What does it mean to be a friend? And are you being the best one you can be?
October 18, 2018
~ “Many people will walk in and out of your life, but only true friends leave footprints in your heart.”~
For quite some time now the topic of FRIENDSHIP has been on my heart and mind, and God has been challenging me to be a better friend.
As we go through seasons of life, friends come and go. You may still be super close to friends you’ve had since were just kid, or they’re gone or hardly present in your life anymore… or you may have a friend that you have only known just a short time and you just clicked and know you are going to be “besties” for life.
Having friends is so important in life! God gives us friends for a reason. Our family and spouses are wonderful (my husband is by far my best friend!), but there is something so special about having those good, close, and true friends by your side going through life along with you!
Before I dive into things, I want to preface with this… Being a good friend is work, just like any relationship or marriage. It’s not always easy and all of us fall short now and then. That’s life. It’s all a process of learning and growing. None of us are ever going to be the “perfect friend”, but we can try! The only perfect friend there ever was, was Jesus! He gave some great examples (that we can strive to replicate), and there are many verses on what it means to be a true friend. Here is the meaning of what a ‘true friend’ is and what the Bible has to say about it…
WHAT DOES BEING A “FRIEND” MEAN?
~”Friend”- a person whom one knows and with whom one has a bond of mutual affection
~”Friendship” – a relationship between friends, a state of mutualtrust and support
I’m going to go in depth and break down the definitions here of a few key words in these definitions of friend and friendship that really bring clarity to exactly what a friend/friendship is.
“To have developed a relationship with someone through meeting and spending time with them”
A friend is someone you have to know – but here are 2 sides to it. Knowing who a person is and truly knowing a person are very different things. There is a “Facebook” level of knowing a “friend” and there is the ‘best friend’ who you talk to often and know everything about them… the “share your heart and struggles” kind of friend! To know someone, you need to spend time with them consistently – get to know what is going on in their life, learn and know their heart and who they are as a person, their opinions and what they believe, their likes and dislikes, struggles, needs, etc…
My sister’s know me almost inside out. We are incredibly close – the BEST of FRIENDS! We know what each other are practically thinking! (Lol.) It’s such an amazing feeling to know someone so closely and to have friends that encourage you and have the desire to know you in return. It shows that you matter to that person, and that is such an important thing in a relationship! 🙂
Hebrews 10:24-25 “And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near. ”
~ “One of the most beautiful qualities of a true friendship is to understand and to be understood.”~
“To be joined securely to something else, especially by means of an adhesive substance, heat, or pressure; a force or feeling that unites people; a shared emotion or interest.”
We need to be connected to a friend – able to stick together through thick and thin! United and able to withstand and work through anything life may throw at us. Present for each other and praying for one another.
This doesn’t mean you have to always be physically present in order to be friends. If you, (or a friend) has moved away and the test of distance comes into play, things will definitely be different as you can’t hang out every week, but you can still remain close and connected. You will need to put just as much, if not more, effort into being intentional though so you don’t let the relationship die. (Communicating often, visiting when you can, and reaching out! -There is no reason not to be able to stay connected unless it is chosen.)
A move (to a different city or state) is basically a test to see how much a friendship means to someone. If the “move-ee” gets caught up in their “new life and friends” and doesn’t make a point to maintain a relationship, or you are met with little to no effort from friends back home – perhaps it is best things have come to a close. You can only try so hard before you get burnt out or hurt with the lack of effort that perhaps it’s best to focus on friends who will reciprocate.
If you do have great friends who are wonderful, and your friendship has grown even though thousands of miles separate you – this is wonderful!!! There are so many great ways to stay connected these days and I am so thankful for them! (FB, snapchat, texting, calls, video chats, etc… All fun ways to stay connected!) My best friend lives over 1,000 miles away and we have never been closer! It is definitely possible to still stay the best of friends even parted by ½ a country! You will never regret staying connected!
