3 steps to assess and build real friendships
“I just want a true friend!” I’ve heard this many times (while looking in the mirror) while engaging in conversation with “friends”, or family members who have followed that with “well I mean besides you or any of our cousins”, whatever that means! However, it is interesting and often a fact that many of us yearn for close relationships that are built on values like trust, loyalty and fun! So why is it so hard to find such friends? While I’m not attempting to say I’ve got it figured out, I do want to share 3 steps you can take today to discover if you already have that friend, or begin to build that special friendship!
Before we dive into this it is important to understand that: True friendships are real; reality is that if you don’t believe you can have a real friend because “you can’t trust anyone” then you’ve already made the decision yourself not to build that friendship. Proverbs 18:24 reads: "There are "friends" who destroy each other, but a real friend sticks closer than a brother." How beautiful to know that the word of God affirms that real friends are out there!
How then can we assess our friendships or begin to build them?
1. Define it. So you want a real friend? What does that even mean!? You can’t possibly know if you have a real friend when you have no idea what a real friend looks like! A true friendship to you may look quite different than to others. For example, we may have friends that are there just when we need them, but they may not be available every week to hang out. Maybe they are real because they are loyal, accepting, and reliable. What does a real friend look like for you? Take time to define it and write it down! And don’t forget to consider the opinion of those closest to you regarding what a true friend looks like! Proverbs 28: 7 reads: “Young people who obey the law are wise; those with wild friends bring shame to their parents."
2. Assess yourself. Now that you know what a real friend means to you, is time to test yourself! Look at your own definition and ask “am I being that friend to someone?” We often know what we want but we are not always willing to give it. Now, you may say “not me”, because you feel you are a real friend, and you may be, however keep in mind that what you need in a friend may not be what others need or desire. You may just want someone to “text” with daily, but your friend may only want to “see” you weekly. Real friends understand each other’s needs and are willing to compromise to be there for each other. Take time to ask your friend what they think a “real friend” looks like. Then read that with someone you trust (parents, youth pastor, etc.). Make sure their demands are biblical and realistic.
3. Commit. Here is the deal, it is hard to find a real friend. Many of us deal with trust issues, past history of abuse, or recent changes that affect our ability to be a real friend. However, we all have the ability to decide and commit to being the friend we long for. Stop looking for now and focus on deepening your friendships by becoming the real friend the Bible speaks about. It is not easy, it will be hurtful at times, but remember being a “real friend” is not about them being there for you, but you being there for them. Proverbs 20:6 reads: “Many will say they are loyal friends, but who can find one who is truly reliable?"
Maybe you lost a friendship and it wasn’t your fault. Are you willing and able to still be there for that person even if they don’t deserve it? When we broke our friendship with God he came after us and offered to “make up” even though it wasn’t his fault, even though we didn’t deserve it (Romans 5:8). God taught us what it means to be a real friend. Are you one?