The Silence of Our Friends

It is not enemies who taunt me—
    I could bear that;
it is not adversaries who deal insolently with me—
    I could hide from them.
But it is you, my equal,
    my companion, my familiar friend,
with whom I kept pleasant company. – Psalm 55:12-14

Have you ever had a friend let you down? In a time when others were speaking badly about you, that friend couldn’t be found. Or they were there but didn’t say a word in your defense. What hurt more? The things being said about you or your friend’s betrayal?

I think we’ve all had a friend like that at least once in our lives. More importantly, though, I think we’ve all been that friend. When we’ve had a chance to speak up for our friends, or for people like them, we’ve kept our mouths shut. Whether we’ve realized it or not, we’ve hurt our friends more than any words could have.

We live in an age where we are sometimes defined less by our words than by our silences. If we say “Black Lives Matter” to our Black friends, yet keep our mouths shut when our racist uncle utters a slur at Thanksgiving dinner, we aren’t really being allies. If we say that we support the “Me Too” movement on social media, yet dismiss accounts of harassment or support in our social circles, we aren’t being true friends to the ones who need friends the most. 

But a true friend? That’s the one who stands up and fills the silence with a call to justice. That’s the one who risks something because the friendship matters to them. That’s the one who will be remembered, for days to come, for what they did when it was needed the most.


God, make me the person who speaks up for my friends, both when they’re around, and when they’re not. 

dd-emilyheath.jpgAbout the Author
Emily C. Heath is the Senior Pastor of The Congregational Church in Exeter (New Hampshire) and the author most recently of Courageous Faith: How to Rise and Resist in a Time of Fear.