My sisters and I grew up very close to one another! We lived with each other, had the same friends, were involved in the same ministries in church, and even worked together. We share an incredible bond! But life has a way of changing things and almost 5 years ago my younger sister moved an hour away. Things drastically changed and it was a hard transition going from being together pretty much 24/7 to seeing each other maybe once or twice a month. It was tough, but we stayed close. Then 2 years later, my older sister moved 1.5 hours away. Things have changed a lot. (Life has a way of doing that.) We are all married now and constant changes and growth have taken place. But I have to say even though life has pulled us in different directions and we are miles apart, we are just as close! I am so blessed to have sisters who I share such a special bond of friendship with!
If you are in the boat of losing touch or friendship due to a move, or just in general, and you are in either of these situations I described, it’s never too late to try and reconnect and gain back what was lost! (There is always grace for any mistakes made on either end!) Try again to get back in contact and rebuild that which crumbled. You will have to be committed to put in effort, but you will never regret having friends, and true friends at that! It’s a beautiful thing!
Psalms 133:1 “Behold, how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity
~ “True friendship isn’t about being inseparable, it’s being separated and nothing changes.”~
~ “When you get older you realize it’s not as important to have a lot of friends. It’s more important to have true friends.”~
“Experienced or done by each of two or more parties toward the other or others”
Being a friend goes BOTH ways – it’s a two way street. The feelings and desires of maintaining a relationship need to be mutually reciprocated. There has to be just as much effort put in from both sides in order to have a healthy friendship. Be a “giver”, not a “taker”.
“Takers” don’t really reach out or put much or any effort into maintaining a relationship (either because they are more focused on their own lives or not too interested outside of that, or because they have a selfish view of the relationship – only in it for what they can get out of.). They will attend things you invite them to sometimes, but only if it’s convenient (or fun – if they’re “thrill seekers”)… if they are a “talker/complainer” it will seem like they want you to be their best friend because they share everything, but if they aren’t ever interested in you, this is not healthy. It’s difficult to be a friends with people like this and it would probably best if you talk to them about concerns you may have and give them a chance to reciprocate.
“Givers” are the ones who will reach out, try to get involved, check in on you, and put effort into things – inviting and reaching out. They have a desire to be a true friend and to know, support and be involved in their friend’s life. If there is little to no reciprocation though, they will usually keep on giving until they are exhausted with “trying and getting nothing back” and just have to quite, or they wind up getting hurt from lack of desire for true relationship from their “friend”.
When I was a little girl I had a few “friends” who I thought I was really close with. I thought we would be the best of friends forever (At 12 years old, who wouldn’t think that? Lol.), but I am sad to say that did not happen, much to my dismay. I tried so hard to keep them as friends, invited them to my house to play, bought them gifts, saved them seats at church, wrote them notes, etc… I adored them! – And then, just like that, they were gone from my life or made new friends. I was heartbroken! For years I mourned the loss of the friendships, wondering what I could have done better, or what I could have done to make them dislike me and not want to be my friend anymore… Looking back, I realize the friendship was mostly 1 sided. It wasn’t a mutual relationship, and there wasn’t mutual affection.
Be careful which kind of friends you choose to share yourself with – it’s not fun to get hurt! And be careful not to be like a “taker” (even in the smallest of ways) – being on the giving and receiving end can be very damaging. Put in the effort and be giving and see where it takes you – you’ll be glad you did! Relationships can last a life time, and withstand anything if you work at it!! 🙂
Proverbs 18:24 “A man who has friends must himself be friendly, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.”
Proverbs 12:25-27 “Anxiety weighs down the heart, but a kind word cheers it up. The righteous choose their friends carefully, but the way of the wicked leads them astray. The lazy do not roast any game, but the diligent feed on the riches of the hunt.”
Hebrews 10:24-25 “And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near. ” (Yes, I repeated this one! 😉 It’s a good one!!)
~ “Two things you will never have to chase: True friends & true love.”~
~ “True friendship is when your friends are always there by your side when you need them, and when you don’t.”~
“A gentle feeling of fondness or liking”
There has to be a degree of “liking”to be friends. You don’t have to like everything about them or agree with them on everything, but there has to be some kind of affection/”love” present for a relationship to flourish. God calls us to love our neighbor as our self and to love like He loves. Love is serving, selfless, caring for the other’s well-being and making them a priority – putting them before yourself. You know that good feeling you get when you give someone a gift? How rewarding it is to be selfless and loving!
