Whether you are married or not, friendships can be a challenge, but they are vitally important to a healthy life. The reality is that we are created to be in relationship. That will never change. It seems that these days some people really struggle with true friendship. It may be because people are confused about what an actual "friend" is. Today, the meaning of the word "friend" can either be:
a person whom one knows and with whom one has a bond of mutual affection, typically exclusive of sexual or family relations.
adding (someone) to a list of contacts associated with a social networking website. (Really? That's a "friend"?)
I do believe that social media and smart phones are a blessing and curse for friendships. While they keep us in touch on a certain level, they don't allow for deep, personal friendship.
Maybe another reason people hesitate in true friendship is because they have been burned before and experienced pain in past friendships. I have found as I have ministered to many single adults that there are three areas of struggle in this area of intimate friendship:
Too fast too soon: Many romances end before a friendship is developed.
Different values: While values may determine the closeness (intimacy) of a relationship, they do not necessarily eliminate the possibility of friendship.
Lack of boundaries: Offensive behavior/abuse must be confronted with the goal of restoration. On-going offenses require distance/boundaries.
I want to give you a few things to consider that will hopefully help you in current or future friendships. Start by asking yourself, "Are there some boundaries or parameters I should have that determine whether someone can be my friend or not?" Let's find out what Scripture has to say on the matter.
"A man of many companions may come to ruin,
but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother." Proverbs 18:24 (NIV)
This scripture gives us two truths:
When one has numerous friends chosen indiscriminately, you may be "broken in pieces";
It is better to have a true friend ("one who loves") than many less reliable companions.
Consider these verses:
"A motive in the human heart is like deep water,
and a person who has understanding draws it out." Proverbs 20:5 (GW)
"Wounds from a friend can be trusted,
but an enemy multiplies kisses." Proverbs 27:6 (NIV)
"Discretion will protect you,
and understanding will guard you." Proverbs 2:11 (NIV)
These scriptures gives us three truths:
Sometimes we make judgments prematurely. The meaning, motives, and intentions of a person are not always what they appear to be based on their words.
Sometimes we have unspoken expectations of someone we should not. Our expectations burden others. Our relationships should grow from personal interaction not some mental relationship we have only in our minds.
Sometimes we are too vulnerable too soon. When we trust people with intimate thoughts or feelings too soon we risk being hurt. When we share intimate thoughts or feelings too soon we also risk freaking the listener out a bit.
The truth is that it takes time to build good, deep friendships, but it starts with discretion, realistic expectations, and good intentions and motives. If you are a single adult in the Sacramento area, I invite you to check out Bridges Sacramento, a community of single adults of all ages and stages who are interested in healthy friendships. Right now we are talking about Relational Intelligence. If you are interested in being in healthy community where friendships are more easily made, contact me at email@example.com to let me know you're coming. Life is Relationships and your greatest life is just ahead!
Pastor Michael Baggett
Finally, a safe place for single adults!
Bridges is where great friendships and healthy relationships with God and others happen. We meet on Thursday nights, 7:00 p.m. at Life Community Church in Roseville, CA. Come and connect with other single adults from the Sacramento area. What do you have to lose? Nothing! Just a whole lot to gain. Contact Michael Baggett at firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit www.BridgesSacramento.com to learn more. You can check out reviews on Facebook here.