Over these past few posts we have been talking about loneliness and how to combat loneliness. In my last post I shared how we combat loneliness and probably not a huge surprise, it’s through healthy relationships. Healthy relationships are relationships where we feel safe and seen. These relationships fall into one of two categories:
Over the next few posts we will take a deeper look at these two types of relationships starting with friendships.
To clarify, when we speak of friendships, we are not referring to acquaintances, we are referring to our most intimate friendships, our best friends. These are the people who know us best.
They know our likes. Our dislikes. Our birthday. We trust them with our secrets. Our dreams.
Now if at this point we are thinking, we don’t have the friendships we want, we are not alone. Sixty-one percent of us don’t have the relationships we want, but the good news is relationships are built based upon patterns and we can change our patterns to change our relationships.*
Together we are going to dive deeper into the following two patterns of friendships:
- How to be a good friend
- What do healthy friendships look like?
This week we are discussing – How to be a good friend. If we are honest, we all strive to be good friends, but what does it take to be a good friend? The number one thing about being a good friend that is easily overlooked, is it is not all about us.
Our number one job as a friend is to take burdens off our friends.
They should leave our presence feeling uplifted and encouraged about who they are, where they are in life, and how they are contributing to the world.
Our goal should never be to impress or entertain our friends.
A beautiful example of friends who understand what it means to take burdens off is found in the Bible. In Luke 5:18-20 we see three men carrying their paralyzed friend to Jesus. When the crowds prevent them from accessing the house where Jesus is teaching, they dig a hole in the roof, and lower their friend down before Jesus.
These friends want to take the burden of paralysis off their friend. They believe if they can just get their paralyzed friend before Jesus he will be healed. They are believing and hoping for the best for their friend.
I love the anonymity of this passage too. The focus is not on the three friends.
This isn’t about Bob who had bulging biceps and concocted the plan to carry their paralyzed friend.
It’s not about Joe who was a Jack of all trades and devised the plan to dig a hole in the roof.
It’s not about Dan who was a demolition expert and effortlessly tore a hole in the roof.
The only two things we know about these three friends is:
- They had a mutual friend who was paralyzed.
- They had faith that Jesus could heal their friend.
And then there is Jesus who is the ultimate friend to the paralyzed man. Jesus not only saw this man’s physical needs, he saw his spiritual needs as well. Everyone was focused on the exterior and thought his greatest need was physical healing, but Jesus saw his heart and knew his greatest need was spiritual. But Jesus didn’t stop there. He met his spiritual needs first, then he met his physical needs, and healed him (Luke 5:25).
This week as we combat loneliness and pursue healthy relationships, may our focus be upon embracing new patterns. May we remind ourselves friendship is not about us. We don’t need to impress or entertain our friends. We are good friends when we remove burdens, believe the best, and hope for the best for our friends. When we do this we will become the good friends we long to be and friends others gravitate to.
*Why Tho Podcast. “Surviving Summer: Frientimacy.” July 14, 2022