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The Loneliest Person Can Be Your Own Best Friend: How to Be A Good Listener & A Real Friend to Others in Need
The Loneliest Friend May be Your Best
There may be a person in your life that is in desperate of your true friendship. They are already one of your best friends - you may have known them for many years, or just met them recently, but they have become an valuable ally and confidant. They are one of the greatest friends you’ll ever have in your life. These individuals are generous and giving. When you need someone to talk to, they are the first ones who come to mind.
- MARITAL PROBLEMS?
- INFRACTIONS OF THE LAW?
- DEEP SEEDED FAILURES?
- BATTLES LOST TO TEMPTATION?
You who they are. These are the friends that you can share even these issues with. Problems so personal, embarrassing, and potentially damaging; If this information were to get into the wrong hands, they could destory your reputation; BUT these friends can be trusted with even this. Anyone else and you would probably be forced to change churches, jobs, towns if need be, all to start again – hiding in anonymously somewhere where no ones your secrets.
However, these friends are an awesome blessing. You confide in them and they still love you. Yes, you tell them everything and they listen with an understanding ear. I didn't say they agree with everything, No, they are good enough friends to tell you the truth if needed. Although they may not agree with you, they will scold fairly, love you anyways, and their chastisement is welcomed. You trust they will love you through your darkest nights and worst problems. They will stand with you until the storm passes, never divulging your secrets unless by your permission.
They are NOT your Father Confessor, NO! They are simply a friend. You can live out James 5:16 with them because they are true.
Now some may read this and think I'm describing God Almighty, the Lord Jesus Christ - the greatest friend above all friends (Prov 18:24). WRONG! I’m describing the friend that many of us have been blessed with, a comrade that you grew up with or met along life’s journey. After a while, you came to find their God given gift of mercy and helps (and capitalized on them – in a good way of course). Just another brother or sister in the Lord, who God blessed with a heart of Phileo: brotherly love, wrapped in mercy, seasoned with discernment and stuffed with kindness.
This is a blessing for YOU, it is also a blessing to them as they love to be there for you. However, it can often be one of the greatest burdens imaginable. You see, these types of individuals may find that THEY are better friends to others, but do not have the same level of friendship for themselves. They have no one to turn to in times of need. No one willing to listen, and love them the way they minister to you. People go TO them for answers, but when the answers are found, their services are no longer needed. “Thank you see you next crisis…”
Imagine this: you call a friend to say hi and explain that you have had a very challenging trial today, you want to share your heart. Before you can begin they quickly start; “I’m so glad you called, you read my mind, God must have told you to call, I’ve been under such stress… let me tell you what happened this week…”. Because it’s in your nature to love and serve, you listen intently to their woes, placing your own on the back burner. After you have prayed with them, given godly advice, encouragement, or just been the listening ear they needed, the friend says, “thank you for calling, I better get off the line, I’ve got so much to do… You are such a good friend, thank you for listening, I love you, you are such a good friend, a true gift from God! Bye”.
Such is the life of the COUNSELING FRIEND.
….It’s a lonely life, a rewarding life, but a lonely life. People go to their ‘other friends’ to laugh and enjoy simple pleasures with, but they come to the Counseling Friend for their problems, sorrows, and failures.
(Maybe you think the Counseling Friend should be more assertive? Well, just ask a good Mother who willingly gives up the best piece of Chicken for those she loves… A soldier who goes off to battle while we stay safe at home, a Missionary who gives up their life of pleasure for the foreign fields of hardship, it’s just in their nature…)
Now, some people are aware enough of the unfair nature of this unequal relationship. They do try their hardest to right the inequity by inviting them to parties, sending birthday gifts, taking time to chit chat when they are able. But there is one challenge; many of the Counseling Friends have too much wisdom, knowledge, and discernment. In the midst of a conversation about the smallest of issues, they have the gift of insight to see to the heart the matter. Their discussions are weighty and substantial. When friends get together for fun and enjoyment, they may not appreciate a constant flow of information, wisdom, and substance. They may just want to relax and enjoy the simple pleasures of light conversation.
Therein IS the problem. Of course each person is different, each individual is unique, but generally this type of individual is acquainted with loneliness. They are gifted in counseling, they are the best of friends, but they are friendless in many cases.
Today, if you recognize one of these individuals in your life, I encourage you to stop and appreciate them. Be a better friend to them than you have in the past. You know, you have the power to show great love to them, want to know how?
- Encourage them to ‘Shut Up’. Please understand what I mean; the very next time you invite them out, and you should make a special point to reach out to them, try a coffee or lunch date at YOUR expense. Take into account all of the FREE counsel they have given you over the years. This would actually equal thousands of dollars if you had visited them in a real counseling office –
- Sooooo…. gratefully and graciously foot the bill! While you are out at YOUR EXPENSE, anytime they seek to give advice, remind them you are here to just enjoy their company.
- Open the door to light conversation, leading them step by step along the way. This may be difficult but not impossible. These Counseling Friends are used to being invited out with a purpose: to be pumped and primed for their expertise. They may even try to speed up the ‘inevitable’ by attempting to engage in seeking out what problem YOU really need answered. They’ll assume that’s the reason you invited them anyway, but for some strange reason you are having trouble getting to the point. This may be seductive, there sits before you, one of the greatest gifts of God, a Counseling Friend willing to listen to your selfish needs – make YOU the center of attention again -
- Sooooo…..hold firm to your convictions. You may actually have a need that they CAN answer, but hold firm, don’t give in to the desire to suck up the time with your own needs! Remember you are there to be a friend to them, something they desperately need.
- Make certain to repeat this same outreach to your Counseling Friend at least once every two weeks for the next 2-3 month if possible. This may seem like a chore at first, the conversation may be a little one sided and dry for a while.
- Remember, they are not familiar with being loved in this manner. They may not know how to receive this type of love. They will be inexperienced in sharing their feelings on simple things that don’t require frequent tears and advice from the person sitting across the table. So please be patient, even long suffering (it may feel like suffering until that Counseling Friend learns to ‘Shut Up’ and let you Love on them!).
With perseverance and patience, soon enough the Counseling Friend will understand that they deserve love just for themselves and not only for the service they provide. You’ll also gain some great insight, you are a better friend than you may have imagined.
P.s. Pardon the advice… A ‘Counseling’ type friend such as me just can’t help offering it sometimes, no matter how hard we try.