Hugs and gifts are my thing! I love showing affection and that I care by giving hugs (even sending virtual hugs!!) or gifts to friends. It doesn’t have to be a big deal all the time or even a physical hug – even doing something for someone, or sending them something, is like a nice big warm hug!! Hug your friends! Show them you care and they are not alone! 🙂 You never know if you will be able to tomorrow!!
John 15:12-17 “My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command. I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you. This is my command: Love each other.”
Proverbs 17:17a “A friend loves at all times.”
Romans 12:10-11 “Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord.”
Philippians 2:4 “Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.”
~ “True friendship takes us by the hand and reminds us we are not alone in the journey.”~
“The way in which two or more people are connected, or the state of being connected”
Back to the word connected again. When something is connected to another, take a chain for example, each link is always there and present for the other. It never leaves the other links. It constantly knows what’s going on with the other ones it’s connected to… it’s involved with, and alongside the other links when something happens to them. It’s there to listen and to support and help when a heavy weight is put on them as they creak about under the load. That is, I believe, how God created friendships to be. We are there for our friends, supporting them, helping and serving them, involved, connected, listening and seeking out, knowing them, and loving them just as much as they do in turn for us.
I know we can get busy with life and things fall by the wayside at times, and we don’t always do the best we could to keep in contact with people. Some days we are just trying to keep our head above water, I totally get that… but keep in mind – people make time for what is truly important to them and do not make excuses for those things. Remind yourself of what’s most important in life… God, other’s, and then yourself! Be a blessing, and Jesus hands and feet to those He has put in your life! Nurture those relationships and be there for people, and they will in turn bless you and be there for you.
This is something that God is challenging me in. To seek out and be better in my relationships! To try and connect myself to friends and strive not lose that connection. I don’t always succeed, but it is my goal to try!
I care about my sisters a lot. (Yes, I am talking about them again… They’re pretty great! Lol!) We talk just about every day. (Facebook messaging groups are AWESOME!) It’s not always deep conversations, but little things here and there. A funny picture or video shared, a note reminding each other of our love for one another, a short message of what’s going on in our lives, and sometimes a novel!! (Lol!) In all honesty though, doing something like this takes as little as 30 seconds, but it really keeps us close and connected! I feel like I am not alone in life because they are always there no matter the distance!! (Thank you, sisters! 🙂
Friendship is such a beautiful thing! God created us to need each other. We cannot do life on our own. We, of course, need Jesus first, but we also need people in our lives! – Friends! We have so much to offer to others, as well as so much to receive in return! We are all brothers and sisters in Christ – a family – that is what we need to be!
Proverbs 27:9 “Oil and perfume make the heart glad, and the sweetness of a friend comes from his earnest counsel”
1 Thessalonians 5:11 “Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.”
~ “A true friend cares about what’s going on in your life!”~
~ “Good friends care for each other. Close friends understand each other. And true friends stay forever, beyond words, beyond time.”~
“Firm belief in the reliability, truth, ability, or strength of someone or something”
This is another big one when it comes to friendships! There HAS to be trust!! A true friend is someone you can rely on and know will be there for you no matter what! They won’t stab you in the back, betray your confidence, be critical and tear you down, lie to you, betray you, be spiritually proud, put themselves before you, boast, or speak hurtful or judgmental things.
When you need help or are struggling, etc… they will be there for you (and it won’t always be because you had to call and ask them to be there for you, but it should also be that they are checking in with you, and seeking you out… they are around you and can tell when something isn’t right and WILL be there for you no matter what…). They will be a shoulder to cry on, a listening ear, strength when you are weak, quick to forgive, and an “encourager” – speaking life into you.
A true friend will also be one to call you out in love when you need it – because there is love and trust. The best intentions are at heart because they care for what’s best for you, and they aren’t afraid to do or say some hard things!
It is such a wonderful thing to have someone you can trust and rely on! In my life I have been hurt more times than I care to admit. I hold nothing against them and have moved on, but the twinge of those memories lingers. I believe that God had me go through those situations for a reason though. Not because He is a “mean or cruel” God, but because He wanted me to learn some lessons through the process. (Silver and Gold have to go through a lot of fire in the refining process before the beautiful end result!!) And, the more someone has firsthand experience in something, the more wisdom, compassion, and empathy they have for others who go through the same thing and they can help and encourage! It has also pushed me to try and be a better, honest, reliable, and trustworthy friend. I encourage you, dear readers, to look at those past hurts you may have had as a learning experience and use them to push you to be an even better, more trustworthy and reliable friend! 🙂
Proverbs 27:17 “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.
