child's character as an area that will prove critical to their adolescent and young adult lives.

This one area of the companions they keep can set them on the pathway to righteousness or the pathway to sin. You may be saying, "yes, but
YOU came out okay, Jessica. You made it through OK... you're serving God now." And yes, by His grace, all those things are true. And I am SO thankful. I love this friend, and I am thankful for God's grace at work in my life and in hers as well, but this post isn't about my past, but about your child's future.

Ultimately, I just wanted to share my own story and affirm this:
"Do not be deceived: Bad company corrupts good character."


Serena said...

So many parents are afraid of being the "bad guys". I think you've hit the nail squarely on the head, and I hope parents will take this to heart. I had Christian friends who weren't good influences, as well, and I am so incredibly grateful that I was preserved from the things that many of them did. My family moved at the beginning of my highschool years, and I WAS "angry and hateful", and I DID act as though the world was coming to an end, and I DID get over it. And now I see that if we hadn't moved, perhaps I would have been influenced by these friends into behavior that I would have regretted my whole life. I am so thankful that the Lord has preserved me from so much heartbreak.

KellyM said...

I read this a few days ago and heartily agreed, and now to reread it today I still heartily agree in the midst of my sadness. Just yesterday we had to sever ties to one such friend whose spiritual influence on my children I want to limit - my mom. Her actions and beliefs have become toxic, and my responsibility to raise my children well is more important than remaining in close contact with a believer in unrepentant sin. This post gave me a boost in reminding me that I am doing the right thing for my family, and coming through this experience will give me courage to be firm on the same topic in the future. Thank you.