We moved around a lot when I was growing up, so a lot of the friendships I had ended up fizzling after we moved and we just never kept in touch. Because of this nomad lifestyle, I never learned how to truly be a friend to someone and no one was ever truly a friend to me. Over the last few years (through college), I have looked at friendships a lot differently. I’ve started to evaluate and be more intentional with the friends and company I keep. In addition to this, I have reflected on friendships that did not work or people that I am not as close to as I used to be. I used to think friends were just people you hung out with every now and then, invite them to go to events, and so on. Sure we would tell each other our deepest secrets, but I never truly felt connected or loved by some of the people I considered “friends”. I’ve realized that friendships are so much deeper and like all kinds of relationships, they require work and PRAYER.
How Should we Love our Friends?
Prioritize, be selfless, and be intentional with your friends. We all get so caught up in our own lives, that we forget to check on those around us. We ask our friends and loved ones how they are – only half listening to the actual answer. There is a deep hurt in our generation that is coming to light. We have to protect our friends, especially the “strong” ones that always seem to have it together. We have to be alert and aware to know when our friends say they are OK, versus when they say they are but in actuality, are not. And when they are not OK, we owe it to them to be available to talk, pray and cry with them. When they are going through tough these tough times, we have to know when to grieve with them and when to offer advice, much like Job’s friends in Job 2:13. Job was stricken with disappointments, losses back-to-back and eventually, he was imprisoned. When his friends were finally able to see him, they did not lecture him and make him feel worse about his circumstances (at first), rather they simply sat and grieved. This speaks volumes to me. I often want to be the problem solver for my friends – out of love, I offer advice and solutions when sometimes all they need is an ear to listen and a shoulder to cry on. That’s it.
“A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity”.
Let us slow down in life and take time to put others first. One phone call, text message, or small conversation in passing can mean the world to someone. It can stop them from making a decision they cannot come back from. Let us not get caught up in the hustle and bustle of life and neglect those closest to us. We never know when they will need us and, likewise, when we will need them.
Lord, thank you for the people you have brought into our lives. Thank you for the opportunities we have to minister and be a rock for each one of them through whatever they may face. Thank you for those that you have strategically placed in our lives to stand for us when we do not have the strength to do so. And when we (or they) do not have words, thank You for the Holy Spirit that speaks through us. Open our physical and spiritual eyes to see when friends are in need of our help and prayer – or just simply need some extra love. Help us put ourselves aside, and make others a priority. Thank you, Father. In Jesus’ name, we pray, Amen.
“Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends”.
One of our favorite resources to help evaluate and prioritize friendships is to Fruitful Friendships Guide from our friends over at Cultivate What Matters.
Here are a few tips to help your friendships bloom:
- Set small goals each week & month to prioritize those close to you. This doesn’t have to be anything big or extravagant. Just start small! Add a note to your planner to call a friend this week and set one evening aside this month to invite another friend for dinner.
- Embrace your personality and love language in the way you love others. You don’t have to force yourself into uncomfortable situations. If you don’t like to talk on the phone, it’s okay to find other ways to spend quality time together.
- Become a master of awkward. Good friendships require vulnerability and vulnerability is scary. Deep, meaningful conversations are what lead to deep-rooted relationships. When those 1-2 seconds of silence start to become awkward, don’t jump to “fill the silence”. This may be an opportunity for your friend to open up and for you to truly listen. Try asking a second question. Simply asking, “How are you?” generally receives the “I’m good” surface reply, so dig a little deeper. Try some of these: No really, how are you? How did that make you feel? Is there more to the story?
Head over to Cultivate What Matters to grab your Fruitful Friendships guide today!