”You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” “Tell me who your friends are, and I’ll tell you who you are.” “You become who you hang out with.” “If you want to see your future, look at your friends.” “When the character of a man is not clear to you, look at his friends” “You are who you are, by virtue of the company you keep.” Any of these sound familiar? Friendships are a crucial part of life, and the influence of friends on you is undeniable.
Friendship is First Loving Yourself
We should all aim to have a friendship like David and Jonathan. “Then Jonathan and David made a covenant, because he loved him as his own soul.” (1 Samuel 18:3) First, it’s important to note that they loved their own soul, and therefore were able to love each other with that same vigor. We should not be looking for someone else’s validation in a friendship. Before we chase love from others, we have to know our worth, and love ourselves first. We should not be looking to friends to fill the insecurities we have. Yes, they will encourage us and help us reach a better place, but getting rid of our insecurities is a journey between us and God.
If we fail to first love and invest in ourselves, we risk unknowingly placing a burden on our precious friends to fill that void for us, and this can be fatal to friendships. By knowing where we stand with God, we organically attract friends who are able to complement our beliefs, ambitions, and lifestyles.
Friendship is Built on Similar Values
Another common saying is “birds of a feather flock together.” This just means people who have the same interest and values tend to stick together. I can definitely attest to this in my life. I’ve had many friends throughout the years, but the one group of friends that I’ve kept for over 20 years are the ones I met in church. I’ve changed neighborhoods, schools, and even church parishes, but I’ve never changed my faith. Faith is an extremely strong tie that can withstand any time and place. So I hope you can find a God-loving group of friends that can help you stay on the right track. I’m not saying don’t have non-Christian friends; as long as they’re not a bad influence, have all the friends you want. You want friends to bring you closer to Christ (as you should also be doing for them), not further away from Him.
Friendship is Investing Both Ways
We’ve all had friends that make more withdrawals out of the friendship account than deposits. Some people require a lot of energy and attention, but don’t provide the same in return. Sometimes those friendships can leave us feeling drained. The seemingly Christian thing to do is to keep loving and giving, but I recognize we’re all human and might not always be able to handle the load. So maybe it might be time to cut back on the abundant giving, and don’t have such high expectations. I’m not saying cut them off, I’m just saying find a happy middle ground where you are both putting in the same effort into the friendship, that way there is no resentment or heavy feelings.
Friendship is Knowing What Load to Carry
“Do not be deceived: ‘Evil company corrupts good habits.’” (1 Corinthians 15:33). I’m cringing as I write this part, but the truth can be hard to face sometimes. There are times when friendships do more harm than good. I like to lean towards giving the other person the benefit of the doubt, and believing they have good intentions. But sometimes those intentions fail to show in their actions. If you find yourself in a friendship that is affecting you negatively, then it might be time to move on. I say this with caution, and urge you to consult your father of confession to seek guidance in the situation. I do not want you to stay in an unhealthy friendship (or any relationship) because you feel obligated to carry someone else’s load, when you can barely carry your own, and in fact, it is weighing you down.
Friendship is Edifying
Edifying friendships are the most beautiful friendships, and I pray you can all find them and keep them. My longest friendship started about 20 years ago, when I moved to America. Throughout the years we have journeyed together through middle school, high school, college, singleness, marriage, and now motherhood. We’ve leaned on each other countless times, always drawing strength from the Lord to give to each other. Our friendship was a two-way street of giving and taking. We’ve shared wonderful memories and hard ones too.
We’ve had our ups and downs, just like any normal friendship. We’ve had times where we didn’t see eye to eye, or misunderstood each other. But the one common thing that kept us together was our common love for God and each other, because “A friend loves at all times.” (Proverbs 17:17) In every situation we tried to see the best in the other person. We constantly communicated, even when the conversations were hard to have. When we found ourselves in uncomfortable situations, we stopped and tried to mend it. Not saying our friendship is perfect, but perfectly imperfect. And that's the beauty of it.
God gave us friends so we can lift each other up.
“Two are better than one,
Because they have a good reward for their labor.
For if they fall, one will lift up his companion.
But woe to him who is alone when he falls,
For he has no one to help him up.” (Ecclesiastes 4:9-10)
We can try to convince ourselves that we can go through life alone, but man, that can be super hard. Truth is, we need each other. The Bible says so, and even Christ sent out the apostles in groups of two.
If you are in a season in your life where you don’t have a strong friendship(s), then by all means ask God to send you a friend or two. Doesn’t He say, “Ask and it shall be given to you”? (Matthew 7:7) .
I pray that you can all have fruitful and edifying friendships that bring you closer to Him, as well as be a great friend that someone can depend on. We should all be holding each other's hands so we can help each other reach His.
“Ointment and perfume delight the heart,
And the sweetness of a man’s friend gives delight by hearty counsel.”