Proverbs 27:5-6 “Better is open rebuke than hidden love. Wounds from a friend can be trusted, but an enemy multiplies kisses.”
Proverbs 18:21 “Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruit.”
James 1:19 “My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry”
Philippians 2:3 “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves.”
Proverbs 11:2 “When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom.”
Romans 12:16 “Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited.”
Something else to keep in mind…
Proverbs 22:24-25 “Do not make friends with a hot-tempered man, do not associate with one easily angered, or you may learn his ways and get yourself ensnared.”
1 Corinthians 15:33 “Do not be misled: “Bad company corrupts good character.”
“To bear all or part of the weight of; hold up”
A support is absolutely necessary for something to remain intact. We cannot abandon our friends. We need to be there for one another! If you remove a support beam from a house, you are in big trouble! If you are not a support or receiving support in a friendship, it will never be what a true friendship could be. We are placed in lives for a reason. To bear each other’s burdens, to help, serve, to pray for, encourage, build each other up, and to carry them when they are weak!!
It’s amazing to have friends like this! It’s such an incredible blessing to give, and to receive. I can’t count the amount of times my friends have been there for me! Whether it’s giving a listening ear when I am stressed or struggling, bringing a meal or ice cream over when I am sick or injured, hangout when I’m lonely, praying for me in seasons of trials and difficulty, etc… (I could go on!) I feel so blessed to have some amazing friends and I only hope that I can be as great a friend in return!
My prayer is that you, dear reader, have the wonderful privilege of being/receiving such support as this to/for your friends as well!! It is one of the many things God has called us to as Christians in the body of Christ, and truly a blessing!!
Galatians 6:2 “Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.”
Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 “Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up.”
Job 2:11 “When Job’s three friends, Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite and Zophar the Naamathite, heard about all the troubles that had come upon him, they set out from their homes and met together by agreement to go and sympathize with him and comfort him.
Colossians 3:12-14 “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.”
Philippians 1:3-5 “I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy, because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now.”
~ “Friends pick us up when we fall down, and if they can’t pick us up, they lie down and listen for a while.”~
~ “Real friends are always going to be there by your side, even at times when you tell them to leave.”~
THE SUM OF BEING A FRIEND….
So to sum it all up, a TRUE FRIEND is one who…
“Cares, loves, seeks out/inquires, is connected and knows/known on a deep and intimate/personal level, one you can share hearts with, supports/builds up/encourages, is trustworthy, honest, loyal, someone who is not afraid to share hard things, and one who can be counted on to put just as much effort into the relationship as you do.”
I know it may seem a bit daunting to try and live up to each of these standards to the fullest, but a good friend will see the effort we put into the relationship be good friends, and will appreciate it so much – even if we don’t always get it right! No one is perfect (I will be the first to admit this!) and no one should expect that – we never can be. But a good friend will give grace, and God give us grace and carry us when we need it!
Upon this reflection, do you meet this criteria for being a friend? Or do you think you, or your friends, fall short of living up to the full meaning of a “true friend”?
If you do, that’s awesome! Keep being a stellar friend! People are blessed to have you as their friend!!
If you think there is some room for growth in certain areas, it’s not too late to make some changes! – to talk to your friends, to apologize or speak honestly (in LOVE) about concerns. God calls us to be friendly and to share His love. The best thing someone can be is HONEST with their friends and themselves, be HUMBLE enough to admit flaws or failures, PRAY that God will give STRENGTH and WISDOM to make some changes, and then MOVE FORWARD in a fresh and new way of giving and receiving friendship!!!
1 Peter 4:10 “As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace.”
Ephesians 4:2 “Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.”
~ “True friends are like diamonds – bright, beautiful, valuable, and always in style.”~
Let’s be the best FRIENDS we can be!!! I believe in you!!! And remember – You are beautifully and WONDERFULLY made! Precious and valuable. Never forget! 🙂