Friendship is a very comforting thing

Friendship, said Christopher Robin, is a very comforting thing to have.
~A.A. Milne.

There are few things that pull my heartstrings more than to think that there are those in this world who don’t ever experience the comfort of a friend. Sadly, there are many who live a life filled with acquaintances that never develop into friendships.

The bird a nest, the spider a web, man friendship.
~ William Blake

Like the bird that searches far and wide to find items to build a nest, we might have to go the distance to find friends. Sometimes friends live miles away and we will need to make opportunities to nurture those friendships. With modern technology and social networking, keeping up with long distance friends and building friendships is simply a keyboard away. Miles need not separate hearts bound together by bonds of love! Going the distance doesn’t just mean seeking friends across the miles. Sometimes it means that you have to work harder to get to know others and give more of yourself!

Like the spider that works tirelessly to build an intricate web, man must work to build friendships. Nothing as beautiful as friendship comes easy. We might have to knit together strings of camaraderie. Sometimes this is a challenge because we come in many shapes, sizes, and personalities! This might even mean opening up with hopes of building a friendship and having those attempts met with disinterest or even disdain. Yet, friendship is so precious that it is worth the effort and potential hurt! Making friends from acquaintances is just the beginning. Friendships need to be nurtured to flourish! This takes time and energy.

A bosom friend–an intimate friend, you know–a really kindred spirit to whom I can confide my inmost soul. I've dreamed of meeting her all my life. I never really supposed I would, but so many of my loveliest dreams have come true all at once that perhaps this one will too. Do you think it's possible?
~Anne of Green Gables (L.M. Montgomery)

Now when he had finished speaking to Saul, the soul of Jonathan was knit to the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul. Saul took him that day, and would not let him go home to his father’s house anymore. Then Jonathan and David made a covenant, because he loved him as his own soul. And Jonathan took off the robe that was on him and gave it to David, with his armor, even to his sword and his bow and his belt.
~ 1 Samuel 18:1-3

Sometimes certain kindredness between people may make friendship blossom easily. I can think of a few friends who – within minutes of our first meeting –I felt a surprising level of intimacy. This is a wonderful gift. However, not every friend will be a bosom friend. When we have this kind of likemindedness, this blessed kindredness, we ought to count ourselves blessed indeed! I often think that one bosom friend is worth a hundred acquaintances or a dozen friends!

Many of us, like Anne, seek this intimacy in friendship. If you want to find a bosom friend, you may have to seek far and wide. Yet sometimes it is right under your nose! For, many spouses find this intimate friendship in marriage. There is nothing more blessed on earth than a husband and wife relationship in which the spouses are the best of friends. It is obvious to most that great marriages must be built and nurtured.

Many do not understand that other friendships must also be built and nurtured. If you want to have a bosom friend, be a bosom friend. Treat your friends the way you want to be treated as a friend!

Two are better than one; because they have a good reward for their labour. For if they fall, the one will lift up his fellow: but woe to him that is alone when he falleth; for he hath not another to help him up. Again, if two lie together, then they have heat: but how can one be warm alone? And if one prevail against him, two shall withstand him; and a threefold cord is not quickly broken.
~ Ecclesiastes 4:9-12

A friend is one to whom one may pour out all the contents of one's heart, chaff and grain together, knowing that the gentlest of hands will take and sift it, keep what is worth keeping and with a breath of kindness blow the rest away.
~Arabian Proverb

It seems that we often want to experience the benefits of friendship without doing the necessary work to build! Friendship is worth the work. Think of the benefits: balance (physical and spiritual), perspective (seeing another viewpoint), encouragement, burden bearing, confessing faults, courage to overcome adversities.

For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same? And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? do not even the publicans so?
~Matthew 5:46-47

As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith.
~Galatians 6:10

Treat people as if they were what they ought to be and you help them to become what they are capable of being.

Loving those who are like us and who love us in return is the easy part. Making friends with those who are different from us is a challenge! When we don’t have an affinity we can build on things that all Christians have in common. We all suffer: Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour. Whom resist stedfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world. (1 Peter 5:8-9). We are all persecuted: All who live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution. ( 2 Timothy 3:12). Though our suffering is not always similar, though our persecution comes in different packages…we can share and bear others’ burdens!

You never lose by loving. You always lose by holding back. ~Barbara DeAngelis

Sometimes there are issues besides a lack of affinity that make building friendships a challenge! When I did an extensive friendship study with a huge group of moms several hurdles were mentioned repeatedly. I asked the ladies what kept them from building friendships. The answers were these: fear of rejection and judgment, difficulty reaching out (sometimes based on personality), insecurities of various forms, handicaps, complacency, oversensitivity (easily offended), cultural prejudices or discomforts, pride, laziness, generational gaps, family demands, financial limitations and general drama associated with many female relationships.

A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another. ~ John 13:34-35

Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another. No man hath seen God at any time. If we love one another, God dwelleth in us, and his love is perfected in us. Hereby know we that we dwell in him, and he in us, because he hath given us of his Spirit.~ 1 John 4:11 -13

If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen? And this commandment have we from him, That he who loveth God love his brother also.~ 1 John 4:20-21

We are commanded to love one another as God has loved us! We might not find intimate friendships with every attempt at friendship building, but we must look past our insecurities and personality issues and make ourselves friendly!

One of the easiest ways to make ourselves friendly and to build friendships is to open our homes to loved ones, acquaintances, and strangers alike! When we open our home to others it makes is much easier to open our hearts to them!

Friendship is within reach. Reach out and make yourself friendly and open your life to friendship-building: correct your own weaknesses, take your fears captive, seek help when you need it, remember the golden rule, give the benefit of the doubt, seek first to understand, seek to serve, love others the way they want to be loved (i.e. The 5 Love Languages), start with small gestures, find the best in others! Finally, remember that you have a constant line of communication and one friend that will never forsake you—Jesus Christ of Nazareth. Lean on Him as you make efforts to love others. Show your love for Him in your love for others!

Category: Musings  Tags: ,
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