Have you ever seen friendship in a book or a movie and wished you could have that experience? Media paints a beautiful picture of friendship. But in real life, finding and growing friendships can be tough.
I know how it feels to struggle with friendship. As an introvert, nine times out of ten I would rather stay in bed than hang out. But even for me, friendship is a powerful force. My friends have a major impact on me, encouraging me and giving me perspective. Despite my introversion, I struggled with loneliness throughout quarantine.
The strain quarantine placed on my friendships helped me appreciate how important friendship is. Good friends share our burdens. They influence us to make good decisions and grow closer to God, and when we stray, they’re not afraid to redirect us. I hope to encourage you to find friendship or grow your existing ones by highlighting some of the benefits of healthy friendship.
The world is complex, confusing, and often cruel. We all know that it was difficult to face quarantine and Covid-19 alone. But even before 2020, we still faced trials like school- or work-related stress, disease, loneliness, anxiety, depression, etc, etc. Sometimes life is too heavy for one person to carry alone. In these times, friends can help us share the load.
A friend doesn’t have to have all the answers. Sometimes all you need is someone to cry with. Other times, a friend encourages you by reminding you of truth, or by caring for your physical needs. For example, our family often helps friends who have just had a baby by making meals for them. Even such simple acts of kindness can make a difference.
You don’t need to suffer alone. A good friend is willing to listen and to help if possible. Someday, they may find themselves in the same position, and you can show compassion to them. That is one of the beauties of healthy friendships.
Knowingly or unknowingly, we take cues from our peers. Peer pressure pushes us towards decisions we would never make on our own. With negative peer pressure, this can lead to tragedy. 1 Corinthians 15:33 addresses this very issue:
“Do not be deceived: ‘Bad company ruins good morals.’”
It’s possible to resist peer pressure, but there is a better way. Peer pressure turns into a blessing when we are surrounded by friends who follow God. When those around us are following God, they influence us to do the same.
Positive peer pressure impacted me greatly when I was young. One of my friends in elementary school avoided conflict proactively. When the kids at church got into a stupid argument, she would leave the situation and do something else. I would usually leave as well, since without my friend, the argument was boring. I wanted to dive into the conflict, but my friend influenced me toward peace.
Few people enjoy criticism. Unfortunately, it’s a part of every life and profession. Except for mean-spirited comments, most people give us input to help us improve. In our walk with God, criticism is vital to help us recognize lies in our life and make sure that we honor God.
A good friend knows the importance of criticism and values you enough to tell you when you are walking down a bad path. Proverbs 27:17 refers to this:
“As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.”
Constructive criticism sharpens us, giving us insight on our flaws that we could never have seen on our own. Although criticism can be painful, good friends aren’t afraid to apply the whetstone.
Finding Healthy Friendship
Not all of us have experienced healthy friendship. That’s okay. I myself have had times when I struggled with friendship. If you want to start finding healthy friendships, consider these tips:
- Put yourself out there. Be willing to meet new people.
- Listen. Be willing to listen to someone else talk about themselves and their passions, even if you can’t relate. Friendships with those who are different from you can be rewarding.
- Friendship is not one-sided. Respect yourself, even if others don’t.
Healthy friendship plays a critical role in our lives. It can give us support when we need it and allow us to support others in turn. Trials like quarantine highlight how important friendship is. God didn’t mean us to live life alone, and sharing it with other people pursuing God makes life so much better.
Sarah Howell is a sci-fi writer who loves enjoying and creating beauty of all forms. Throughout her teen years, Sarah has struggled with trusting God. This has taught her that struggling doesn’t make her any less worthy of love- “wilted is not worthless.” You can find her at sarahhowellwriter.com.