What Prevents Close Friendships? (Y1.T2.D50)
A Psychology Today article about the secret to close friendships states:
A global study by Snap Inc. polled 10,000 people aged 13–75 from nine countries and found that, for most of us, honesty tops the list. Disclosing what we’re thinking and feeling helps us build trust and intimacy.
With that said, honesty alone doesn't help us keep close friends. Healthy relationships require fairness and reciprocation. Imbalance prevents closeness, leading instead to confusion and hurt. Consider the characteristics of a one-sided friend from an article on healthline.com:
It’s all about them . . .When you spend time together, they tend to decide what you do and insist on having things their way instead of considering your opinion.
They don’t open up . . .They might deflect questions about their personal life and avoid sharing anything beyond superficial details about themselves.
You can’t count on them . . . Perhaps you recently volunteered to help your friend move at the last minute. But when you find your dream apartment and ask for moving help, they fail to reply to any of your messages. They might also: regularly cancel or forget plans, show annoyance or frustration with you for no clear reason, or even break your trust by sharing personal information with others.
I'm blessed to have a strong network of close friends. But this wasn't always the case.
The first prayer partner I ever had was beautiful, strong, and loving. We bonded out of our belief and commitment to Jesus. A few months later, we became part of a monthly prayer group. For years, five of us would rotate hosting the meeting. Our ground rules included: confidentiality, no advice-giving, and praying longer than we chatted. This last one meant if our gathering was for an hour, we would spend at least thirty-one minutes speaking to God.
We share honest and painful revelations about what was going on in our lives which meant we kept a box of tissue in the center of the circle.
I've maintained a good relationship with all but one of those ladies. The friendship that didn't last was with the prayer partner I mentioned before. She was someone I could count on, and she never made the meeting all about her. But she failed to maintain a closeness to me because she was unwilling to share her problems.
When I found out her life had been imploding for a while, I was hurt. All the teaching and guiding she continued to offer felt condescending. I didn't only want someone I could trust, but someone who trusted me in return.
Jesus is not different. While he offers the greatest love one friend can offer another—"lay down his life for his friends" (John 15:13)—he also said, "If a man doesn’t remain in me, he is thrown out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them, throw them into the fire, and they are burned" (John 15:6).
This leads me to examine if I'm being one-sided with Jesus.
Do I make all my conversations with him about me and my needs? Do I resist telling him the most awful and ugly parts of me? Can he count on me? Do I cancel plans I've made to be with him?
Yikes, that last one hurt. I'm guilty of being one-sided with the one who calls me friend (John 15:15).
The good news is that today is a new day. I don't have to wait to make an appointment to meet with him and apologize; I can bow my head or look to heaven and ask him to help me be a better friend to him than I currently am.
Jesus Is My BFF
1 “Don’t let your heart be troubled. Believe in God. Believe also in me. 2 In my Father’s house are many homes. If it weren’t so, I would have told you. I am going to prepare a place for you. 3 If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and will receive you to myself; that where I am, you may be there also. 4 You know where I go, and you know the way.”
5 Thomas said to him, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going. How can we know the way?”
6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father, except through me. 7 If you had known me, you would have known my Father also. From now on, you know him, and have seen him.”
8 Philip said to him, “Lord, show us the Father, and that will be enough for us.”
9 Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you such a long time, and do you not know me, Philip? He who has seen me has seen the Father. How do you say, ‘Show us the Father?’ 10 Don’t you believe that I am in the Father, and the Father in me? The words that I tell you, I speak not from myself; but the Father who lives in me does his works. 11 Believe me that I am in the Father, and the Father in me; or else believe me for the very works’ sake. 12 Most certainly I tell you, he who believes in me, the works that I do, he will do also; and he will do greater works than these, because I am going to my Father. 13 Whatever you will ask in my name, I will do it, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 If you will ask anything in my name, I will do it. 15 If you love me, keep my commandments. 16 I will pray to the Father, and he will give you another Counselor, that he may be with you forever: 17 the Spirit of truth, whom the world can’t receive; for it doesn’t see him and doesn’t know him. You know him, for he lives with you, and will be in you. 18 I will not leave you orphans. I will come to you. 19 Yet a little while, and the world will see me no more; but you will see me. Because I live, you will live also. 20 In that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you. 21 One who has my commandments and keeps them, that person is one who loves me. One who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him, and will reveal myself to him.”
22 Judas (not Iscariot) said to him, “Lord, what has happened that you are about to reveal yourself to us, and not to the world?”
23 Jesus answered him, “If a man loves me, he will keep my word. My Father will love him, and we will come to him, and make our home with him. 24 He who doesn’t love me doesn’t keep my words. The word which you hear isn’t mine, but the Father’s who sent me. 25 I have said these things to you while still living with you. 26 But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things, and will remind you of all that I said to you. 27 Peace I leave with you. My peace I give to you; not as the world gives, I give to you. Don’t let your heart be troubled, neither let it be fearful. 28 You heard how I told you, ‘I go away, and I come to you.’ If you loved me, you would have rejoiced, because I said ‘I am going to my Father;’ for the Father is greater than I. 29 Now I have told you before it happens so that when it happens, you may believe. 30 I will no more speak much with you, for the prince of the world comes, and he has nothing in me. 31 But that the world may know that I love the Father, and as the Father commanded me, even so I do. Arise, let’s go from here.
1 “I am the true vine, and my Father is the farmer. 2 Every branch in me that doesn’t bear fruit, he takes away. Every branch that bears fruit, he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. 3 You are already pruned clean because of the word which I have spoken to you. 4 Remain in me, and I in you. As the branch can’t bear fruit by itself unless it remains in the vine, so neither can you, unless you remain in me. 5 I am the vine. You are the branches. He who remains in me and I in him bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. 6 If a man doesn’t remain in me, he is thrown out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them, throw them into the fire, and they are burned. 7 If you remain in me, and my words remain in you, you will ask whatever you desire, and it will be done for you.
8 “In this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; and so you will be my disciples. 9 Even as the Father has loved me, I also have loved you. Remain in my love. 10 If you keep my commandments, you will remain in my love; even as I have kept my Father’s commandments, and remain in his love. 11 I have spoken these things to you, that my joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be made full.
12 “This is my commandment, that you love one another, even as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. 14 You are my friends, if you do whatever I command you. 15 No longer do I call you servants, for the servant doesn’t know what his lord does. But I have called you friends, for everything that I heard from my Father, I have made known to you. 16 You didn’t choose me, but I chose you and appointed you, that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain; that whatever you will ask of the Father in my name, he may give it to you. (John 14:1–15:16)
Being Your friend means walking together in agreement (Amos 3:3). I come to You, bringing all that weighs me down knowing You will give me rest. Help me take Your yoke upon me. Help me learn from You because You are gentle and humble in heart. And in You my soul finds rest—Your yoke is easy, and Your burden is light (Matthew 11:28–30).
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