The Art of Being There for Each Other
“Our souls ache for a place of deep encounter with others… We want companions for the journey, companions with whom we can share our soul and our journey.”
– David Benner, Sacred Companions
A few weeks ago, we had the joy of seeing many friends from far and wide during Rhema’s Winter Bible Seminar. I am always reminded how richly blessed Tony and I have been to experience such good friendships throughout our 40-plus years since moving to Oklahoma to attend school. It also reminded me how important it is to nurture those friendships, to spend time and effort to reconnect, and to catch up on each other’s life journeys.
There are social skills that can be utilized and sharpened in every relationship. There is an intimacy that can be shared through a trusting vulnerability that must be honored and protected. There is also a joy in knowing and feeling known that comes through close relationships. All these components of friendships are meant to be a blessing to each individual within the relationship, and having this as our goal requires us to “be there” for each other.
I believe there is an art to being a good friend. “Talented” friends know how to do the following things:
- Listen without being self-preoccupied.
- Encourage rather than judging or criticizing.
- Care deeply about their friend’s well being, naturally and spiritually.
- Be willing to do life together through the ups and downs.
- Know when it’s time to weep, time to laugh, time to mourn, and time to dance with your friend (Ecclesiastes 3:4).
- Know your friend’s love language and be willing to “speak” it into their lives.
- Be eager to learn how to be a better friend.
I’m sure we have all noticed how some friends are closer friends than others. I have enjoyed a wide variety of friendships and am thankful for them all. Some friends I will go deep with, others I may only go so far as fun chitchat. But all of them contribute to the very vital sense of connection that most every human longs for, so I believe it is important to cherish every kind of friendship.
Ephesians 4:32 is the classic Bible verse for developing great relationships. The New Living Translation renders it: “Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.”
Being with someone who is kind and tenderhearted is such a joy, such a safe person to be your true self with. I have one friend in particular who epitomizes these qualities in her manner and in her conversations with me. I come away from every contact with her feeling deeply loved and appreciated.
If we look for these qualities in people that we want to be friends with, then it is obvious that we ourselves should be kind and tenderhearted in our relationships with others. The Holy Spirit within us is always available to transform us into the image of Christ, so if we consider ourselves to be lacking in kindness and tenderheartedness, we need only to avail ourselves to His holy work in us. Kindness and tenderheartedness are such needed gifts—both to give and receive—in the challenging world in which we live.
Loving gracefully within your variety of friendships will always require the gift of forgiveness, for even close friends can inadvertently experience misunderstandings and hurtful actions toward each other. How quick we can be to assume the hurt was intentional. Love instead believes the best. 1 Corinthians 13:7 in the Amplified Version reveals that love “is ever ready to believe the best of every person.”
Believing the best as your first response in any friendship is to give that relationship the opportunity to grow deeper and more fulfilling. Always be quick to forgive and quick to ask forgiveness when needed, for perfection is never a realistic expectation of any human being, including your own self. Proverbs 19:11 asserts, “A man’s insight gives him patience, and his virtue is to overlook an offense.”
Friends will often give gifts to each other to express their love or gratitude, and the gifts of kindness, tenderheartedness, and forgiveness are perfect ways to “be there” for each other throughout life’s journey.