Written By Michelle Chun, Malaysia
Anna* and I have been close friends since I was 10. If you knew us, you’d probably wonder why we’re friends. At times, I do, too. Sure, we share fond childhood memories, but we’re no longer the little girls we used to be. We don’t have common interests, nor do we move in the same circles. We don’t exactly “click”—carrying a conversation can be an effort at times, and lengthy silences are a norm when we hang out.
Yet she’s one of the most important people in my life.
Many friendships these days are easy come, easy go. Media and the digital age make it so easy to make friends. We have many different social circles (work, school, church, sports, etc.) to hop in and out of, and endless possibilities when it comes to things to do and places to go. On the way, we make friends, adding to the ones we already have. We also lose friends.
Once we reach our 20s, we may discover that while we have many friends, only a handful are the ones we’d call if we can’t sleep or need prayer, counsel, or emergency compliments. They’re also the ones we know would call us if they ever needed quiet company—or just a lame joke.
Anna’s that kind of friend. It would have been easy to let this friendship fade away, as she’s been living on the other side of the world for the past six years. Choosing to work at its, however, is one of the best decisions I’ve made. And I’ve learnt a few things along the way:
1. Friendship is hard work. No matter what the next big social app tells us, let’s not be fooled. Friendship is more than accepting a “Friend Request” or “following” a friend. It requires commitment, patience, and sacrifice. It can mean having to brave the traffic jam for a half-hour catch-up session instead of watching our favorite television series, or resisting the urge to say “I told you so” when a friend regrets making a decision we’d advised him or her against. It means making time for Skype calls even when time zones just seem to work against us. Friendship is hard work.
2. Friendship is about growing together. Proverbs 17:17 is a popular verse when it comes to talking about the value of friendships. “A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for a time of adversity.” Isn’t the Bible full of wisdom? I’m always in awe at how timeless God’s word is, and how applicable it is no matter the century or culture. Friendship is about growing together, about choosing to love (and be loved) at all times; our friends shouldn’t be projects we’re trying to fix. It’s about being a tangible expression of God’s love to each other, and about challenging each other to grow in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ. Iron sharpens iron!
3. Friendship isn’t about being everyone’s friend. Being a good friend is not about being a people pleaser. I’ve come across a number of people over the years who have given in and given up so much to be “cool” or to fit in, but wake up one day to realize they’ve completely lost every sense of who they are. The truth is, not everyone will want to be our friend, and we won’t want to be everyone’s friend too. And that’s perfectly okay. We have the best example of a true friend in Jesus, so let’s walk in His footsteps and let Him shine through us! He’ll strengthen us to be the best kind of friend we can be to those around us.
4. Friendship is priceless. You can’t buy a true friend. In a culture where friendship is so loosely defined, and commitment and loyalty are not always prized, finding someone who truly loves us, wants the best for us, and is willing to walk and grow with us, is rare. They are there, though! When we do find them, we should keep them close to our hearts. For me, Anna’s a priceless pearl.
Remember, too, that if we want to have good friends, we must first be friendly ourselves. What an example we have in Jesus! He loves us as we are, and guides and leads us along the way so we can live out the wonderful purpose our Father has for us.
With Christ in us, we can be a great friend to others.
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