Tuesday, December 25, 2012
In my opinion it seems a lot of relationships are doomed to fail because of the unbalanced weight in the scales. The weights are not level, and so the scale is bound to tip...
It seems lately I've been thinking a lot about relationships, 'friendships' especially...and what makes a true friend and a good friendship...Here are some of my thoughts on the topic.
The Question: What makes a good friend/friendship?
* Good Communication.
I know, we've all heard this one before. But, it's more true that you can imagine. The results of 'bad communication' are 'secrets', 'offenses', 'assumptions', 'accusations', and 'depression'. Seriously, communication is the most important ingredient in making any relationship 'work'. Almost anything is possible to go wrong, if you and your friend can't communicate. For example;
You "think" you overhear your friend in a conversation to someone else and say something rude about you...'Bad communication' 'assumes' the very worst; your friend is wicked, she hates you, etc etc. 'Good communication' goes and asks your friend "Did you say this about me?" The law remains: 'Innocent until proved guilty', if you always believe the worst of your good friends, it just goes to show that you don't truly 'trust' them or 'know' them. Good communication knows how to speak it's mind, humbly but honestly. Without that honesty in a relationship there cannot be 'trust'. Without 'trust' in a relationship there is lot of 'doubt'. If you cannot 'trust' your friend, there isn't a friendship at all...
Without honesty in a relationship, there is confusion. A friend can't really be your friend if he or she 'doesn't know you for who you are'.
You would be surprised how much of your actions are truly ruled by 'selfishness' and not love in your relationships. Do you make friends and do you have friends just for what they give to you? Perhaps you have friends so you can just vent to them? Perhaps you just have friends in order to be liked? Or do you have friends because you truly care about them?
The true measure of love is how much you are willing to give without getting anything in return. Of course there is a balance...Christ is our greatest example of a 'true and loving friend'. He laid down his life for people that did not all treat him right. Even his close friends betrayed him, and made mistakes..."No greater love has a man than this, that he lay down his life for his friends" John 15:13
Jesus said that. Yet, he also says "We are His friends if we obey Him". So as Christians, although we should love even the unlovable, even Christ was not 'close friends' with those who did not 'love him'...
I say this because, there are certain circumstances where you may be the only selfless friend...in that case, to not 'expect' true friendship from the other person involved or else your heart will be broken. There are certain relationships where the other person is an abuser because all they care about is 'getting' and 'having a friend' and don't truly 'love' you.
A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born from adversity. ~ Proverbs 17:17
People let people down. It's a hard fact to swallow, but it's true. We all make mistakes, and we all fail and falter, because we live in a fallen world...and without constantly living in the example of Christ, we do from time to time show our sinful nature. Knowing this, you should already be antiquated with the act of forgiveness. In order to have a lasting friendship, you are going to have to be willing to forgive. Christ forgave you your sins, you must be willing to forgive others their sins.
For if you forgive me their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses. ~ Matthew 6: 14-15
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God. - Matthew 5:9
Make every effort to live in peace with all men. - Hebrews 12:14
Let us therefore follow after the things which make for peace, and things wherewith one may edify another. - Romans 14:19
Let us be the first to give a a friendly sign, to nod first, smile first, speak first, and - of such a thing is necessary - forgive first. - author unknown
Yes, it may seem obvious that in order to be a 'friend' you must show yourself 'friendly'...But, this is one area of relationships that many people fail in. They expect people to be friendly to them, and yet they are not friendly themselves. Be the first to smile, the first to say hello, the first to ask how another is doing. You will not only make many friends, but keep your friends. The man who acts friendly one day, and then unenthusiastic the next is in danger of confusing his friends about his/hers feelings for them. You would be shocked at how much this simple truth comes into play. Friendship hinges on 'continuity' and 'consistency'.
People cannot tell if you are genuinely 'interested in them' if you just expect them to 'know' and don't 'show it'. You could wake up one day and wonder why 'so and so' is not so close a friend to you, but it's really because you didn't 'invest in them' or 'give them your attention'.
I'm not saying to be phony, only to try to put your best foot forward. We all have bad days, but you will not make friends or build up your relationships by being 'moody'. You will not attract true friends if all you do is whine and wear a sour expression. Many people have given the wrong impression to others about their interest in forming a friendship because of their lack of 'friendliness'.
A man that has friends, must show himself friendly; and there is a friend that sticks closer than a brother. ~ Proverbs 18:24
You must respect your friends. A true friend respects your opinions, your feelings, and your beliefs...he does not worship his own opinions, feelings, beliefs, and hold them above his relationships. How can there be a honest and true friendship if a person cannot feel safe? Friends feel safe when they know that their opinions, feelings, and beliefs are respected. There cannot be a 'close friendship' between two people where a friend fears their "friend" will 'bash' his or hers opinions over his head, and 'down' theirs. In a relationship you cannot make the other person 'hide themselves' by always being so ' ungracefully opinionated'. Shut up for a moment and take the time to listen to what your friend likes, and not always talk so forcefully about what you 'do' and 'don't' like to the point that your friend cannot have their own opinions.
So many people cannot be good friends because they lack 'understanding' or the willingness to 'forsake their own opinions' and truly 'understand'. People want to be 'understood', they don't want to enter into a relationship where the other person 'assumes' everything about them...they want to be 'heard' and they want to be 'known' for who they 'really' are...and that's not going to happen in a friendship where one person plays the 'know it all'.
A true friend 'listens' to their friend. Not because they 'have to', but because they 'want to'. You will make and keep more friends by truly 'listening to them' than anything else. And when there are no words, you can still 'listen' by 'observing actions' and 'hearing the unspoken words of the heart'. Care and know your friends well enough that you recognize when they need a word of encouragement, or just a hug. Be there for your friends, without them ever having to 'ask you'.
