“Your dad is the best friend I’ve ever had,” the man told me, his wife nodding in agreement. If my calculations were correct, this couple had known my dad for no more than a year and a half, two years at the most. Later that day, an old family friend said the same thing.
What a powerful testimony!
Those two brief conversations sparked an internal dialogue that’s continued for the past year: What does it take to be a good — a really good — friend? Here are some lessons in meaningful friendships from observing what my dad and others do, both naturally and intentionally:
Be a Selfless Listener
There are times for two-way conversations, but sometimes a friend just needs a listening ear. A selfless listener doesn’t need to make her point or talk about herself. She asks questions and is genuinely curious about others.
Friendship Is an Open Door
My dad and stepmom have company all the time and always offer a warm welcome and simple hospitality. Although they’ve moved to a new state, they remain in close contact with family, friends, and former neighbors, who visit often.
She’s Got Your Back
A good friend will tell you if she thinks you’re about to make a big mistake, even if you don’t want to hear it. With a true friend, you can agree to disagree. She will let you know when there’s toilet paper stuck to your shoe, or lipstick or spinach in your teeth.
Friends Don’t Gossip about Other Friends
If you gossip, don’t expect your friends to trust you. They’ll assume you talk about them too. Being a gossip is a surefire way not to make good friends.
Through Thick and Thin
A good friend doesn’t desert you when you need her the most, but makes time to talk; she answers the phone or returns the call. True friends reveal themselves in times of crisis.
Last weekend I attended my sister’s birthday party. She had a hard summer and spent a lot of time at home alone. Because she missed her friends, she invited them to her home to celebrate with her. She worried it would be an un-party since she didn’t feel well enough to cook or prepare and she hosted it herself.
But when I called to wish her happy birthday that morning I could hear the smile in her voice. She awoke to find her husband had decorated the house and made a homemade pizza and a cake for the party.
Fourteen of us celebrated together that day, an eclectic mix of the people in her life. Although many introductions were made, the group was bound together by their love of and loyalty to my sister.
She has an enviable support network; I believe that allowing herself to be vulnerable with her friends has drawn them closer to her.
What characteristics have you noticed in the strongest friendships? What are some ways we can be truly good friends?
“A friend loveth at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.”
Leave a Comment
Michele Morin says
Dawn, I’m so blessed by the friendships God has given, especially when I realize how many of them have stood the test of time. We’ve hung in there in spite of all the other things in life that have come and gone. Thanks for giving us something to aspire to with your words today.
Dawn Camp says
Michele, sometimes you have to learn about friendship the hard way to maintain them so long—congratulations on the long-term friendships in your life!
Bev @ Walking Well With God says
Before I comment on your post, I just have to point out what a good friend and prayer warrior Leanne Porterfield is to all the women here at (in)courage. She listened, prayed, and responded to all the requests posted here yesterday. She is the definition of a true friend – a prayer warrior in time of need!! I wholeheartedly agree that true friends are there in times of crisis. When your ship is sinking, they are the ones there with the life preserver. True friendship takes all the things you mentioned and a willingness to work at friendship. Like a marriage, friendship, if left unattended, will wither. Great post and wonderful reminders, Dawn!
Dawn Camp says
I love to see friendship at work here in the (in)courage comment box. Thank you for pointing this out to me!
Michele Green says
I have a few friends that I have known for years, but they live states away, I am just retired from teaching and I long to make and have friends, we recently moved to be closer to my grandchildren so I am looking to find new friends where I live now, please pray with me that the Lord would bring women into my life that long for the same thing
praying for you now! Thanking God in advance for what He’s going to do in your life. Blessings!
Dawn Camp says
Michele, lately I’ve seen grandmothers out with their grandchildren and I can’t wait to get to that stage. My first grandchild is a 5 months old and the second one hasn’t arrived. You might even find new friends through your grandchildren. 🙂
Praying for you
Praying you find some wonderful friends. I envy you for retiring from teaching. I have a few more years to go and it is so hard in the district I am in. enjoy this season of your life. I know the Lord will bring the right friends along to meet your needs and for you to meet their needs. Get the coffee pot ready. They are coming!
