I can remember it like it was yesterday. I was in the seventh grade. I had just dialed in the combination to my locker when an avalanche occurred. Someone had filled my locker to the brim with hygiene products. When I opened the locker, it triggered the avalanche and several bottles of soap and shampoo spilled out into the hallway. As if that wasn’t embarrassing enough, the culprits had included a note that pointed out that I “stunk” and suggested that I use the “gifts” they’d given me to take a shower. I was humiliated. I wanted to run. I wanted to hide. I swore I was never coming back to seventh grade.
It turns out that the shampoo bandits were my “friends.” While it’s true that the hormonal changes of puberty may have left me less than shower fresh, their tactic for dealing with it was less than friendly. In fact, it was down right mean.
That wasn’t the first time that my relationship with my “friends” caused turmoil in my life and it certainly wasn’t the last. Our friendships can be the source of some angst, especially in middle school and high school. As a result we can get pretty wrapped up in the pain our friends have caused us or in our desire to have more friends in order to feel more loved and accepted. But God’s Word encourages us to shift our focus away from our own needs and toward the needs of others. Philippians 2:3 says, “do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves.”
This certainly applies to our friendships. That’s why I want to challenge you to focus more on being a friend that having the right friends or the right number of friends.
In Lies Young Women Believe, Nancy and Dannah write, “You are called to be a true friend. If your focus is on who likes you, you’re not pursuing true friendship. If your focus is on who is asking you to hang out with them, it’s all wrong. That’s not a spiritual mind-set. Ask the Lord to help you be more concerned about who needs you than who likes you” (Lies Young Women Believe, 109).
But just what are the qualities of a good friend? Let’s use Galatians 5:22-23 as our guide.
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Against such things there is no law.”
What kind of friend are you? Are you loving, peaceful (in this case, that means easy to get along with instead of a conflict starter!), patient, kind, good, faithful (no ditching your friends when something better comes along), gentle and self-controlled? Do you seek to demonstrate Christ’s love to others by being a good friend?
Let’s go back to what Nancy and Dannah wrote about friendship in Lies Young Women Believe. “There are people who need your friendship. Ask God to give your eyes to see who they are and start becoming a friend today, And please, please—if it’s not to late—don’t do that silly, superficial girl thing around seventh or eighth grade where you cut off every friend who is not as old as you. If you can just be a friend through the next few awkward months, you might have a friend for life” (Lies Young Women Believe, 110).
So what do you say, are you wiling to shift your focus away from having more friends–and even from the drama that your current friendships may be causing—and toward becoming a true friend to others in need? What are some ways that you can begin to reach out to others around you in the spirit of true friendship?
This blog was created to help you in your pursuit of Truth. So, as you begin to reach out to those around you, we want to encourage you to share your ideas and experiences with others. What are some practical steps you can take to be a true friend to those around you? I am going to start by calling a friend of mine who is having a hard time at home and offering to take her out for sushi (yum!) I bet you can come up with some other great ideas for demonstrating friendship to others. Share your ideas right here on the blog. We can’t wait to hear from you.