Seek to be 'understanding' of them and what they are going through. Don't hold grudges, or be quick to judge...always be quick to truly 'understand'. In friendship you must put your own opinions behind you; in other words, lean not on your own opinions, but seek to truly 'understand'. Ask your friends questions.
The language of friendship is not in words, but in meanings. - Henry David Threau
*Giving and Receiving
A lot of friendships fade because neither is willing to 'give', or someone is afraid to 'receive'. Friendship, and any good relationships is made up of 'giving' and 'receiving'. Give without expecting anything in return, but be willing to 'receive' what you are given. If you are afraid of love, if you are afraid to receive...it's going to show in your friendship, and cause strain. If you are selfish and not willing to give, or afraid to give 'it also' is going to show and cause strain. Generosity is an expression of love. People will see your love from them in your eagerness to give to them...whether that be 'your time', or even in a 'hand made gift'.
A friend can feel it when you are stingy, and the message that come across is, "I'm not willing to give to you, because my 'time', 'money' etc...means more to me than you do".
But it hurts just as much, when a person gives 'their time', 'other gifts' etc...and the person they give to, doesn't 'receive' them with gratitude and understanding. Because when a friend gives, what they are really saying is "I love you. And here is a token of my love."
And when you ignore their counsel, take for granted their gifts, and trample on their offers of time...what you're really doing is trampling on their expressions of their love for you. And as crazy as it may seem, when you do that, you're ripping at the threads in the fabric of the friendship.
Accept what people offer. Drink their milkshakes. Take their love. - Wally Lamb
A true friendship is born from 'acceptance'. This doesn't mean you 'approve' of everything that the other person has done, or does...But it means that you 'accept' them/ love them even as they are. If you always put on an air that makes other people feel uncomfortable, most likely you aren't going to have many friends by your side. If you you are always saying things that are critical, or judging everybody...even if it's not always in words...people can tell by your expressions, and your body language whether or not you accept them or are always 'judging' them... and if you are, you most likely aren't going to have friends who will confide in you.
True friends feel 'safe' around each other, they feel it "shelter" to talk to each other.
"A faithful friend is a sturdy shelter: he who finds one finds a treasure." - Sirach 6:14
Between loving friends there need be no secrets...the trusting heart is always safe with another who truly cares! - Joan Walsh Anglund
Oh, the comfort - the inexpressible comfort of feeling safe with a person- having neither to weigh thoughts nor measure words, but pouring them all right out, just as they are, chaff and grain together; certain that a faithful hand will take and sift them, keep what is worth keeping, and then with the breath of kindness blow the rest away. - Dinah Maria Mulock Craik
Of course, this also means that a true friend loves his friend enough to help him in 'self betterment'. A true friend encourages his friend to do better, and cheers him on to climb out of the pits he falls into...all because he wants his friend to succeed, and stand on the mountain top.
A true friend offers Godly counsel...What can really hurt a good friend though, is when you take their counsel for-granted and/or ignore it. People vary in 'love languages', but the honest counsel of a good friend proves just how much they care about you, and it should never be taken lightly.
Be sure to listen to those who love you, know you, and most importantly love God. You will find that a good friend only says what they hope will build you up and give you hope for your future.
A wise friend that loves you much, may give you counsel or advice that is hard to hear...but it a true friend who thinks of your better well fair, and is willing to do hard things, just to protect you and encourage you to stay on the right track and pursue holiness.
True friends are honest with eachother.
Oil and perfume make the heart glad, and the sweetness of a friend comes from his earnest counsel. - Proverbs 27:9
* Recognizing the Fruit
You will know people by their fruit. No matter what they tell you, you will know them by not only what they 'do' but what they 'reap'.
You shall know them by their fruit. Do men gather grapes from thorns, or figs from thistles? Matthew 7:16
You will know a "true friend" by how they treat you. But not only 'how' they treat you, but what sort of fruit they reap from their actions. You also, will be able to tell if you are a 'true friend' to others by the sort of fruit you reap in your friendships. Is there always misunderstandings? Is there constantly fighting? Why is their so much strain?
Love reaps the most beautiful fruit. Water a person with kindness, and shine encouragement in their life and you will see a friendship bloom.
What kind of fruits are your friendships producing? Depression? Anger? Worldliness? Sin?
If so, you should reconsider what sort of people you are hanging out with, and what sort of person you are. A good friend can truly bring out the best in you, but a bad friend or even an 'enabling' friend can cause you to become worse for it. Sometimes, it's not that the people you "thought" were your 'friends' that are 'bad people', it's possible that they just aren't mature enough to be a 'good friend', or just don't know what it means to be a "true friend". Talk with them about how you feel. Remember a real friendship is one that involves 'trust', ' good communication', 'honestly', 'love', 'forgiveness', 'generosity', 'friendliness', and 'respect' from both sides/people. If you cannot talk to your friend about 'how you feel', most likely you are not as 'close' a friend to them as you imagined.
A real friend helps us think our best thoughts, do our noblest deeds, be our finest selves. - author unknown
Hopefully this blog post has given you some insight into the world of 'friendship'. Friendship is a beautiful thing, and a 'faithful friend' is a gift from God! I pray whoever reads this may be blessed with at least one 'good friend' that will shine the love of Christ in their life.
But also I hope that this post will encourage you to be a 'true friend', and a 'sturdy shelter' to those who cross your paths. May you shine the love of Jesus and make a difference in this dark world where many are 'unfaithful'. Put others and their cares before your own and do unto others as you would have them do unto you. What kind of friend would Jesus be? What kind of friend is He?
Let us follow His example, and love with all our hearts. May we wash the feet of our friends, and may they know just how much we care about them.
Posted by Purpose Proposed at 4:23 PM