Building Friendships

Building friendships entails investing time and effort into establishing authentic connections. These genuine relationships are rooted in trust, empathy, and shared experiences. By nurturing these bonds, we cultivate a network of people who genuinely care about each other’s well-being and success. It’s a give-and-take dynamic which fosters a sense of belonging and strengthens our ability to overcome challenges. Author, Shane Parrish put it well: “One of the highest forms of wealth is good company. You can buy a lot of things, but you can’t buy good company. You have to earn it.”

Meaningful friendships bring joy and fulfillment. When we invest in others without any specific motive or the expectation of immediate returns, we experience the satisfaction of making a positive impact on someone else’s life. Let’s take the time to cultivate relationships. Life is unpredictable, and challenges can arise unexpectedly. Having a strong support system of friends who genuinely care provides immense comfort during difficult times. Knowing we have people we can lean on, and trust enhances our resilience and ability to navigate life’s ups and downs.

Building friendships is analogous to building wealth, investments that yield dividends. By making friends without regard to a need, we are creating deposits that can lead to increased opportunities later in life. These connections, personal or professional, can open doors to new experiences, collaborations, job offers, mentorships, all of which are invaluable in our journey. Ethel Barrymore once said, “The best time to make friends is before you need them.” However, I prefer the imagery of the African Proverb, “Make friends with the boatman in the dry season and you will be the first to cross the river in the rain season.”

Friendship is built on enjoying each other’s company as a result of common interests, being able to help each other and having a sense of mutual admiration. The true friend wishes good to their friend for their friend’s sake with no condition of benefit to themselves. As Walter Winchell said, “A friend is one who walks in when others walk out.”

For a while now, Americans have had fewer close connections than decades ago. A trend intensified by the social isolation of the pandemic. Making and keeping friends takes more money and effort than it used to. People spend less time at offices and take online school courses – two of the larger areas of connecting with others. To replace those missed opportunities, people pay for art classes and gym memberships. Catching up over drinks or dinner adds up fast with today’s rising prices.

The 17th century Spanish philosopher Baltasar Gracian had a great take on friendship: “There is no desert like living without friends. Friendship multiplies the good of life and divides the evil. It is the sole remedy against misfortune, the very ventilation of the soul.” If we find ourselves in a life desert, friends can be a wellspring, an oasis to provide refreshing relief. The Eagles have a great line in their song, Desperado, “Your prison is walking through this world all alone.” The older we get, the more this prison can become a reality., especially for men. I learned a while ago men build friendships ‘side by side’ and those opportunities for bonding decrease with age. We need to be intentional and take the first step in building friendships – to be a friend.

Friendship is an instrument by which God reveals to each of us the beauties of others. We think we choose our friends, but there is a guiding hand operating behind the scenes. CS Lewis describes friendship in this way, “Christ, who said to the disciples, “Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you,” can truly say to every group of Christian friends, “Ye have not chosen one another but I have chosen you for one another.”

The book of Ecclesiastes is believed to have been written in the third century B.C., when Judea was under the oppressive domination of Hellenistic kings from Egypt. This tyranny left the Jewish people with a sense of powerlessness, making verses 4:9-12 more striking, “Two are better than one: They get a good wage for their toil. If the one falls, the other will help the fallen one. But woe to the solitary person! If that one should fall, there is no other to help. So also, if two sleep together, they keep each other warm. How can one alone keep warm? Where one alone may be overcome, two together can resist. A three-ply cord is not easily broken.”

The Book of Ruth portrays the love and loyalty of human beings working their way through tragic circumstances to be a community of the faithful people of God. There is the friendship between Abraham and Lot, David and Jonathan, Jesus and Martha, Mary, and Lazarus.

We can hold up members of the church at Philippi as a model. They made such an impact on Paul’s life through their support, generosity, and faithfulness, he wrote a letter to them, saying as “God as my witness, I long for you.” He mentions how he thanks God every time he thinks of them.

When we focus on building friendships, we create a community around us which contributes to our growth. By making meaningful connections we create a network of supportive individuals who enrich our lives and enhance our opportunities for growth and success. So, let’s invest in authentic relationships, support one another, and cultivate a community where we can all thrive together. The more we give to others, the more abundance we receive in return.

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