Yesterday Susanne and I spent a few hours with three couples. It was nice to reconnect and reminisce and, of course, laugh. As an adult, I had a head start with making friends. I was a pastor and therefore had a congregation full of people who were friends. As a newly retired person living in places for the first time, we are discovering that you must work on friend-making diligently. All of this has gotten me thinking about friends and friendship, and as expected, here are a few of my observations:
- Friends add color and texture to life. Much of I have learned and observed is a result of friendships.
- Relationships work, and they are work. Relationships have to be cultivated and developed.
- Relationships are valuable. I believe the writer of Ecclesiastes says it best:”If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up.” (Ecclesiastes 4:10) A friend is there to help, console, challenge, pray with you, and help dry your tears. It is asserted that isolation is not healthy; relationships are like medicine or a salve for the bruises of life.
- If you want friends, you have to be a friend! One will never find friends at home wishing you had more friends. The best way to have friends is to get out and do something for someone today. Find someone you can cheer up and encourage. Do not wait for others to offer this for you, begin helping others and you will find that friends magically appear.
- If your friend always agrees with you, they may not really be your friend! “Oil and perfume make the heart glad, and the sweetness of a friend comes from his earnest counsel.” (Proverbs 27:9) I want my friends to tell or warn me if they see something I may not have considered. Friends help us work through decisions.
God created us for community. Whether an extrovert or an introvert, the need for friendship is still present. I remember the old song: “What a friend we have in Jesus.” It is accurate, and I am thankful for Jesus, and I am grateful for friends down through the years who have spoken into my life and have encouraged me along the way. They have made the journey sweeter and more enjoyable. Throughout my life, friends have come in and out of my life. There are some from years ago that I have completely lost track of, and there are friends from decades ago who I still see and hear from occasionally. I grieve over friends lost, either through the passing of time or disagreements. As I reflect on my life, I want to be a better friend and make new friends this year. In an unfriendly world, I want to be a friend. I not only want to be a friend, I also need friends!
The friendship challenge is this: Is there someone from years ago with whom I need to reconnect? Will I be sensitive to someone around me who needs a friend? Let us ask God to make us sensitive to those around us who need encouragement, counsel, and support. Friends with whom we can learn, love, and laugh together. If you have read this far, you are indeed a friend! Have a great and blessed week. And remember, “friends are friends forever.”