Looking for a real friend

Faith-filled friends

In a few hours we'll be hosting 55 people at our annual Faith and Friendship Celebration so my mind is on faith-filled friends right now. I'm thinking about the gratitude I feel for the friends I can share my spirituality with, and I'm thinking about the people I talk to who yearn for real friends in their life.

There are so many people who feel isolated. Some of them are surrounded by people, but the loneliness comes from not having anyone to share their faith with or call when there's a problem. Others simply don't have many people in their life and are looking for more connection. Whichever category you're in - and even if you do have plenty of faith-filled friends - I encourage you to take a little time today and think about the values you care about in a friendship. The more you practice these values, the more meaningful and dependable your friendships will become. 

Values in friendship

Here are some of the things I value in a friendship. What are yours?

Affirmation. When I share my fears or concerns with a friend, I appreciate when he or she doesn't try to talk me out of the feeling or tell me why I shouldn't feel that way. When I'm scared or stressed, all I need is a safe place to share. 

A Listening Heart. I appreciate when my friends listen without giving advice. Sometimes I ask for insight and feedback, but many times I just need to vent. Listening without trying to "fix-it" is a sign of respect and it's empowering. You're telling someone you support them and know they are capable of working it out.  

Authenticity. I care about friends being honest and real and true to themselves with me. I don't enjoy being with people who are trying to impress me or pretend that everything in their life is perfect because everything in my life sure isn't perfect. It's nice to have an authentic conversation.  

Confidentiality. I appreciate having friends who I can trust will not share whatever I'm sharing. 

Looking at these values I can't help but notice they are many of the same "rules" we suggest in our retreats, especially during the small group sharing in our day retreats. I hope you'll spend some time reflecting on them and creating a list of your own. It's also a good time to ask if you're providing these values to others. Practicing these values and creating additional ones can open the door to deepening friendships and creating a safe space to share your faith. 

Many of these values are summed up in a prayer we'll be sharing today at our event. I hope you'll join us in spirit by praying this today. 

A prayer of thanks for the gift of good friends.

By Scotty Smith. Edited. 

Heavenly Father, I cannot imagine how storms can be navigated, burdens borne, and hardships handled without the company of a few good friends. 
I praise you today for the gift of friendship—for the joy, encouragement, and refreshment you give me through my friends.
When we walk through difficult and draining seasons, we’re inclined to think, “No one can possibly understand what I’m going through."
That’s when the gift of long-standing, all-weather, burden-bearing friends becomes especially precious.
Father, I praise you for the gift of hearing my friends say these two words: “Me too.” 
I praise you for friends who know how to “refresh the hearts of the saints”—including this saint. 
I praise you for friends who remind me of the truth and power of the gospel, of the love of Jesus, and of the bigger story you are always writing.
I praise you for friends who share their lives and not just their gospel. I praise you for friends who offer tears and not just their answers. 
I praise you for friends who give life-giving wisdom and not just mess-fixing formulas.
Father, my all-weather friends turn my heart heavenward. They simply remind me that the foundation and fountain of all good friendship is found in the gospel. 
It’s overwhelming, settling, and centering to hear Jesus say to us, “I no longer call you servants… I call you friends” (John 15:15). 

I'd love to hear from you. What are important values to you in a friendship?