Ann Watkins says
Oh, I so relate to this. I too am a retired teacher and my husband and I relocated half across the country to be with our grands and help run them places, help our daughter with starting meals etc. I was so lonely for adult women companionship even though I had my husband and grandchildren loving on me. I prayed for close friends. It does take time to build relationships. God gave me other things to fill my voids like Bible journaling, a Bible study group and an artist group to join. I am slowing making some dear friends. Sadly to say my daughter, husband, and grandchildren had to relocate 18 hours away with a new job. What? Our hearts were broken. At times I am still unsettled but I know God is working in my life and saying to me to delight in Him and He is there holding my hand. Be patient and it will come about in His time. I would love to be your friend.
Beth Williams says
Praying that God will send some great friends your way. One thing I found that has helped me make friends is getting a little involved in church. Try a women’s Bible study or other church activity. God knows your needs & He will answer you at the right time.
I’m one of those people with 2 or 3 very good friends, tops. When I met my best friend, I figured we would only be friends for the season of a job we both worked at and that would be that. But she continued calling me, emailing me, basically pursuing our friendship. It made me feel special and needed. To me, that’s an important part of friendship that I would like to cultivate more, to be the one calling people, checking on them, doing my part to grow the friendship. And truth be told, sometimes friendships just don’t take. But I’ll always be grateful to my bffl for not giving up on me or our friendship. We’re going on 20 years and we email nearly every day. I thank God for her and hope God will use me to make someone else feel special and needed.
Misty Dolph says
I love this and needed to hear it today! So often I’ve felt like I’m the one pursuing my friendships. At times I get weary and think it’s just not worth it. I think if they loved me they would pursue me at times. What a refreshing thought to actually WANT to be the one pursuing and nurturing friendships. Maybe if I look at it as a blessing instead of a trial my heart will change.
Dawn Camp says
Lou, that’s wonderful! Yes, sometimes friendships must be pursued, especially in a circumstance like this, when you no longer worked together. What a great story!
Thank you for your thoughts about friendship. They give me the opportunity to express gratitude to a woman who has been a best friend to me for over 20 years. She has seen the good, the bad and the ugly in me. She has a prayer journal just for me and prays for me daily. She has laughed with me, cried with me, and sat quietly with me. I am honored to be her friend and am blessed our 2 families spend quality time together. She is indeed my sister-friend.
Dawn Camp says
Renee, I can’t even imagine having a friend with a prayer journal just for me. This woman is special!
To me a good friend is someone who understands that some of us have limitations due to physical or emotional health challenges that leave us unable to participate in certain activities, but still try to stay in touch. Between text messaging, Facebook and e mail it is easier than ever to do so! Also, a good friend is someone who listens when you are talking and if it is about bad times doesn’t tell you “don’t worry”, unless a person is going through something themself they cannot know what you are feeling. And finally, a good friend never says they have gone through the same thing you have, prayed and God worked it out for them, because that can leave a person feeling that their faith in God is not as strong if they still live with that issue.
Dawn Camp says
Carol, thank you for your insights. I have seen the limits you speak about in my own family and yes, they require extra—and sometimes more creative—friendship efforts.
What a beautiful devotional and wonderful reminder. Hospitality isn’t stressing to clean the house or make the perfect meal, it’s making others feel welcomed and cared for like a warm hug. I’m praying that I can remember this now as I host various things in my home but also remember this as the holidays are fast approaching. Simplicity in love.
Dawn Camp says
Rebecca, we had a house full of teens last night and the house was a wreck (because of us, not them!). We expect another house full next weekend. We can wait until things are perfect or we can invite our people into our lives. Perfect isn’t going to happen in this lifetime.
My hubby and I , we are not good in this friendship area. We try and sometimes ppl take advantage of us. We try n sometimes we are disappointed.
We struggle in this area of friendship.
Maybe the problem lies with us. Maybe not.
Pray with us please that God grants us good godly friends and that we may be a blessing to others too in the area of friendship.
