A true friend is always there for you and doesn’t abandon you in tough times – they are a stronghold in times of trouble. This is why they are rare precious gifts to nurture. We have many colleagues, acquaintances and people we like, but a real friend is in a different league. What is a real friend? How do we find them? How do we keep them? Do we have what it takes to be one? Do you have one?
- ‘The righteous choose their friends carefully, but the way of the wicked leads them astray’ – Proverbs 12:26
- ‘A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for a time of adversity’ – Proverbs 17:17
- ‘Do not make friends with a hot-tempered person, do not associate with one easily angered’ – Proverbs 22:24
- ‘Wounds from a friend can be trusted, but an enemy multiplies kisses’ – Proverbs 27:6
- ‘The essence of true friendship is to make allowance for another's little lapses’ – David Storey
It is a high calling, that of friendship. It has its demands but at heart it is reciprocal – ‘give and take’ is not a concept so much as a vital reality. The more we give, the more we gain; the more we take, the more we lose.
- ‘It is only the great hearted who can be true friends. The mean and cowardly can never know what true friendship means’ – Charles Kingsley
- ‘One of the most beautiful qualities of true friendship is to understand and to be understood’ – Lucius Seneca
- ‘I want my friend to miss me as long as I miss him’ – St Augustine
- ‘I have learned that friendship isn't about who you've known the longest, it's about who came and never left your side’ – Yolanda Hadid
- ‘I don't need a friend who changes when I change and who nods when I nod; my shadow does that much better’ – Plutarch
Distinguishing between the ‘genuine’ and the ‘counterfeit’ is essential when dealing with any precious commodity – diamonds, notes of currency, gold and that includes friendship. In a world where fraud, fake news and scams abound, to have a true friend is worth more than gold and to be a true friend is to endow a precious gift.
- ‘False friendship, like the ivy, decays and ruins the walls it embraces; but true friendship gives new life and animation to the object it supports’ – Richard Burton
- ‘My social media world is detached from my friendship world. I'll have friends in real life that I don't follow on social media, because I don't really look at social media as the way of connecting to friends. For me, social media is like a business tool’ – Ian Harding
- ‘Business, you know, may bring you money, but friendship hardly ever does’ – Jane Austen
- ‘True friendship can afford true knowledge. It does not depend on darkness and ignorance’ – Henry David Thoreau
- ‘Sustaining true friendship is a lot more challenging than we give it credit for’ – Mariella Frotsrup
Are you willing to take the risk and invest in friendships that count in the good times and the bad times? It’s all too easy to become overly cautious when opening yourself to friendship if you’ve been hurt or known grief of a lost or broken friendship. However, the wise pet owner will often get another one when the first one dies rather than choosing solitude to avoid future loss and pain. The best approach to gaining enduring and deep friendships is to take the risk.
- ‘The only way to have a friend is to be one’ – Ralph Waldo Emerson
- ‘The friendship that can cease has never been real’ – St Jerome
If you find that ‘real friendship’, you will know the incredible value, strength and joy it gives. ‘Friendship’ looks outward but ‘loneliness’ looks inward. When ‘friendship’ starts looking inward, it becomes jealous, envious, selfish and becomes destructive. When ‘loneliness’ starts looking outward, new horizons appear and doors can open.
- ‘Love is friendship that has caught fire. It is quiet understanding, mutual confidence, sharing and forgiving. It is loyalty through good and bad times. It settles for less than perfection and makes allowances for human weaknesses’ – Ann Launders
- ‘One loyal friend is worth ten thousand relatives’ – Euripides
- ‘The friend who can be silent with us in a moment of despair or confusion, who can stay with us in an hour of grief and bereavement, who can tolerate not knowing... not healing, not curing... that is a friend who cares’- Henri Nouwen
- ‘If you have one true friend, you’ve had more than your fair share’ – Thomas Fuller
We are made for companionship – God made provision for Adam and has done for each one of us. Sometimes, we need to have eyes opened to see those who would be the friends God is giving us and to have minds that truly appreciate those friends we already have. Friendship can be gained and be lost, it can grow and it can die, it can thrive and it can stagnate – yet it is an essential need for all of us if we are to be fulfilled.
- ‘Friendship has always belonged to the core of my spiritual journey’ – Henri Nouwen
- ‘I cannot even imagine where I would be today were it not for that handful of friends who have given me a heart full of joy. Let's face it, friends make life a lot more fun’ – Charlies R Swindoll
- ‘A friend is one who knows you and loves you just the same’ - Elbert Hubbard
- ‘Walking with a friend in the dark is better than walking alone in the light’ – Helen Keller
Was not the most wonderful model of friendship Jesus Christ himself? What if he’d never befriended us and become known as ‘a friend of sinners’? How important is this friendship to you? Do you nurture it and does it help you to model friendship within your sphere? Ultimately, friendship can be measured by sacrificial love. Most of us will not be called to lay down our lives for a friend but this can happen in the putting of others first, in the humility of word and action and in esteeming others more highly than we let off steam about ourselves! To be God’s friend, we must love our neighbours also – now there’s a ‘golden rule’!
- ‘Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends’ – John 15:13
- ‘You are my friends if you do what I command’ – John 15:14
- ‘And the scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness,” and he was called God’s friend’ – James 2:23
Know this; God does not abandon those he calls friends – he holds them, forever. How much more can we have confidence and joy that we have been called to be children of God, enjoying his friendship now and sharing it with others as we prepare to be with our loving heavenly Father for ever.
‘But you, dear friends, by building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in God’s love as you wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to bring you to eternal life’ – Jude 1:20-21
TAGS - friend, friendship, Nouwen, loneliness, love