Saturday, July 10, 2010

About: True Friendship

This is an issue that has been weighing heavily on my heart for the past few months and I thought I'd share it with you...
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I have 276 "friends" on facebook... and that's after deleting 184 more "friends".
It's such a broad term in our culture today.
I have several acquaintances. Hundreds to be semi-exactish... eGAD!
And I have few true friends...
"A man of many companions may come to ruin,
but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother."
-Proverbs 18:24
(This info's a small rabbit trail from the point of this post, but found it interesting.)
. . . .

God places godly Christian friends in our life to encourage, love, exhort, and sometimes even chastise. Proverbs 27:5-6 says, "Open rebuke is better than secret love. Faithful are the wounds of a friend; but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful." I know it's such a hard thing to hear... especially living in our "me-pleasing" society nowadays, but just think on it: "God did give me friends to help me grow, even if that means by correcting a flaw they see in me. If they're true friends, they're not 'out to get me.'"

But... a person can have so many "friends!" How do you know which are the "true" friends? Well, have you ever heard the expression, "Actions speak louder than words?" Most of you will say yes :) I think you know what I'm driving at here... A true friend will act like one!
"A man that has friends must show himself friendly: and there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother." -Prov 18:24

True friends really are hard to come by. In today's shallow and superficial world, you can be "friends" with someone today and when it's not convenient for you anymore, just drop the relationship cold turkey. People can not speak to some of their dearest friends ever again and not be affected in the least. This saddens me, actually.

As sinful humans, we are offended easily, which makes the above stated actions very easy. Once people have become offended, it seems at times that there is no reasoning with them. In Proverbs 18:19a, the author writes that, "A brother offended is harder to be won than a strong city." As Christians, however; we are called to be the antithesis to this. Jesus Himself said, “Moreover if your brother sins against you [offends you], go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he hears you, you have gained your brother." Matthew 18:15

Now... I'm not saying that I'm perfect and do this all the time... infact, I do believe that I sorely lack in the area of "going to one's brother." (With God's help though, I'm learning to talk about things more freely.) What I am saying, is that this is something all Christians are called to do... I'm preaching to myself as well as all readers. :)

Merriam Webster defines "friend" as such: [italics mine]
1a: one attached to another by affection or esteem b: acquaintance
2a: one that is not hostile b: one that is of the same nation, party, or group
3: one that favors or promotes something (as a charity)
4: a favored companion

I also ran a poll-type thing on facebook and asked people:
How would YOU describe true friendship?"
And here are the responses I got...
Cindi H said, "
hmm I'd say true friendship key qualities include honesty, definitely honesty, silliness, forgiveness, and the ability to be yourselves."
Obed A said, "A true friend gives the other person what they need the most, even when they deserve it the least. Being a friend is about giving unconditionally."
Robert S said, "A friend makes a boring class fun.!!!" <-- this one made me laugh :)
Jeff G said, "I would say that friendship in it's truest sense would have the characteristics of I Cor. 13. I would even say that True friendship is rare."
John S said, "It takes two "true" friends to make a "true" friendship :) A true friend is a committed one, a caring one, and an accountable one."
Timothy B said (via gmail), "I guess a true friend would be someone who is honest first and foremost and one who is always there for you whenever they can be."

Here are quite a few "friendship" quotes that I've found:

<---- (current fb profile picture)

"Some friends come and go like a season. Others are arranged in our lives for good reason."
-Sharita Gadison

"All changes, even the most longed for, have their melancholy; for what we leave behind us is a part of ourselves. We must die to one life before we can enter another."
-Anatole France

"A true friend is someone you can disagree with and still remain friends. For if not, they weren't true friends in the first place."
-Sandy Ratliff

"True friendship is based on trust, honesty and sincere generosity of our hearts."
---Song Park

A true friend unbosoms freely, advises justly, assists readily, adventures boldly, takes all patiently, defends courageously, and continues a friend unchangeably.

-William Penn

**Also, my friend Zach Smith wrote a very helpful post on "Love and Forgiveness"... please go check it out! It was a great encouragement to me and I pray it will be to you as well :)

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Now... this is all food for thought... please take the time to carefully consider this post. . .

Let me know what you think. . .


Sharon Smily Zachary said...

Emmy, I am so thankful to see that I am still a friend on facebook. ;-P Anyway, I will be taking what you said to heart. I am VERY thankful to have you as a friend! I love you so much!!

Laura {{* *}} said...

A mighty bold undertaking
Miss Emily!

Through 40 something years of
I must say it is those friends
that adhered to what you have
laid out so declaritively here,
that have made a difference in my life,
and made the journey of friendship
deeply sweet. ♥

Isn't the process of refining & resolving
what it truly means to walk with one another?
We can't smell the flowers in our garden
unless we're willing to
pluck the weeds & prune the bush.

I love that you "get it".
I love that God gives us each other for this very purpose.
Maturity looks beautiful on you.

{{* *}}

Anonymous said...

Dearest 'Second' Daughter <3

I know you have been thinking and praying about this blog post for a long time – examining what to ask for and give in true friendship. We've continued our lifetime discussions about what it means to be a true friend...using Scripture as our Counsel.

'A friend sticketh closer than a brother' and 'the wounds of a friend are better than the kisses of an enemy'. We've experienced the rewards of obeying "brother offended" exhortations commanded in Scripture.

Honest communication is one of the necessary components in true friendships and honesty must be tempered by great love. Sometimes we have failed at one or more components in this equation! I am so thankful to God that He has enabled us to forgive each other and persevere in relationship building.

