Friends and Friendship: How to Find, Make and Keep Friends
Friendship is a fundamental part of life. Family and friends are the glue that holds our lives together. Without them, life could be very bleak and lonely. Our friends enrich us.
What is the definition of “Friendship”?
Friendship: to be a friend.To be attached to another by affection or esteem. Acquaintance.One that is not hostile.One that favors and promotes the other. A favored companion.
American Writer and Publisher Elbert Hubbard once said "Your friend is the man who knows all about you, and still likes you."
First, let’s talk about what the description of a true friend is:
- A True Friend is Trustworthy. They live up to their word and can keep a confidence.
- A True Friend is Loving. Not only do they love you but they show it is simple ways. Hugs, notes, small tokens of appreciation. They “like” your Facebook page all the time. They buy an extra Diet Pepsi® for you when they were getting one of their own. They remember you and show you that you’re valued and appreciated.
- A True Friend is Open. Honesty is important with friends. As you learn more about them and become more comfortable in your relationship, you will naturally share more about yourself. Go slowly at first. Friendship is a process. You’ll know when the time is right.
- A True Friend is Respectful. Respect means listening without interrupting. Respect means not focusing on your friends' weaknesses but looking at their strengths. It means avoiding a judgmental (condemning) and critical spirit. When friends have spent time together, they should walk away feeling like they are the most important people in the world.
- A True Friend is a Servant. Selfishness is one of the biggest enemies of true friendship. Rather than asking what your friend can do for you, find what you can do for him. Make a deliberate effort to discover what your friend needs. A kind word? A helping hand? Encouragement? Comfort? One of the side benefits of serving your friends is that, more often than not, they will respond by returning the favor.
- A True Friend is a Speaker of Truth. There may be a time when you need to lovingly confront a friend where he’s off. Pointing out weaknesses can be difficult, but it's a true act of love all the same. The Bible says that if you "rebuke a wise man, ... he will love you" (Proverbs 9:8). As long as you're speaking the truth in love (and trying not to be hurtful), these tricky times can prove to be building blocks in your relationship.
- A True Friend is a Positive Person. No one wants to be around a person who's negative all the time — the person who always sees the glass as half empty instead of half full. Look for the best in people and in situations. Then express those optimistic thoughts. When you hear someone else's grumbling and complaining, try to turn those thoughts into positive ones.
- And, for those people who live a life of faith, a true friend prays for you.
Friendship is give and take. Be willing to treat others the way you want to be treated. And being a friend does not always come naturally. Friendship, and the skill of being a good friend, is something we can learn.
Stages of Friendship
There are 4 stages of friendship coincide with the stages of life:
- Childhood friends
- Teenage friends
- Adult friendships
- Age-old friends.
In addressing the subject of teaching children how to be a good friend, Dr. Bill Maier of Focus on the Family gives four keys points.
He said to teach your child
- Name calling is out of the question, even in jest. Poking fun with words like “pimple face” and “fatty” may seem innocent but it is never funny to the other person on the receiving end.
- Don’t expect always to get your way. Take turns. You can’t always be the leader.
- Friends do things for each other. They put others needs above their own.
- A good friend can always be trusted. They can be counted on to keep their word and to keep a secret.
As children, a lot of friendship revolves around play. That's what children do and that's how they learn. Learning to become a friend, and take the pain of rejection that childhood friendships can bring, is all a part of the process.
Our Lives Were a Lot Like "The Sandlot"
When I was a child, my life was a lot like the movie THE SANDLOT.
I grew up in the ‘50’s and ‘60’s. When school was not in session, we played outside till the sun went down. Mom had a big cow bell hanging on the back porch that she would ring when it was time to come home.
My best friend, who remains a friend to this day, was Elaine. We were nothing alike but we just loved to play together. She was the tom-boy, I was afraid to try anything new or daring. She was very outdoorsy. Her tree climbing prowess won her one broken arm and 2 broken collar bones. Her parents tried to keep her out of trees! I preferred indoors and went outside only because that was where the other kids were.
We had a lot of kids in our group. At times there could be as many as 20 of us. We’d play freeze tag, redlight greenlight, pretend to ride horses, hide and go seek, kick ball. And they’d climb trees--lots of them. I’d watch!
Look where NCIS's Ducky started!
Teens have an added stress in their friendships. Peer pressure over-the-top and, with girls, drama everywhere! If it isn’t overtly demonstrated amongst them, there is an undercurrent of needing to size up or being judged. Genuine friendships among teens are rare and to be cherished.
As teenagers in the ‘60’s, Elaine and I were boy crazy and star struck. Had we ever caught one we wouldn’t have known what to do with him, but we sure loved to dream about it!
We would pour over Tiger Beat magazine, play the radio and dream outloud. We had crushes on the stars of The Man From U.N.C.L.E. So that we could dream nice, and not get in a tug of war over it, I took Napoleon Solo and she selected Illya Kuryachin as her favorite.
With the Beatles, I had Paul McCartney, she had George Harrison. One time, when we were staying overnight at each other’s house, we cooked up a plot to mail ourselves to Herman’s Hermits! They were doing a concert in town and we found out where they were staying. We were convinced we could do it, using an empty box that a refrigerator had been delivered in--until we asked our parents for help, that is. That killed a good plan!
Friends as Adults
Many of my adult friends are either family members, co-workers or we are linked through our faith.
At a very difficult time in my life, I needed friends who could stand in faith and believe with me for a failing marriage but I didn’t know any. It was going to prove to be an eleven year siege that could have buried most families alive. The Lord directed me to believe Him and stand in faith that He would turn things around. But, wisely He knew, I couldn’t last 11 years on my own. I prayed for help and help soon came.
