Why did it resonate so strongly? This deep longing to know we are not alone and that someone will be there for us in our time of need resides in each and every one of us. It’s foundational. To be truly known and yet to be accepted, and even loved, is the greatest earthly gift one human can give to another.
Recently, I had a recent situation that has lead me to reevaluate the true meaning of friendship, and quite frankly, wondering if it really exists. There may be a few of you who are reading and might take offense. – a number that can be counted on part of one hand. You know who you are. I am not talking about you. So chill.
“A real friend is one who walks in when the rest of the world walks out.” (1)
Here are the foundational elements I have come up with…
STAND TOGETHER – “A friend loves at all times” – Proverbs 17:17a. And when it comes to what love actually looks like, start with “Love is patience, love is kind…” and continue in 1 Corinthians 13. True friends focus on what they can give, rather than what they can get, what we can contribute rather than having the “what’s in it for me” attitude that permeates the world. When it counts and you heard only crickets where your “friends” once stood, then it becomes clear that their only interest was in what a you could offer them and not about building real relationship.
DEFEND ONE ANOTHER – “A brother is born for adversity.” – Proverbs 17:17b. When trials come, why is it that people scatter like the disciples after Jesus’ arrest? And instead of “I’m here for you”, more often we hear, “you’re on your own”. Those who take off instead of standing together are only thinking of themselves and are not a true friend to anyone. Jesus said, “Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.” – John 15:13. Do you have what it takes to be a true friend?
SPEAK LIFE – “Iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.” – Proverbs 27:17. True friends will encourage you when you are down and also have the courage to bring gentle correction when you lose your way. “Open rebuke is better than love carefully concealed. Faithful are the wounds of a friend, but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful.” – Proverbs 27:5-6. When is the last time you contacted someone with no other agenda other than to encourage them?
“A friend knows the song in my heart and sings it to me when my memory fails.” (2)
HANG OUT – When you see your “friends’ are trying to contact you, what does their track record tell you is likely the reason they are contacting you? Do they generally contact to give or because they “need” something from you? As often as I can, I really enjoy calling up a friend and taking them to lunch or inviting them over just to hang out, see how they are doing, and if I can help them in some way. Maybe I am just weird, but I believe this is the way it should be.
“Don’t make friends who are comfortable to be with. Make friends who will force you to lever yourself up.” (3)
RECONCILE – Let’s face it, there are going to be those times when something comes between friends. Everything from the firm exclamation, “Dude!”, to the fleeting thought of running them down, and everything in between. And when it happens, and it definitely will, it is critical to remember that the goal of any forthcoming action (or inaction) should always be reconciliation and restoration. “If your brother wrongs you, go and show him his fault, between you and him privately. If he listens to you, you have won back your brother.” – Matthew 18:15. The “conventional” ways of the world lead to destruction, but the Word of God brings restoration and life.
“In the End, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.” (4)
1) Walter Winchell, 2) Donna Roberts, 3) Thomas J. Watson, 4) Martin Luther King Jr.