Dawn Camp says
Oh, Sheena. I hope God brings good friends into your life and you don’t weary of well doing. (Galatians 6:9)
Good Morning, I’m a Christian so I know I have to forgive, but don’t know how to forget and move forward. I’ve been friends with Carol for about 7 years. During that time she has walked out of my life twice when I needed her most. Both times had nothing to do with her and both times I went to her and made peace. I’ve been a good friend to her and always go along with what she wants to do. When her son died suddenly, I was right by her side. Recently she did something that was very hurtful to me. She has been callous towards my feelings in the past but I never said anything, for one because confrontation is hard for me and secondly, for fear she would walk away again. But this time I spoke up and got it thrown back on me. She did not take responsibility for her actions. She is getting married in October and is expecting a lot of sacrifice from me. I chose to take the high road and do what is expected as I know what a big event in her life this is. I know I need to pray for guidance as I truly do not feel valued by her and that I’m in this because of what I can do for her.
Thank you for listening.
Dawn Camp says
Nancy, I am very sorry. I hope your friend will see things clearly and act appropriately, but you have the clear conscience of knowing that you’re treating her well.
Nancy I truly hope what your friend is expecting from you for her wedding is not placing too much of a financial strain on you (as well as an emotional one!). I hope God shows you the direction this friendship should take going forward and puts peace in your heart about it and that you can find other friends who are not just receivers but givers as well.
Kathy Cheek, Devotions from the Heart says
I have found that “through thick and thin” is where I discover who my real friends are, they are through the thick and thin ones!
Thank you Dawn, for these great words on friendship. We sure do need friends especially as women. Though I have moved many times over my life time I have been blessed to keep several friends. I think the ability to be vulnerable is key. That’s how we truly get to know one another and bond.
Amy Burkholder says
I have also had a tough season recently and allowing people in, who only want to bless me, has been very humbling. The other challenge has been when the season goes on for months and you start to get weary, you absolutely need those friends to stay close and keep you encouraged because it can get a bit dark. I’m super thankful for friends near and far who have continued to check on me through this journey. Those that hear the Holy Spirit and text at just the right moment have been angels to me! Thankful for you and your sister in my life as well!
In all honesty, I don’t have any friends outside of the internet. Once my laptop closes, my friends are gone. I go to church, but once church is over I am alone again. (my church is very small and does not have any activities) I go to Zumba class twice a week. Same thing there….I see other ladies, I talk to them, but once class is over, I am once again alone. I am 40 years old, never been married, never had children, no car, and am on disability. So I do not have much money and these people in my life I just have nothing in common with. And just like church and Zumba class, the same rings true with my neighbors. They are either married, have kids, have grandkids, go on vacations, eat at new resteraunts…….and I just don’t have anything in common with any of them. The conversations they do have (usually in a group setting like church or Zumba class) are always about their husbands, kids, grandkids, jobs, vacations, new resteraunts……….how in the world do I participate in conversations like that? I bake cakes and cookies for my church, and everyone loves it. But after church is done, so is my social life. I have many friends online of whom we share common interests. But there is nobody around here locally offline that I can share friendship with. I say hi to people as I walk by them on the street or in stores or at the park. But I feel completely invisible as nothing ever transpires from any of these. 🙁
Miss B. says
Hugs to you, Jasmine! Praying that you will feel God hug you today. May God perfect everything concerning you. God bless!
Thank you very much, Miss B. 🙂
God bless you and hugs back to you as well.
Beth Williams says
So sorry for your situation. Praying God can bring a few friends your way. Sending hugs to you sweet sister!! May you feel God hugging you tightly for me!
Rebecca L Jones says
Everyone needs a good friend.
Beth Williams says
This message is spot on! My best friends are ones I do life with. I have one friend who I got close with by going through trials with her. We were both dealing with aging parents & their health issues. The way I found & made friends was by going to church & getting involved. I do a women’s Bible study & am secretary for our Women’s class. It took some time for me as I was shy. It takes being a good friend. Communicate with each other via phone, text or emails. Pray for each other. Encourage each other.
I love your ideas! I think in our culture friendship has to be intentional. In a fast-paced society with so much clamoring for our attention, I’m noticing that women in my life stage are longing for more quality one-on-one time, and more vulnerable conversation. I have to make the effort to be with my people, to sit with them and listen well.