Erin Rathier

musings of a ragtag heart

Did you know yesterday, was National Friend Day?  It is always the first Sunday of August.  I know most of these holidays were created for commercial purposes.  However recently, friendships, and the lack thereof, have been the topic of many conversations, so I thought we should talk about them.  We will have many friends in this life, but today, I want to talk about finding those few, close, “I would do anything for you” type of friends.

Why is it so hard to make friends as adults?  You would think, as we get older, friendships would be easier, but they just aren’t.  I am sure we could list many reasons we are not good with friendships, but who wants to think about anything negative?  Instead, let’s explore five ways we can foster good, strong friendships.

Anytime I think about true friendship, I think about David and Jonathan in the Bible. This account is found in 1 Samuel.   As we jump into chapter 18, David has just killed Goliath, and King Saul has inquired about David.  In verses 1-4, we are told, there is a friendship brewing between the King’s son, Jonathan, and David.  The Bible tells us in, “Jonathan became one in spirit with David,  and he loved him as himself.” (v.1)

As we continue through the story, we find out, David was wildly successful in the King’s Army.  This success, caused King Saul (Jonathan’s father) to become very jealous and angry.  In fact, verse 12 tells us Saul was afraid of David, because “the Lord was with David but had departed from Saul.”  If you have not read this incredible story, I encourage you, open a Bible or google 1 Samuel 18, and start reading.  It is an exciting story, with a great deal of action as Saul begins to chase and hunt David.  David even has a chance to kill Saul, but walks away (seriously, you have to read it).  Through it all, Jonathan remained loyal to David.  Even guarding David’s life at times.  It is an amazing account of friendship.  The question is, what can we learn about friendship from Jonathan and David?

Friends Pin

 1.  Follow God:  Often times, we seek out friendships on our own.  We see someone with a quality we admire and we try to get into their world, and invite them into ours.  We attempt to make friends with people who will fill a need for us, or make us feel important.  While that is not entirely wrong, it can result in disappointment on our part.

As I think about the story of David and Jonathan, I have to wonder if that friendship was designed by God from the beginning?  David was chosen by God to be King, and we know Jesus came from David’s lineage, so David was important.  Without Jonathan, Saul very likely would have killed David…so what do you think?  Designed by God?

As we think about friendships, true, deep, friendships, I think we are remiss if we do not ask God who He has planned for us?  Could the friendships we make today be more than just someone to banter with at work, or make funny comments to on social media?  Could it be that the friends God has planned for us are people He knows we will need, and who will need us?

So #1, ask God to show you who He has planned for you?  Someone could be right in front of you and you have been looking in the wrong direction.

2.  Invite:   I am sure most of you remember the old saying, “To have a friend, you must be a friend.”  One of the things I have ‘heard’, not only with actions, but also verbally is, “If they want me around they will ask me.”  Blech!!  That seriously makes me want to throw up!  No matter how this sentiment is stated, it angers me.

Maybe there is a person in front of you right now, and you feel like you should be friends.  Or maybe you have had a friend for a long time.  If you are always sitting around waiting for that person to invite you somewhere, and never doing the inviting, you are not BEING a friend.

In fact, when people do this to me, I feel like they are actually waiting for me to fail, so they can be a victim…it is not attractive…AT ALL!  I hate to say it, but you will probably not have many friends if this is you.   Being friends means both parties are making efforts.  Both are reaching out and drawing in.  Both are offering invitations and both are accepting.

3. Bring Them Home:  Not only do I believe both parties should do the inviting, but I also believe, if you want to truly be friends with someone, you should invite them to your home.  Our homes are personal, they are the places where we are vulnerable, where our true selves are revealed.  If you want a true, deep, friendship with someone, bring them to your home.  Sit at your dining room table, relax on your couches, and talk for hours.  When we invite someone to our home, we are saying, “I want you to belong with me.”

4.  Do The Hard Things: If you took my advice and read the story of Jonathan and David, you know that by the time you arrived in 1 Samuel 19, King Saul was putting a plan into action to kill David.  However, Jonathan…Saul’s son…the Prince…took David’s side.  Jonathan put his own life on the line to save his friend.

How often do we set ourselves aside for our friends?  How often do we change our schedules, choose inconvenience, or sacrifice for our friends?  I hope often, but the reality is, we could probably do better.

I have one friend, P, who for 20 years, has dropped everything to help whenever something is wrong in my life.  She will come to me, take my kids, invite us for dinner, do anything to help me in times of trouble.  I have often felt I do not deserve her, because I am not as good a friend.  Even today, I wanted to do something nice for a friend having a tough day.  I almost decided it was too hot outside, and the small thing I wanted to do would not really matter.

Being a friend means showing up.  Offering love.  Standing in the gap.  Even sometimes being the voice of truth.  Doing the hard things.

5.  Celebrate:  This is the fun part!  Celebrate your friends.  Celebrate the big things, and celebrate the small things.  Dance, sing, send cards and gifts.   As a true friend, your friends’ wins, are your wins, and you should celebrate!

I strongly believe having strong friendships is more about what WE do.  When we offer love, acceptance, and care, we will usually find it in return.  There are times, however, when we give, and invite, and care, and it is never returned.  Maybe that person needs a little bit more of the Jesus we have to offer, and we need to keep trying.  Every once in awhile though, we may have to acknowledge the friendship we are pursuing, is not receiving.  It may be time to go back to step one and talk to God about who He has planned for us.

I came to that very point a year ago.  I talk about it in my post titled Circle of Influence.  I had been pursuing friendships and not getting anywhere.  Unsettled, I decided to spend some time with God.  He redirected my heart, showing me the people He had for me.  People like Jonathan.

This year, I celebrated National Friend Day.  I hope you did as well.  If not, I hope this year, you find your Jonathan!

Thank you so much for reading today.  Please comment below and let me know what you feel is important in friendship, or how someone has been like Jonathon to you lately.  If you do not know this God of mine, I would love to share Him.  Please feel free to send me an email or message on social media.  I always love to pray with and for people!

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2 thoughts on “5 Ways To Build Strong Friendships

  1. gallowaymusings says:

    Love this! David and Jonathon’s friendship is so encouraging, and I enjoyed the tips you added!

    1. erinrathier says:

      Thank you so much for reading, and for the encouragement!

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