This concludes my current friendship series with James, a straight, alpha male type leader in my life. We’d grown close, but the bond between us was severely tested when our mutual friend and housemate, Pierce, died.

After Pierce’s funeral, I felt almost paralyzed. I just couldn’t force myself to lead at the house. James needed me to lead and be a help to him, so he confronted me on being too passive. I admitted he was right, but I felt unable to get beyond my emotions and lead others.

Things degenerated until James and I barely talked. We actually avoided each other as I experienced serious emotional pain.

I questioned myself. Could an emotional guy like me ever really hope to get along with a tough guy like James? I was tempted to give up on him as a friend, but I couldn’t forget the ways he’d kept showing me love. Especially that time he physically defended me from a violent housemate.

When James and I finally talked, I told him how much grief I still held for Pierce and how much additional pain I felt for our troubled friendship. James urged me to take my trouble to God and find out why I felt paralyzed by grief and emotional pain.

Somehow, God let me see the way out. The pain of my grief was real, but I realized I felt more concern for myself and who gave me attention in my suffering.

I didn’t think about what my friends, especially James, really needed. One of James’s love languages is acts of service, but my big ones are quality time and physical touch.

It was never spoken aloud, but essentially I had been selfishly demanding him to show me love in my favorite ways while I withheld showing him love in his primary ways.

A light went on inside. I’d use James’s own love languages to express love to him. God gave me the desire and ability to do the acts of service that James and the other guys needed and that I should have been doing all along.

Additionally, I deliberately gave James words of encouragement on his emotional self-control and hard work. I admitted he was right about my passivity, and I started fighting through it to accomplish important goals.

Around the same time, James had some serious issues with his former girlfriend. One day, he just opened up and shared some deeply personal emotional stuff. The walls between us collapsed, and we loved and trusted each other again!

I am still not being the kind of active leader I need to be, but I am moving in that direction. I am setting goals and taking steps.

James and I still have to work through mistrust and misunderstandings, but I don’t think either of us doubts that we have a solid commitment to each other as friends.

I tell this story so others will be inspired to keep working through problems and build strong, genuine friendships with others, including straight guys!

Because of James’s influence, I have much more of a sense of purpose. I am much more courageous, and I feel much more like a real man! Yes, it is really worth it!

Have you ever drifted apart from a close friend or seen the friendship get restored? Have you had a beneficial friendship with a straight guy where you learned from him — and he learned from you?

About the Author

  • Bravo, Marshall. What a great ending to a very painful story. I had a similar situation this year with one of my friendships.
    G– is a fellow at work that I befriended last year. He was going through a very difficult time with a fellow co-worker (who was subsequently fired), and during that time I became a confidante of sorts to him.
    We hit it off pretty good, despite our myriad differences. He is everything I am not–a former marine, very fit, intelligent to the nth degree, etc. etc. At first, it struck me very odd that he even wanted my friendship. I am several years older and do not share a lot of his interests. He is what I call a nominal Christian, but not born again, like me. He tends to be more liberal on social things, while I am conservative.
    For some reason, one day he took huge offense to something I said, and I was only kidding. I literally had no idea until the next morning at work, when he exhibited quite a bit of anger toward me. I apologized profusely and literally backed away from him and fled to my office. The ice between us solidified over the next few days. I was distraught and didn’t know what to do. I prayed. Finally, I sent him a text apologizing again and explaining my intentions. He had thought better of it, and had calmed way down and issued a kind of half-apology to me and suggested we just move on from it and be better friends.
    That has been an answer to prayer, but to be truthful, things are not the same between us since then. That part saddens me. But I am giving him space and trying to be sensitive to him.
    I hate misunderstandings. I really did try to take the low road from the get-go on this. I still cannot understand the vehemence of his reaction. I thought we understood each other better than we obviously did. these types of things really do hurt.
    I’m glad your friendship is healed, brother!

    • Kirk, thanks for sharing that story. I have had several times when co-workers misunderstood me and took offense. They were not genuine believers and never really got over it, even though I worked at reconciliation. I understand.

    • Thanks Tom! Yes, when I have an issue with a friend like James I am definitely committed to restoration if at all possible. Friendships like ours don’t happen every day!
      BTW, Tom, I’m so glad I have you in my life, too!

  • Thanks for telling this story, Marshall! It’s all too easy (too human!) to think first about what we are getting from a relationship instead of considering what we have to offer. Not that it’s necessarily good or sustainable to always be giving and never receiving, but I do want to be the kind of person who considers the other person first.

    • Thanks Ryan. When I have taken the approach of considering others first, not everyone responds back in friendship. Still, there have always been a few who do and I have almost never lacked friends.
      James definitely continues to be a genuine friend, challenging me with the truth while caring about me.

  • >