What does friendship--true friendship--look like?
Let's see what the Bible has to say.
Proverbs 17:17: "A friend loves at all times..."
Proverbs 18:24: "A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother."
"My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his 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..." -Jesus, John 15:12-16b
"Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we ought to love one another...We love because he first loved us." 1 John 4:7-11, 19Friendship is all about love--selfless love, agape love. Real friendship, the kind Christ has shown us in choosing us, living for us, dying for us, is this kind of love. We also show our friends the kind of love the Greeks called "Philia," a deep, friendly affection.
What does this mean? How do we show this kind of friend-love?
"Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres." 1 Corinthians 13:4-7That's what love is. That's what it does, and what it doesn't do.
This is how God loves us, and how he has taught us to love one another.
Friendship love isn't mushy love. The word "love" tends to be associated with romance. But friendship love isn't like that. It's steadfast, trusting, and unchanging. It's the kind of love between people that lets them say, "I'm going to stick with you no matter what, I'll always have your back, and when you're being an idiot, I'll let you know."
I should point out that there are different kinds of friends. There are kindred spirits, or friends of the heart--friends with whom you seem to have everything in common, friends who share your heart on all the most important things, friends you will have for all your life. These are the rarer kind of friends. Only a few of them may come into your life, but only a few are really needed. These are the people you will always be able to count on, and even if you don't see them in person for a long time, you'll never lose touch.
Then there are those friends who we talk to at school, work, and church, people who we'll happily visit with over coffee, but people to whom we don't tell all our secrets. These are great people to have in your life, and they can be a great blessing.
As a woman, I know how women think. We make lots of connections, we like having a network of people we know. (I'm also an extrovert, so I can't speak for introverts here. Please give me some input in the comments!) I used to have the habit of trying to cultivate a large group of close friends. It's only been recently that I realized the value of just a few close friends, and remaining friendly with other people I know.
Perhaps you don't have any very close friends. Maybe there isn't someone in your life who you can open your heart to. Even if you're married, there are emotional needs that women have that can't be met by even the dearest man in our lives. Girl friends are necessary whether you're young or middle-aged, married or single. If you struggle with making friends, my heart aches for you. I will be praying for you, that the Lord will bring a person in your life to meet those friendship needs!
I can suggest to you that to gain friends, you can work on being the kind of friend you'd like to have.
-Be intentional about getting together with people you know. Make that phone call. Set up a coffee date.
-Keep in touch with people you value. Send an email or even a text or Facebook message. If writing notes is your thing, drop a card in the mail.
-Frequent places where you can find like-minded people. Join a Bible study for people in your demographic (if you're a mom, find a moms' Bible study at your church), volunteer at a place you really support, help out at your kids' school. Do you like to work out? Find a Curves or a Zumba class in your area. Do you like to knit? See if there is a knitting group that meets at a church or community center near you.
-Pray about it! Even Jesus needed friends--although his friends weren't the kind of people his criticizers thought he would choose. Jesus hung out with tax collectors, prostitutes and beggars (but I'm not suggesting that's exactly what you should do!). God sees the desires of your heart, and he will answer your prayers (although he might not do it in the way you expect).
The bottom line is this: Our greatest and truest Friend is Jesus Christ. He might not be physically present in a way that you can see and touch and hear him, but God is present in your life. The Holy Spirit is everywhere, and if you are a baptized child of God, the Holy Spirit lives in your heart--closer than any person can get. He knows your joys and sorrows, he understands your questions and fears. He is there to give you peace and comfort and still your anxieties. Never forget this, dear one.
"What a friend we have in Jesus,
all our sins and griefs to bear.
What a privilege to carry
everything to God in prayer!
Oh, what peace we often forfeit,
Oh, what needless pain we bear,
all because we do not carry
everything to God in prayer.
Have we trials and temptations?
Is there trouble anywhere?
We should never be discouraged--
take it to the Lord in prayer.
Can we find a friend so faithful
who will all our sorrows share?
Jesus knows our every weakness--
take it to the Lord in prayer."
Text, Joseph M. Scriven