Healthy Connections Day 2: Connecting with Friends
Is the game “Truth or Dare” still a thing? I remember playing it when I was a kid, and it was usually relatively harmless. The truths were somewhat silly: “Do you like ____?” The dares were even sillier: “I dare you to eat a worm.” Today, though, if someone were to say, “Let’s play ‘Truth or Dare,’” I would probably laugh in their face. No way! I’m sure the dares would be way worse, and who knows what I would be asked to tell the truth about! But those old games recall the value of friends. We could trust each other with our secrets. While I don’t suggest you tell everyone everything, the ability to tell someone everything is very important. Having good, healthy friends to connect with is something I’m sure we would all agree is a huge blessing in our lives. Friends can build us up, challenge us, correct us, and support us.
“Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another.” (Proverbs 27:17, ESV)
In general, this verse speaks about iron knives/swords. To sharpen them in Solomon’s day, they were often rubbed against another similar knife or sword. The result wasn’t one sharp blade, but two sharp blades; both blades benefited from the exercise. This is the idea behind a strong friend connection—both people benefit from the connection.
“A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.” (Proverbs 17:17, ESV)
Here is another example of what a friend should be in my life. Our love and care for each other shouldn’t be selective. It shouldn’t have ebbs and flows—it should be a constant, especially so during hard times. When I’m struggling with something, having a friend to talk to can help see me through to the other side. A friend that loves me when I feel unlovable can lift me out of the valley.
Those are just a few scriptural examples of what a friend can be. Now, let’s think about some practical mechanics. The idea of “best friends” is something that gains more importance with age, especially so among women. It shouldn’t be only women, of course, because men need it just as much. But such is the case in the bulk of society today. I know of many men my age who would never think of spilling their guts to another man. A get-together among friends is a much more casual affair—talking about work, sports, travel, gripes about life, and so on. There will probably be a lot of laughing, self-deprecation, bravado, quick subject changes, and problem-solving. But when a group of women get together, it’s an entirely different situation. They’ll talk about marriage, family, parenthood, life struggles, desires, and needs. There will be a lot of listening and giving support and advice. Maybe we men could learn a thing or two about valuable connections!
Regardless of gender, in these situations, being connected to the right friends takes on new meaning. You wouldn’t want to share your heart with a gossiper. There must be trust in keeping confidences. Plus, you wouldn’t want to solicit advice from a person who will lead in the wrong way. But don’t you see the benefits that can be gleaned in having the right friends? It troubles me when I hear people say things like, “I don’t need friends.” Uh, sorry—yes you do. And even more than that, who’s to say someone doesn’t need you to be their friend? It’s all too easy to get so focused on ourselves that we neglect to look around and realize there are people in need of friends. Good friends. Maybe a good friend like you. Are you willing to step up to the plate and spend the time necessary to be that friend for someone else?
And I can hear you right now—some of you are saying, “I’m married, my spouse is the only ‘best friend’ I need.”
Congratulations, you’ve earned a cookie! Also, I don’t buy it. While my wife may feign interest, she isn’t going to be all that excited when I babble on about things that don’t interest her. And it goes both ways. Hey, it’s just a fact of life. As much as we love each other, we don’t have to share all the exact same interests. Enter friends that are interested in some of those extraneous things. Also, who better to talk with about the challenges of being a husband and father than another husband and father? You get the point, right? We need friends. They can help ease the burdens of life, pull us through the valleys, join us on the mountaintops, and celebrate our milestones. But those connections need to be the right connections.