A True Friend...
One of the real highlights of the Assemblies of God General Council every two years is connecting with friends. It's fun to break out the pictures of kids and grandkids - to catch up on all the latest happenings and to find out who has moved where. The view from our exhibit was great this year with lots of traffic and one afternoon as I was people watching, I was reminded of two simple thoughts; we really are social beings and as such we really do need each other. That reality played out one evening as Michael and I shared dinner with two dear couples we hadn't seen in months. We talked and laughed non-stop! Bernard Meltzer wrote "A true friend is someone who thinks that you are a good egg even though he knows that you are slightly cracked." How true!
Shelley Taylor, Ph.D., professor of psychology at UCLA, says about women, "We're more inclined to seek out friends and reach out to family. Social support brings down our blood pressure, signals our adrenal glands to stop pumping out corticosteroids, and voila! We feel less anxious, less overwrought, less overwhelmed. We may even live longer as a result of coping this way." (Ladies Home Journal) Taylor says the friendship response to stress may explain why women outlive men.
Do you have enough friends in your life to stay healthy? Emotionally? Mentally?Spiritually? And what exactly constitutes a good friend? In thinking about my own circle of friends I realize they share commonality:
1. They are trustworthy. I can confidently share my deepest secrets knowing they will be kept.
2. They are good listeners. The most powerful way my friends connect with me is to listen. Just listen. There are times when their loving silence (while I am pouring out my heart) is the most powerful medicine I can take.
3. They are encouragers. They believe in me during those times I have stopped believing in myself.
4. They do not use people. I know they would stand by me regardless of whether I am popular, rich, or poor.
5. They keep it real. No phony, flowery words. They love me enough to tell me the truth remembering Proverbs 16:18, "Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall."
Jesus certainly understands the friendship factor. In John 15:12-15 He says, "This is my command: Love one another the way I loved you. This is the very best way to love. Put your life on the line for your friends. You are my friends when you do the things I command you. I'm no longer calling you servants because servants don't understand what their master is thinking and planning. No, I've named you friends because I've let you in on everything I've heard from the Father." (The Message)
You and I may not have to die for someone, but there are other ways we can demonstrate our sacrificial love that I have listed above. So - think of that special friend who needs this kind of love today. Give her all the love you can, and then give a little more. Laugh with her, cry with her, pray with her. Challenge each other to be the best you can be. The truth is friends are good for the soul!
Jesus understood the friendship factor. In John 15:13 (NIV) He said, "Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends."