The old saying goes, to have a friend, you have to be one.
I don’t think so.
Sounds more like a business deal. It’s a trade, not a friendship. Have you ever had a friend who wasn’t a good friend back? Sure you have.
A better saying would be, to have a friend, you have to express your need. You could argue (probably successfully) that if you haven’t been a friend to someone, they aren’t going to be around to care about your need. But the currency of real relationship is need. And you will never have a deep friendship without expressing your needs. Without vulnerability. To have a friend, you have to take the risk of opening yourself up and sharing your heart . . . meaning you have to risk being rejected.
So, let’s imagine a guy with financial problems. Or a guy who lost a loved one. Or whose marriage is in trouble. How does God give this guy the help He has for him?
First, our guy has to humble himself, drop his pride, and his self-assured macho, “I can get through this on my own” mentality. Then he has to go to his friend and say, “I need you. I’m not asking you to bail me out. I just need someone to talk to.” In that vulnerability, he opens himself up and allows someone in . . . to his fear . . . to his sorrow . . . to his pain. And into his heart. In the darkness of his situation, he’s connected. No longer alone. He has a friend.
When my nephew was diagnosed with bone cancer, my sister called from Duke University Medical Center. There was a long pause, and then she said, “I need you. Can you come up here?” She didn’t have to explain. She wasn’t asking for my wisdom, medical advice, or financial help. She just needed me . . . someone she loved and who loved her. Someone who would be there, who would care, who would listen. Someone who would sit with her as she waited outside the treatment rooms. We’ve been close ever since. A deeper friendship than possible any other way.
In every crisis I can remember, there’s been a moment. A decision point. A fork in the road. Go it alone? Or tell someone and take them with you? My brother found out he had deadly cancer. It was six months before he decided to invite anyone else to go with him. Once he did, he got love and support he didn’t think was possible, some of which will extend his life.
It’s like the moment just before we jump over a creek. We know it’s what we need to do. It’s what we want to do. But there’s this uncertainty . . . this fear of not making it . . . this hesitance that tells us to wait . . . to put it off . . . to figure out another way so we don’t have to take the risk.
God wants us to take that risk. He wants us to jump the creek. He wants us to open ourselves up to a trusted friend. He wants to bless you and that person with an intimate friendship, one that can get roots and grow strong. Birthed in the darkness of pain.
Question: What are you carrying around by yourself that you’d really like to share with someone? Could this be what God uses to bond a deep, forever friendship?