What Makes a Good Friend?

There are many situations leading up to this post. First, one of my friends asked me a couple days ago what I thought made a good friend. Later that day my small group bible study leader told what he thinks relationship is. Then yesterday a blogger friend wrote about one of her best friends, and how much that friendship means to her. And finally, last night a friend of mine called and in our 2-hour conversation that lasted until midnight we talked about what friendship is and what it means to each of us. So I’ve really been thinking about this topic a lot lately… here’s what I came up with.

Initially I think (and agree with C. S. Lewis) that friendship is born by two people who meet and find out they have something in common. That common interest, goal, lifestyle, personality trait, etc. is what keeps the tie… because without common ground where’s the place to meet… where’s the understanding? “Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another:  ‘What! You too? I thought I was the only one.’” – C. S. Lewis Ever had that moment? It’s delicious!

I think what makes a good friend once the friendship’s born is basically someone who cares about another person and gives that other person good reason to trust him/her.

To have a good friendship:

  • Two people need to communicate, because there can be no deepening or close relationship between two people who don’t communicate.
  • Each person in the friendship needs to attentively listen to what the other has to say, and then respond in a caring way.
  • Each person in the friendship needs to trustfully and honestly share what’s on his/her own heart.
  • Each friend needs to be intentional about the friendship. One could ask to meet with his/her friend to do something together that his/her friend enjoys, or just to have time to talk (if the friend’s love language is quality time). It makes the invited feel special, important, and cared for.

If neither person ever goes out of his/her way to do something with or communicate with his/her friend, then the friendship will die (or hardly remain)… it would lose its intimacy and turn into acquaintanceship.

More friendship quotes I like:

“Do you know what friendship is… it is to be brother and sister; two souls which touch without mingling, two fingers on one hand.” — Victor Hugo

Sometimes I feel like this quote is true by L. M. Montgomery: “Oh, sometimes I think it is of no use to make friends. They only go out of your life after awhile and leave a hurt that is worse than the emptiness before they came.” That’s a selfish thought though and I agree more with this other quote by her …I’m so thankful for friendship. It beautifies life so much.” (And no, she’s not this contradictory… these two quotes are from a novel she wrote.)

“Friendship is unnecessary, like philosophy, like art… It has no survival value; rather it is one of those things that give value to survival.” – C. S. Lewis

“Be courteous to all, but intimate with few, and let those few be well tried before you give them your confidence. True friendship is a plant of slow growth, and must undergo and withstand the shocks of adversity before it is entitled to the appellation.” –George Washington

“Be slow to fall into friendship, but when you are in, continue firm and constant.”  –Socrates

“’We’ll be friends forever, won’t we, Pooh?’ asked Piglet. ‘Even longer,’ Pooh answered.”  –A.A. Milne, Winnie the Pooh (Yesterday Miss Elaini wrote about one of her best friends, and quoted Winnie the Pooh too!)

I tell myself these things about friendship, and I believe them, and I know how wonderful friendship can be, but when I’ve been hurt it makes it hard to trust again. When one person continually hurts me, and I have chosen several times to let him/her earn my trust back, but then he/she hurts me again (maybe not purposefully, but maybe through indifference, or neglect from a busy schedule) it feels nearly impossible to let them in again. Or simply wanting them to earn my trust back… wanting them to care to have it… when he/she doesn’t care to be my friend can be very painful. Have you ever longed to be friends with someone who just doesn’t care much to know you? It’s hard to let go of them, and let go of your hopes of having them in your life. I do eventually let them go though, because I care deeply for them. I want them to live their own life and to have what’s best for them, more than what I want for myself. Realizing this, and caring for a couple friends this much the last few years, has taught me a lot about selfless love, patience and sacrifice.

Last weekend I felt very alone. When I’m down and discouraged I usually get through work weeks alright because I stay busy, but when the weekend rolls around and I have time on my hands, I spiral down into a dark place. In some ways I’ve lost a few of my closest friends in the past two weeks, and I didn’t know how to deal with it. So I didn’t. Bad idea. Then all my emotions came out in a pile on Sunday with my mom after I’d become depressed and cranky. It was good to tell her how I felt… to let someone know. Even though it gave no excuse to my bad behavior that weekend, it at least gave some understanding and helped me move on. This week I’ve been encouraged by several friends, and reminded of truth about God and myself. I’ve really felt like God is with me, watching out for me, and that he cares about me.

I’m thankful for the friends I have! They are precious to me and I want to be a good friend to them like they’ve been for me.

Does anyone have additional thoughts about what friendship is?

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