Friendship is an interesting dynamic. At her high school graduation, my father-in-law told my wife that if she could look back in a few years and count her true friends on one hand, using all five fingers, she should count herself truly blessed. Lindsey comments now on just how odd her father’s statement seemed at the time. But fast-forward about twenty years, and the old man was right.
It’s easy to think we have lots of friends, especially in a social media-driven culture, when you have a few thousand followers on Facebook, and even more on Twitter, but when it comes to real life, we mostly all have lots of acquaintances. Maybe they are acquaintances we are especially fond of for a season, but look at these quotes on the meaning of true friendship:
The last one is my favorite. All sorts of things happen to us that shake and rattle the carton, threatening to crack us. But the true friend chooses to see you entirely, and love you because of, not in spite of, your imperfections and quirks.
Do you have a friend like this?
The ugly truth: chances are, less than 1% of your “friends” on social media are real friends, willing to weather the storms of life with you, sit with you when everything has crumbled, and help you rebuild when you are penniless and desperate.
These days, we are consumed with busyness, bombarded with noise, and the notifications on our smartphones are like a dripping faucet in a silent house, convincing us that the only way to win is to play the comparison game with everyone else. Unfortunately, doing so ensures that everyone loses. We are miserable and exhausted. And despite the fact that 68% of Americans now use Facebook – and 88% of those 18-29 use any and all forms of social media – we are still lonely.
Good news: there is one person who travels with you through every hill and valley, stays with you in the dark night of the soul, and knows your every secret sin and silent hope. That person stares back at you in the mirror each morning, begging you to be his or her true friend.
You are the only constant throughout your whole life. Are you going to be a friend or foe? A true friend, or just an acquaintance? Are you going to show yourself compassion when life tries to break you, and celebrate every small victory? Call me crazy, but the greatest gift you can offer yourself is the gift of true friendship.
Speak to yourself with kindness in all situations.
Listen to your own needs and desires.
Don’t read your own press – good or bad.
Be patient with yourself as you recover from all that has wounded you.
Do whatever you can to care for yourself.
Only to the extent that you are willing to treat yourself with kindness and respect, will you be able to truly become a friend to others. Go ahead, friend yourself today.
Steve Austin is an author, speaker, and life coach who is passionate about helping overwhelmed people learn to catch their breath. He is the author of two Amazon bestsellers, "Catching Your Breath," and "From Pastor to a Psych Ward." Steve lives with his wife and two children in Birmingham, Alabama.
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