The Kind of Friend I Want to Be

I have been thinking a lot lately about friendship.  I have been blessed with many wonderful friends throughout my life, and I hope that I am as good a friend in return.  So, I started thinking: “what makes a good friend?”  I started building an idea gathered from what I would want from a friend, what I have seen from my own friends, & wisdom from the ultimate source, the Bible, and here’s what I’ve got so far:

A good friend is – loving, kind, accepting, forgiving, encouraging, honest, loyal

A good friend is not – self-centered, demeaning, indulgent

Let’s start with the nots first, since there are fewer of them.
Self-centered: I know that I am guilty of this.  I can easily get completely absorbed with my own issues – how I feel, what I’m thinking, what I need.  When I’m so focused on myself, I don’t leave any thought or energy to think of others, to think of my friends around me – how they feel, what they are thinking, what they need.
Demeaning: a friend should lift you up, not tear you down.  This is the opposite of encouraging, which I believe a friend should be.  I hope that I would never be guilty of this; it is not nice & very unfriendly.
Indulgent: a friend that is too tolerant is not helping to grow the other person.  How can you be iron that sharpens iron (Prov. 27:17) if you have blunted all of your edges to keep from hurting anyone?  You can see the fine line appearing to balance between accepting, forgiving, & indulging.  It is one that takes lots of prayer to navigate.

So that leaves what a friend is.
Loving: “A friend loves at all times” Proverbs 17:17  Loving at all times means infusing everything you do with love.  Love is the basis of friendship.
Kind: “Anyone who withholds kindness from a friend forsakes the fear of the Almighty” Job 6:14  That sounds serious.  Some of these attributes start to intertwine & overlap, but they are all subtly different & important.
Accepting: We are all made differently; we all have our own flaws, our own struggles.  A friend accepts your differences, accepts you as you are.
Forgiving: “Be kind & compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you” Ephesians 4:32  Everyone messes up, makes mistakes, is wrong whether knowingly or unknowingly at some point in their lives – well, at many points.  We all need forgiveness, and not one of us has the right to withhold it.
Encouraging: A friend helps you see your good points, reassures you when you are uncertain, & lifts you up when you are down all through encouraging words.
Honest: A friend is straight-up with you. Thanks to the aforementioned kindness, the honesty is tempered with love and is therefore helpful & not hurtful.
Loyal: A friend is supportive, gives you the benefit of the doubt, and stands by you even through tough times.  A good friend does not abandon you.

In listing all of these things, I am giving myself a model to strive toward and holding myself accountable to it.  I’m not claiming to be all-knowing or even a good source for information; I’m just sharing my thoughts.  It hopefully didn’t become too sanctimonious because I am preaching to myself more than anyone else.  It’s funny how the mind can know all of these things, but they somehow don’t always make it through to our words or actions.
I want to live this out.
I want to be a friend worth having.
I want to be a great friend.

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