We human beings have so many “blind spots” - the Lord is constantly revealing mine to me would be arrogant of me to refuse to consider a friend's input into my life - how I dearly cherish those few friends who love enough to challenge me in sinful or immature areas which need to be examined...and stick with me through the hard work it takes to grow...

True forgiveness is about humility...remembering that 'except for the Lord, there go I'...It is only by God's grace that we even know truth, for without our Lord compelling us to come, we would be wandering around in complete darkness. As our example, I am so thankful He never seeks to punish in any way after we've asked for forgiveness, but restores completely and lovingly continues on with us... Oh, to be more like is the cry of my heart!

Thank you for the hard work of prayer, time, and effort you put into this timely blog post. It is always time to remember what constitutes TRUE friendship...especially in this period of our culture when "friends" are believed to be made by the click of a ‘friend’ button! We have an Internet fad going on that is diminishing and minimizing the meaning of true friendship! (I will say, though, that used judiciously, the Internet can be a great relationship-building tool. Unfortunately, it can also be used to tear down...we have to be so very careful before we post comments – self included, here.)

Friendship takes time to build; hours spent actually being together, putting effort into wanting to know what is in the other person's heart. It is also about sharing, being hospitable, opening yourself up to the potential of being hurt - we human beings are not perfect by any means. Friendship takes commitment and in my book, true friendships are worth every bit of the effort it takes to maintain them. They are worth pursuing.

You and I are at a transition time in our relationship, aren't we? I will always be your 'ever-lovin' mother and you my ever-lovin' daughter, but we are also at that point where Friendship is becoming more the point of who we are together.

Mothers become more like mentors and confidants as their children mature as adults, and we mothers learn to appreciate the input of our adult children so very much! We realize that our relationships continue to blossom in terms of mutual edification in these 'blind spots' I spoke of earlier~~ I love how you are growing in this area of being able to challenge and spur me on in maturity and righteousness...and oh, how I love that you accept me just as I am! How freeing to know that you always forgive and honor me at the same time. Always remember that this quality you have is a gift from God, inspired by the Holy Spirit! I thank God for you, Emily!

I need and appreciate my friendship with you, and I thank God every day for the gift He gave me when He placed you into our family!!! We will always be there for each other, no matter what! And we are blessed to have a few real friends we can never shake, too...hold true to them and us, dear sweet young woman!


Seasons of Life said...

In today's society the word "friend" is overused, just like love. When words are so freely used they lose their meaning.

Scripture always proves true and is our source for all knowledge:

~Psalm 1
~Proverbs 11:25
~Proverbs 12:26
~Proverbs 13:20
~Proverbs 16:28
~Proverbs 22:24
~Proverbs 17:12, 17, 19
~Ecclesiastes 4:9-12

Then you have so many New Testament refernces from Christ Himself about how to live as believers.

There is no end in Scripture when it comes to the truth of being a good friend...bottom line, be immitators of Christ. Is it not that light that draws us as believers? A daily pursuit for each of us ~ we must first be a good friend and then what a blessing it is when the Lord gives us one!

Blessings & Smiles ~

Lauren Lee said...

So true, Emily!
I only have a few true friends.
They're amazing and such a blessing.

Zach S. said...

Hey Emily!

Sorry I missed you guys at the beach on Sunday :( We had just got back from Jacksonville for 3 days and didn't check email 'til 3:30PM

Anyway, thanks for linking to my post. In a way, I'm thankful to know that I'm not the only one going through this struggle.

Don't get me wrong...I don't want anyone to have to go through this too, because it hurts beyond belief. Sometimes though, you feel like you're the only one and you feel so alone, you know what I mean?

Thank you for your encouraging post; it has encouraged me to press on. That one quote on your profile pic really hit home for me personally. Just to have one friend that you could trust to tell anything and talk about things of life and of God without feeling ashamed of what they might think is big for me.

I don't want a thousand people that know my face, but a single one that knows more than my name-- that knows me and cares about me.

True friendship is kindof like marriage--it's for better or for worse. That's where love and forgiveness comes into play. The cross; the Christ--true friendship.

The ability to forgive your closest "disciples" when they abandon you. The ability to love your friends even when they put your friendship to the test and hammer emotional nails into your palms. And the ability to say through all that "Father, forgive them; they really don't know what they're doing."

Thank you Emily.

~ Zach S.

Obi said...

very truthful! keep up the good work!!! GODBLESS!!!

Gabe the fiddler said...

very well written, Emily. Honestly, I never grew up with many friends. Actually I didnt have a close friend, till maybe 2 years ago. somethin like that. But when I was in that state of "no friends" or,"man. lookat em, so many friends they got...they hang out, do all these stuff together"....Yeah i mighta needed some interaction, but the focus wasnt right. I love the quote by Katie Obenchain you put on the pic of your face. Thats what I needa hear, along with other kids our age. As of now, my friends are few. But, thank God, they are TRUE friends. thanks for posting!

Amanda Kaylon said...

I took the time to carefully consider the post, like you suggested, and I sorted through the various attributes I thought might or might not characterize a "true friend". I realized it is much easier for me to think of what "true friendship" is in terms of what kind of friend would suit me best, than it is for me to figure out the few aspects of friendship that apply or appeal to people of all personalities. I have to remember that the reality of "true friendship" is not dependent on my preferences—which things I would want a friend to talk about with me, or how I would want that friend to express their emotions, or respond to mine. I also have to remember that Jesus Christ didn’t just tell us what friendship was; he is the best and truest living example of it, as well. Personal preferences are fine in their own way, but if I’m really going to ask myself what "true" friendship means, and what it is all about, I have to watch and make sure that I’m not coming up with a list of requirements that Christ himself doesn’t fill.

Thank you for posting on this subject. I appreciated the "food for thought".