You can pretty much ask anyone that I am close too how much I enjoy making new friends, and you’ll get some kind of laugh or sarcastic reply. Ever since I was a kid, I was more introverted, and I am really comfortable being alone. It’s not that I don’t enjoy having a ton of friends, but I have always felt like I was content on the amount of friends I have.
I’ve recently had a couple of conversations about how the close friends I do have are really solid, and I cannot imagine my life without them. On the other hand, I have had friendships over the years that seemed sincere, but weren’t true. After listening to my mom, the original BFF, talk about her pastor sharing on how Jesus asked Lazarus’ friends to unbind him after he was brought back to life (John 11:44), I was reminded how important it is for us to have friends and to BE friends who build each other up.
I read Proverbs 17:17, and it talks about a friend loving at all times, and how a brother is born for adversity. Loves in ALL times. That is what we should look for. Friends who will be there not just to celebrate, but to encourage you when you are suffering. Friends who can tell when you need a hug(not that I want people to hug me), and can give you advice when you need it.
The first part of Proverbs 18:24 talks about how someone who has a lot of companions can come to ruin. I think that a lot of people confuse how important having a lot of friends and how good your friends are. I remember my mom always telling me to “make a new friend” on the first day of school (even as a 21-year-old on my 6th semester of college. This is not something that comes easy. Small talk seems rehearsed, and I always forget people’s names, and then I’m too awkward to ask after our first encounter. Every once in a while, I seem to have some success on meeting a new person, but it always ends up with me staying with the same reliable friends that I have known forever (I’m talking to you, Suhu). In my own life, I can count my closest friends probably on my fingers (Honestly, I have no idea how I have that many, so thanks guys for being there!). It can be discouraging seeing people who have a line of people waiting to hang out with them, but how much time do they have to spend with each one individually. The time I have spent with my friends alone is so much more valuable to me than barely seeing any of my friends because I have so many people to spread my time with. Getting this one-on-one time allows for deeper roots to take hold and grow lasting relationships, and each time we get together just adds to our friendship.
Again in Proverbs 18:24, it says that there is “a friend who sticks closer than a brother.” Thankfully, I have friends in my brother and sisters, but I have also seen family members who don’t have relationships outside of their blood being shared, while people who aren’t “family” come take the place out because they are loving friends! These people who show their love for my family have no idea how much they have impacted our lives, and I praise God for allowing them to be in our lives.
The guidance from these verse all point to how to choose your friends. Find friends who you can trust with your heart, and who encourage you to do better. Find people who you can laugh with and will listen to your struggles. I can tell you that it is so hard to find someone who you feel you can be transparent with, and will actually care about what you’re going through.
They also show you how to be a friend. Love your friends all the time. Even when they are hangry or sobbing on your shoulder, choose to forgive and have compassion. Stick close to them. This can be hard because everyone is always busy, but make an effort to spend time wwith your friends. Take up for them, protect them, and encourage them. Be a friend that always builds up.