One day as I was praying with people at church, the lady I was praying with had the very same problem as me. We traded phone numbers. Then she introduced me to another. Finally, Anne Marie and Debby suggested we do something different and get together to have a Princess House party. We had it at my house. I have no idea where all the ladies came from but several of us discovered we were in the same dilemma and all wanted to believe God. That lead to the development of our prayer group where we experienced many miracles and answers to prayer, and some disappointments as well. But we did it together.
During the course of those years, I hit a time where my family was financially backed into a corner. We had pressing bills-- like keeping the gas and electric on-- that could not be ignored. There was just no way to pay them. My friends all had their financial woes, as well, and I only shared it with them so that we could pray. We did pray and then one of the girls pulled out her purse and threw a twenty dollar bill in the middle of the table. She said “God told me to help Sinea.” Moments later, to my astonishment, cash and checks filled up the center of the table. I came home that night with hundreds of dollars from my wonderful friends. More than enough to meet the need and then some. Friends like that are hard to find.
The extra bonus is that, years later, we are all still very close friends. The old adage proves true: 'friends that pray together, stay together'.
The poet Emily Dickinson so aptly said "My friends are my estate."
Let’s briefly revisit the what it is to be a TRUE FRIEND:
True friendship is a deeper relationship. They hurt when you hurt. They laugh when you laugh. They cry when you cry. They minister to your needs. A true friend wants the best for you, even if they can’t figure out just what that may be. Friends don’t judge. Friends support. Friendship has a blind eye that blots out your imperfections and goes for the gold. Friends sense when you are in trouble and reach out a helping hand or a shoulder to cry on.
How to Find and Make Friends
How do you cultivate friendship? Reach out!
Here’s are some things to look for in making friends:
- Similar Values. Do they believe what you believe? You don’t have to be identical but it helps to have similar core values at heart.
- Common Interests. Look for people who enjoy doing what you enjoy. If you are a dog lover and the other person hates animals, you may not have much to build on.
- Likability. It is so much easier to be around people who are pleasant to be with.
- Consistency. Casual friendships can become lifelong friendships, given time. Be patient. Friendship grows.
What are some things you can do to cultivate friendship?
Start by saying “hello”. Introduce yourself, if you don’t know their name.
Pick a venue where you’d like to make more friends. Is it among your neighbors, at work, or at church? Maybe through your child’s school.
Reach out to people who may have some things in common with you. If you have a dog, take him for a walk regularly. Soon you will be making the acquaintance of other ladies who are walking their dogs. Your canine friends can be an opener.
Have a party. In-home parties are fun. Celebrating Home, Pampered Chef, Princess House, Party Lite, Lia Sophia, Mary Kay, Tupperware…there are so many great businesses that use parties to sell their goods. Host a part and let the business representative do most of the work. You just invite people. Stretch out a bit beyond just people you know well. There are lonely ladies out there just looking for a way to make a connection.
Find a walking buddy. We all could use more exercise. How nice to spend the time walking and talking with somebody else. If you don’t know of one, maybe join a group at the “Y” or Weight Watchers where they may also live nearby. Look for ways to strike up a conversation and ask around. Somebody else may be looking for a walker to join them.
Get involved at church. Churches need volunteers. If it falls on the shoulders of the pastors and a chosen few, they will eventually crash and burn. They need your help. Select ministries that center on things you enjoy. If you love children, get involved in children’s ministry. There are small group Bible studies, women’s groups with great events like this one, mothers of young tots groups. Go where the people are and be friendly.
Young Moms: go online find great events going on for your little ones. Ask some other young mothers to join you. Make it a little club that does things once a week or once a month.
Ever heard of Casserole Friday? This is a good way to get started with a casual friendship.Set up a swap with another mom. One Friday you make a delicious casserole for your family and make a second one for hers. The next week it reverses. You get a day off and the delicious casserole comes right to your doorstep. Develop a routine of helping each other out. See if that can lead to play dates for your kids or family get togethers.
Have a Dessert Party. Dessert parties require less work and less commitment. Invite groups of ladies or whole families to come over and bring a dessert to share. Put on a pot of coffee and enjoy some time together. If you feel you need some entertainment, pull out some board games that require interaction like Apples to Apples or trivia games…or do some scrap booking together.
Note: This article was first a talk that I gave as the guest speaker at a ladies' luncheon, so it is very "gal-friendly". But there are plenty of things that guys can do to make friends, too. Here are some suggestions: golf, fishing, hunting, card games. How about helping each other with some home-improvement projects or working on the car? For dads, join another dad for Guys Day Out with your boys? Become a little league coach or scout leader? Where the kids are, so will be other fathers who may be in the need of a friend.
I’d like to end with a scripture that everyone who has ever attended a wedding has probably heard. It’s fondly referred to as the “Love Chapter” in the Bible and is found in I Corinthians 13.
What I would like to do, though, is substitute the word “friend” for the word “love” and I think you’ll agree that they are easily interchanged.
I Corinthians 13: 4-8 (paraphrased) A friend is patient, a friend is kind. He does not envy, he does not boast, he is not proud. He does not dishonor others, he is not self-seeking, he is not easily angered, he keeps no record of wrongs. A friend does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. He always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. A friend never fails… to be your friend.
"Friendship Writing" Lesson Plans
Teaching friendship to children is time well-spent but often overlooked, until problems arise.
Here are some great lesson plan ideas to help teachers hone their students' writing skills while teaching them how to be a good friends to others: Lesson Plan Ideas for Teachers
Another useful friendship reference: Friendship Quotes & Sayings