I had three best friends when I was a preschooler: Jim, Angela, and Mossip Eyelash. Who cares if nobody else could see them? We had the best adventures ever. And then they moved away. But you know, whatever.
You could probably point to a different kind of friend for every major season of your life so far (and maybe even a few who have ridden it out with you over the very long haul). There are the fun friends, the sensitive friends, the common interest friends, the wise friends. Like it or not, God intended us for one another. No man is an island (but even a man on an island can create an imaginary friend. See Castaway for reference.)
Different people do friendship differently, and that’s fine. Some love having 8,000 friends on Facebook, enjoying the popularity of the masses. Others look for a small handful of deep relationships, desiring to bare their souls to a few trusted friends. Regardless of which camp you naturally fall into, connection brings about benefits unavailable elsewhere. As the saying goes, shared joy is a double joy; shared sorrow is half sorrow. Friends just make life easier.
One of Satan’s go-to weapons is that of isolation. “No one in the history of the world has ever struggled with that the way you do. You’re so ____________ (gross, dumb, lame, shameful, wrong, etc.). If anyone knew, they would think so, too.” And he perpetuates the darkness that suffocates our souls. But Jesus delights to bring light, and He often does this through relationships. C.S. Lewis said something like, “Friendship is born when one person says to another, ‘What? You too? I thought I was the only one.'” No, dear friend, you are not the only one. God is a good Father who gives good gifts to His children, and one of those good gifts is giving the children to one another.
What kinds of qualities do you look for most in a friend?
What kinds of qualities could you offer someone who needs a friend?
Relationships go both ways. If you tend to only give, practice receiving for a while with thankful humility and a recognition of grace. If you have a habit of taking, learn to produce in the context of friendship: initiate, be generous, think ahead.
I love movies and have a special fondness for The Hunger Games. Consider friendship as the training arena. There are lots of distinct places to either learn new skills or to hone what you’re already good at. Friendship is our training arena. We can go over here and discover conflict resolution, there to develop our selflessness, toward the back to sharpen our trust, or in the corner to perfect our crisis skills. The possibilities are endless, though 1 Corinthians 13 is a fabulous place to start. As we work our way through this process, we become more and more like Jesus (who had close friends of His own). And when we get to glory, we’ll have eternity to make new friends with our brothers and sisters throughout the history of the world. Who knows? Mossip Eyelash might even be there.
A few tips on friendship:
- Let your closest friends inspire you to love God more, not less.
- Choose a wide variety of people to hang out with, not just clones of you.
- Be the kind of friend you needed when you were younger.
- Don’t let past hurts keep you from reaching out to someone new.
- Give your friends permission to lovingly call you out on your sin.
- Ask God what He thinks about your relationships.
- Surround yourself with the kinds of people you’d like to become.
- Don’t be afraid to let a friendship last just for a season.
- Be slow to hurt and quick to forgive.
- Learn from past relationship failures (your own and others’).
- Communicate to your friends how important they are to you.
- Let the Lord use them to mold you into who He wants you to be.
- Be willing to be joyfully surprised at who God brings your way.
- Do a quick study on what Scripture says about friendship.
GOD’S FAIL-PROOF RELATIONSHIP FORMULA
Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.