True Friends

I’ve given a lot of thought over the years to the subject of friendship. We use the term friends in a general way, but not all “friends” are friends.

Frank Viola has written a couple of interesting posts on the subject. He lists five characteristics of true friends.

Five Characteristics of a Close (True) Friend

A close friend rejoices in your joys and sorrows over your pains. A true friend is not just sympathetic, they are empathetic. They share your feelings, weeping with you when you weep and rejoicing with you when you rejoice.

A close friend won’t defriend you if you disagree. Friendships are tested when there is a disagreement. But true friends don’t cut you off because of it. They may tell you what they think you need to hear and vice versa. But they will do it in such a way where you can receive it. The reason is because you know they love you unconditionally more than they love their views.

A close friend stays in regular contact with you. There are people who I’m friends with who contact me from time to time and vice versa. But a close friend this doth not make. Close friends communicate fairly regularly.

A close friend is someone whom you trust implicitly. They have earned your trust. Consequently, you don’t doubt that they have your back. And you don’t fear that they will stab you in the back. You trust them enough to confide in them about highly private and confidential matters. Close friendship brings with it disclosure (John 15:15).

A close friend will stand by you, defend you, even take a bullet for you when you’re under attack. To my mind, this is perhaps the highest measure of friendship or one of the rock-bottom “tests.” The posture of a true friend is, “If you hurt my friend, you’ve hurt me.” It is never, “Well, that person never did anything to hurt me, so it’s not my issue.” This attitude is what separates goats from black sheep. True friends stand with and stand up for each other.

~ Frank Viola

True friends are a rare thing. I once heard the line, “friends who cease to be, never were.” I agree with that.

I like the quote Viola uses at the beginning of his post.

“Friendship is the inexpressible comfort of feeling safe with a person, having neither to weigh thoughts nor measure words.”

~ George Eliot

Feeling safe with someone about sums it up. Here are a few more quotes on friendship.

“A friend is a person with whom I may be sincere. Before him I may think aloud.”
– Ralph Waldo Emerson

Be courteous to all, but intimate with few, and let those few be well tried before you give them your confidence. – George Washington

I always felt that the great high privilege, relief and comfort of friendship was that one had to explain nothing. – Katherine Mansfield

I have friends in overalls whose friendship I would not swap for the favor of the kings of the world. – Thomas Edison

The world is a lonely place without friends. You don’t need a roomful. All you need is that one person you can talk with who understands and who genuinely wishes the best for you. Real friends are priceless. Protect your friendships, because they need nurturing. They are a rare gift we should never take for granted.

9 thoughts on “True Friends

  1. Marilyn says:

    This post causes me allot of pain. The truth in it resonates as I grieve the loss of friends, or what I thought to be friends. I get these ideas about people and then hang my hat on it. What needs to happen is I need to readjust my thinking and see people for who they really are, not my ideal of what they are. Thanks for sharing. I needed a reminder of the truth, even though it hurts. I guess now I can start at square one.

  2. Ingrid Schlueter says:

    Marilyn, I feel the same way. I have people that I loved and trusted, or at the very least, thought were friends who just walked out of my (and Tom’s) life without a backward look. Not even a card at Christmas. Nothing. Some of them were people I knew through my work. People I had known since childhood (over 40 years!) that I assumed were Christian friends. Poof. That is the hardest thing to accept. You ask yourself, how could I not have seen that this wasn’t friendship? How could these people have no conscience like this? On the other hand, Tom and I are both thankful to no longer be laboring under illusions. Just tell it like it is. Either you love us or you don’t. No more pretense at Christian fellowship and concern. God has gotten rid of the fake and given us a very select number of gems — friends who have earned the name, and I pray we can always be the same to them.

  3. Christina says:

    Growing up I never had “true” friends. They were friends because I didnt want them to be enemies….it would have been much worse off. In high school I was hurt badly by them. I put up a shield for a long time and it took and still takes time for me to have close friends. Maturing as a christian and choosing friends carefully I now have a few close friends that I am so thankful for.

    I like what George Washington said: “Be courteous to all, but intimate with few, and let those few be well tried before you give them your confidence.”

  4. carolyn says:

    What a painful post (for me). Some of whom I thought were my closest friends, according to the saying you noted Ingrid, truly “never were”. Those are wounds that do not easily close. But there is always beauty in the ashes for those in Christ – I do praise God for my salvation in Christ who is now my best Friend of all, and for a wonderful godly husband and our wonderful true friendship.

    When it comes to friendship, I think of some Scriptures:
    Prov 17:17 – a friend loves at all times
    Prov 18:24 – a true friend sticks closer than a brother
    Prov 27:6 – the wounds of a friend are faithful (and beware of friends who don’t challenge you when you are in the wrong, those are not friends at all, but according to the rest of this proverb, are actually enemies!)
    Luke 5:20 – friend, your sins are forgiven (now are not those the most beautiful words!?)
    And of course one:
    John 15:12-14 “This is My commandment, that you love one another, just as I have loved you. “Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends. “You are My friends if you do what I command you.

    PS: while his points on friendship were well taken, I have nothing to do with Viola for theological reasons.

  5. Ingrid Schlueter says:

    *Sigh* Carolyn. Missed it. Sorry. No, I’m not going emergent. I just saw this today on somebody’s FB page and thought it was good. Some of the others have good quotes on friendship, but I’m not vouching for any of their theology either.

  6. carolyn says:

    No need to apologize, and LOL, I KNOW you aren’t going emergent. HAHAHA, no worries there, I know your doctrine and character friend, and if I thought you were heading otherwise, I’d speak up. I agree, the quotes on friendship are good, but we don’t vouch for their theology.

    I do feel the pain of your other two commenters (above my post), I had the same reaction to this post as they did. Your own follow up comments also were right on, especially the part about how you are not laboring under illusions, that is a gift of matchless worth. I want that too, for I fear I have labored far too long under illusions of friends who truly weren’t. Your analysis of how God sifted out the fake and left you with real gems, beautiful.

    I so appreciate this blog, God’s given you a gift of communication of truth that is nourishing to my soul.

  7. Donna says:

    This topic is close to my heart. I am blessed with a small circle of true friends. I know that they will always act in my interest, and that includes being honest when they feel I am wrong. I know that they are there for me, share my happiness, and would be there in a heartbeat if I needed them. I know that they have constructive relationships with their own husbands and families and that they choose to live positive and worthwhile lives. But I only was able to recognize and obtain true friends when I became clear about the ones with whom I was only passing time and let them go. I squandered a lot of time and energy over people who weren’t worth either.

  8. In the sticks says:

    Your post today just reminds me of the truth I’ve known for a long time, but wish weren’t true. I have no true friends. Not for lack of trying, but nonetheless that’s the way it is. I have always been the listening ear and steadfast one, but that has never been returned. I think that is the hardest thing to face at mid-life. It’s not so much that my “best years are over”, but that there seems to be no one to share what’s left of my time here with.

  9. Judi says:

    “Feeling safe with someone about sums it up.”
    I agree, Ingrid. That is my barometer for evaluating the state of my friendships.

    And “True friends are a rare thing.” So very true. I do have some friends though who live far away, and because of the busy-ness of our lives, our contact is very limited. But get us together again, and we’re right back where we left off. And I know that they love me, and I feel safe with them.

    In the sticks–I feel your pain. It is natural to desire human friendships. Never give up hope, but keep praying. However, even more important than our human friendships, the best of which only is a picture of the real thing, comes from The One who says, “I have loved you with an everlasting love.” Cling to That Friend, Who will never fail.

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