Real-Life Friends

Real-Life Friends

I’m struggling with anger,” my friend quietly whispered to me as our little ones ran wild at the park. “I hate that people at church can be so mean. It makes me so mad. And if I’m honest... this situation kind of makes me wonder if this faith thing is even real.” 

 

Over the next hour and a half, my friend opened up to me about a number of struggles she had quietly endured the past year. She confessed pains and doubts she had held close to her chest—from marriage conflict to church hurt to faith struggles she had silently endured. 

 

As my friend shared her hurts with me, truthfully, I felt honored. I was thankful that my friend was no longer carrying these burdens alone. And in the same breath, I thought about how often I have been on the other side of this kind of conversation—how often I have been the one quietly confessing some hidden struggle or sin, thankful for a friend who would listen and pray. We all need local, listening friends from time to time. 

 

Friendship is a gift. 

 

Friendship is a gift | TDGC

It is a gift to have playdate friends and coffee friends, workout friends and praying friends. It is a gift to have older friends and younger friends, friends who are like us and friends who are different from us. Each friend offers something unique, maybe a challenge or a laugh or a word of encouragement. Yet in the Church, we all need one another. 

 

But in today’s culture, we often pretend like we don’t need friends. We have online followers, likes, and comments. We have online threads and groups. We feel socially connected, even if we haven’t had an in-person conversation in a week. But as the craving in our hearts reminds us, online communities do not replace local, in-the-flesh, friendships.

 

Online communities do not replace real friendships | TDGC

Don’t get me wrong—modern technology has been a blessing for many reasons. Without a doubt, one of the greatest blessings of technology in my life has been the ability to talk to all kinds of people, all over the world. It is a huge gift to me that with a touch of my phone, I can keep in touch with my sister who lives halfway across the country, or my college roommate who lives overseas. 

 

At the same time, the Bible gives us advice for pursuing local relationships too, for prioritizing the local church and local friends. It says, “Don’t abandon your friend or your father’s friend, and don’t go to your brother’s house in your time of calamity; better a neighbor nearby than a brother far away” (Proverbs 27:10). A local friend is a treasure, and it is a great gift to have someone close by who can listen, bring a meal, and share a hug. Though these kinds of friendships may take time to build, they are the sweetest gifts. 

 

Better a neighbor nearby than a brother far away (Proverbs 27:10) | TDGC

But what if you can’t seem to find local friends? You’d love to have friends to go to the movies or dinner with, but you just can’t seem to find them. There are seasons when friendships can feel harder or be more sparse, so if you are struggling to find friends, pray first. Ask the Lord to provide friends for you in this season. But not only this, look for others who feel left out and take the initiative to try to be their friend. Talk to someone sitting by themselves at church on Sunday and ask them out for coffee. Invite them over to your house. Sometimes, we can be so focused on getting into the “in crowd,” that we neglect to see all the other people who feel lonely too.

 

As my friend shared her hurt at the playground that day, I listened and prayed, trying to offer empathy and encouragement. After we exchanged hugs and prayers, she admitted that she hadn’t talked to anyone about these feelings, and how it helped to just express her hidden thoughts out loud. 

 

Unsurprisingly, the following week, it was my turn to confess my struggles to this same friend as our kids ran wild at the playground, and she, in turn, offered me faith-filled encouragement and prayer. Local friends are a treasure, indeed. 

 

 

Additional Resources: 

 

Mentioned Products

Craving Community | A Bible Study on Friendship

Better Together | Discipleship Guide

Prayers For Friendship

The Daily Grace Podcast

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