We need people around us who take care of us, love us, criticize us, and push us so that we would grow beyond ourselves.
There are relationships that we can’t pick and choose, for example your biological parents. They will always be your parents if you want it or not. Your boss, colleagues, the principal of the university, are all people you can’t really choose. You "have to" live with them, unless you change your job or club every single time you don’t like a person.
The foundation of friendship is freedom. You have the freedom to choose people to share your hobbies, your dreams, worries and your life with. You can decide for yourself with whom you want to build a community around you. You can decide whom you want to consider as your friend, who you want to actually CALL your friend.
I want to ask you some questions about your friendships, the people you share not just your time, but also your life with.
What does the community look like which you have built around you?
How do you spend your time together?
What does friendship mean to you?
What, for you, defines a real friendship? How do you identify it as such?
Are there only superficial conversations in which you only talk big, party through the weekends, and go out into town? However, when it comes to the day to day, the everyday life you have no foundation to be real?
Are your friendships healthy and good for you?
Do you have friends with whom you can honestly share about what is going on in your life, the deep things, the honest heart to heart?
Can you be real and think out loud in front of your friends?
Do you have to earn their approval or preform to be recognized?
Do the people you call friends lift you up, or are you afraid that your "friends" talk bad about you as soon as you leave the room?
We should never stop asking ourselves questions like these. Because we are taking on words, values, gestures, ways of life of the people with whom we spend a lot of time, often subconsciously.
If your environment swears a lot, talks lewdly, lies, blasphemes, it affects you.
If your friends stand up for other people, to take care of other people, it affects you.
If a friend is constantly depressed and negative, it will also affect you in the long run.
When a friend is hopeful and goes through life joyfully, it will affect your perspective.
All this does affect you, because you usually spend a lot of time with these people, and these people called friends, do have some authority in your life, they do speak into your life – and it can be good and- or bad.
So, who continues to shape whom? Do you shape them or they you?
If you're thinking right now that you are alone and have no friends, I want to tell you that God has not forgotten you. Everything can change. Everything will change if you have faith, and do the things that are in your power, and entrust the rest to God so that He will and can take care!
A few years ago, I had no friends, no real friends. I often wept bitterly because I wished for a friend that would be close to my heart, someone who would walk and dance through life with me. A friend who would simply accept me, one I could laugh and cry with. I can still remember the many times I did lay in my bed and prayed to God that he would please give me a female friend.
A real friend.
A best friend.
A bosom friend.
This friend was not in my life ‘via the push of a button’, what we so often expect when we pray. But God knows better, he knows what we need and when we need it. He often wants to teach us in times like these lessons we can draw from for a lifetime. I've learned to watch people around me more closely. Who are actually the people around me? How do they talk? What values do they live out and live for? What kind of a lifestyle do they live? What does spending time with those people make me feel while I am with them? How do I feel when I get home after spending time with them?
After I had to ask myself some of these questions honestly, I did make the decision to end, or allow to let, some my few friendships terminate. I started to realize for myself that some people are just not good for me. Then I stood there quite alone. I was left with many ‘acquaintances’, but no real friends that I could call if I really needed someone.
Do you know this feeling? Do you know what I am talking about?
Maybe you have known deep in your heart that the people you surround yourself with, whom you call friends, are basically no real friends. That you actually would want other people around you –that there is a longing in you, for something else and that you define friendship differently than they do. Maybe you think you'll never get away from this group of friends. You have thoughts like "I will never find friends, I have been in my old environment too long, I will never get to know new people, etc." - Then I want to encourage you- step out and do three things.
First, be brave, talk to God and tell him that you long for true friends, that he should bring people in your life. And then stay patient, keep in mind firmly that God is a faithful God, and He wants your best.
Second, be active. Think about what kinds of things inspire you, what you do well - become creative - take a course, do sports, start a new hobby, or an old one which you have given up for some reason many years ago. Become part of a sports club, youth group, home group, community - something that you enjoy!
And third, make conscious, wise decisions. I had to learn to say "No" and I am still learning. There are days I can do certain things with friends that have a different worldview, but it might be the next week where they would do the same but I can’t. What does that mean? And how can this be?
Now, on some days, I am not in a great “shape” or call it condition. For example, I love to go out and dance in a club. But before I go there, I need to know that my heart is actually in good condition. I have to question myself about what my motives are. If I simply want to dance in a setting that is healthy, then I can go. But if I already struggle with inferiority, long for recognition of men, or am in a state of frustration that I am single, then there are certain people I should not go out with. For one thing, I would not dance with pure motives. I would not dance for myself, but for the men around me who look at me with hungry eyes. Secondly, I have friends who think it is totally cool and good to do so. They would even encourage me in it, saying, "Hey, there is nothing bad about it. You just long for someone, so what's the big deal. Just try to simply have fun..." I know that for myself this would encourage me, cheer me on to do things that if I would act on them, I would regret afterwards. And I know it might be just a few of these words- if I don’t stand firm and am struggling already, it would lead me off my path easily.
I need friends who really know me and know who I really am.
I have friends who have called me back, took me aside and asked, "What are you doing? Why are you talking like that? Why are you acting like this? Why are you flirting with this guy that you really do not want? " These friends call me back, help me remember who I am and of the things that I desire- that I actually would want to be a woman who knows where she belongs and acts according to that.
I have friends with whom I do enjoy certain things in life, and only share certain things, but I also have friends with whom I could share everything, and could be anywhere in the world, and would know that I am safe ... Why? Because they know who I am, what my values and goals in life are. And they remind me to stay on this journey and if I forget or even rebel against it.
Gradually, people have come into my life, that have made my life so much more livable and colorful. Today I have a lot of friends – female friends – that I can now call myself "rich". There are friendships, which last beyond, misunderstandings, disputes, oceans, and time zones.
I have friends where I can simply be myself, laugh, cry, scream, and let go. Where I also must be real! At times it is hard, disappointing, and it hurts. These friendships often challenge me and cost me something. For everything that is precious- has its price. And the price I pay is to be vulnerable, trust anew, ask for forgiveness and forgive again, and fight for my friends.
Today I can say that I am "rich" on friendships!
I wish for you friends like this!
Friends that influence your life, in ways so that you can grow into the person you are meant and created to be!
God is faithful. He hears yours and my prayers. He does set the sky in motion when we call out to him.
No matter how young or old you are, no matter what your life looks like, you and I, we need friends who believe in us. Remind us who we are, when we forget it because life isn’t always good to us. People, who hold us up when we are tired, cheer us on when we want to give up on. Friends, who remind us of our dreams and goals, when we are lost.
I can say, in my opinion, there is much truth to the saying "Show me who your friends are and I'll tell you who you are".
Choose your friendships wisely.
Choose people, who are good for you, who pick you up, hold you, lift you up, and truly stand with you.
Be a friend to people around you. Invest in those who are around you by spending time with them and listening.
Which "friendship" should you reconsider or maybe quit?
Is there anyone you wanted to call or contact for maybe weeks, months, or even years again?
To whom can you be a friend today?