The heartfelt counsel of a friend is as sweet as perfume and incense. Proverbs 27:9 NLT
To me, heartfelt counsel is wise, direct, and given with the intention of helping, not hurting or manipulating. It is spoken from the heart, from love, and in truth. Sometimes, the counsel is the hardest words we’ve ever said.
Sometimes, the heartfelt counsel ends the friendship because the other would not or could not hear the love beneath the words. That doesn’t mean we stop. We evaluate and assess and seek the Lord’s guidance. Was I honest yet gentle? Was I speaking truth or manipulating? Could I have spoken differently, or better? We apologize. If the other still chooses to end the relationship, that is their choice. We can’t make someone forgive us or be our friend.
When I look at my best friends, they’re a very diverse group. From my age to young enough to be my children. Different races, nationalities, genders, religious affiliations, economic backgrounds, political views. There is one common thread through them all—in some way, God brought us together.
Sometimes the divine connection is as clear as a neon light. Other times its muted by the subtlety of being around each other for a while and then realizing a friendship has grown. Somewhere along the line, we moved from acquaintances or co-workers to friends.
The closest of them have given open, honest, and heartfelt counsel that has changed my life. It could be in the area of my writing, my relationships with others, or my relationship with God.
Because of the sincerity of our friendships, it’s like God has ordained them with permission to speak into me in ways others can’t. They can be bold and honest, they can challenge me, take me by the scruff of the neck and shake me.
They are the friends who are closer than a brother and I am blessed to have them.