Thursday, May 31, 2018

You know when you hang out with someone and after they say or do something in particular, you think: “we’re friends now and there’s no way out for either of us?” For one of my friends, it was after hours of conversation about crazy families and nerdy interests; another was after saying goodbye before he went abroad for cancer treatment; and another was after things got a little wild at an impromptu sleepover dance party.

Friendships are found in every part of our lives; their depth and longevity depending on both parties involved. At 24, I don’t claim to be wise or all-knowing on the subject but after four years serving as a leader at Calvary Youth and almost three years in Celebrate Recovery, I’ve learned how to find a good friend and how to be one myself.

One of the things that I have learned is that we all need to have friends you can learn from and laugh with. Proverbs 27:5-6 tells us: “An open rebuke is better than hidden love! Wounds from a sincere friend are better than kisses from an enemy.” We usually make friends based on similar belief systems and common interests, making the foundation of this new relationship one of sincerity and mutual respect. When we don’t establish the relationship in this way, it leads to misunderstanding the other person and crossing boundaries we didn’t know were there.

Some of the friends I have today I met in high school where we bonded over books and events and joked about school in general. We had a lot of fun and the relationships were very surface-level for a few months. Then we started testing the waters: having inside jokes for our group, making more time for each other, and gradually getting deeper in conversation. After a few years, we reached a point of comfort and safety that made calling out incorrect thoughts and behaviors constructive and positive, not destructive and negative.

If you see friendships as work, that’s all they’ll ever feel like. The joy of friendship is in the opportunity to grow in a safe space with people you can relate to where you can look back collectively on yourselves, laugh at your mistakes, and take pride in your progress.

Be the friend you’re looking for. What traits do you look for in a friend? Someone who’ll pick up the phone and pray with you in the middle of a crisis?Someone who’ll listen to you vent over coffee? Someone who’ll buddy-up with you on Halloween to do that Mini-Me and Dr. Evil costume idea you’ve had for years? Let me ask you another question: are you willing to be that for someone else? If not, then what are you bringing to this relationship? We need to pour into others the way others have poured into us; otherwise, we’ll become stagnant and frustrated when things build up inside us.

In John 13:35, Jesus says: “This is how everyone will recognize that you are my disciples- when they see the love you have for each other.” If you think a friend is someone who will constantly say yes to you and validate you, that’s not a friend. That’s vending machine. Using someone for personal satisfaction or gratification is so unlike Christ. Our friendships are to be an example of Jesus’ love for us. Hebrews 10:24-25 gives examples of ways we can give back to our friends: motivating one another to acts of love and good works, not forgetting to spend time together, and encouraging one another.

I realize I’ve made friendships sound intimidating but that’s how it is! Whether from a misunderstanding, gradual loss of communication, or flat-out rejection, I have probably a hundred friendships that didn’t work out. That’s not important. What’s important is that because of those failed relationships, I’ve grown into a better person, Christian, and friend. I have the best friends I’ve ever had right now because of laughter, learning, and reciprocation.


Author: Gracie E.


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