The older I get, the more I realize how important it is to me to have quality friendships and true friends. Most of us will go through life with many friendships, but few of us will have true friends. While going through some old e-mails, I came across this article from LifeWay that talks about the types of friends we need to round out our circle of friends. At work, at church, and in life, we all need friends; and we all need to be a friend. Which type of friend are you?
A friend loves at all times, according to Proverbs 17:17. But not all friends love in the same way. To round out your circle of friends, add these:
• On-Your-Knees Friend. “The greatest role my friends fulfill in my life is as pray-ers,” says Janet Holm McHenry, author of My Prayer Buddy Devotional: For a Sisterhood of Prayer Partners. With four kids and a busy career as a high school teacher, she says, “I always have some need for prayer, and I’ve found that my deepest relationships are those with the women who pray with and for me.”
• Go-for-the-Gusto Friend. Your idea of a great vacation is a mountain cabin filled with good food and a big-screen TV. His is hiking to the highest peak and rappelling down. Why not join in the adventure once in a while? It just might do you some good. After all, it feels great to get out of our comfort zones now and then, right?
• All-in-the-Family Friend. After her mother died, Susie Ratliff found a new friend in her mom’s sister. “Our relationship has grown since Mother died,” she says. “Shelley is not a substitute mom, but we love each other and we’ve helped each other through grief by sharing past memories and building new ones.”
• Puzzle-Piece Friend. This friend fills in your gaps. Laurie Copeland, co-author of The Groovy Chicks’ Road Trip to Peace, says, “I spent many years making friends with people just like me. But my best relationships have been with people who were my polar opposite. Like Rocky Balboa said [of Adrian], ‘She’s got gaps, I got gaps; together we fill gaps.’ We may rub each other wrong at times, but we become better people because of our differences.”
• Been-There-Before Friend. Mentoring expert Edna Ellison says we all need “a friend who’s further along in her spiritual development, who walks alongside you, counseling and guiding you toward a closer walk with God.” Mentors can also lead us into a more satisfying career, help us make savvy financial and family decisions, and steer us toward Christ-centered priorities. Ellison says we can be that friend to another when we “share our wisdom, no matter how small it is, with another who needs to know what we’ve learned from God about life.”
• Younger Friend. The Apostle Paul poured his life into two younger friends, Timothy and Titus. He called them “young sons in the faith.” We all need someone we can pour our lives into and who can remind us to stay hopeful and look to the future. Carolyn Curtis, editor of On Mission magazine, notes, “I seek out younger friends because they provide me with a fresh perspective, one that’s informed by the hope of youth and energized by their expectations of what’s ahead.”
• You’ve-Got-Mail Friend. Though separated by many miles, this friend knows the meaning of KIT (keep in touch). Montana wife, mom, and writer Tricia Goyer started an e-mail support group nearly 10 years ago after meeting several women at a conference. “As aspiring writers, we faced many of the same struggles,” she says. “We share what’s happening in our lives; then we follow up.” Members of the group have gone through infertility, family deaths, lost jobs, and big moves. Through e-mail, they’ve been able to “mourn with those who mourn, rejoice with those who rejoice, and pray without ceasing for one another’s needs,” Goyer says.
• Non-Christian Friend. No doubt about it: We need Christian friends to walk with us through life. But we also need non-Christian friends. They keep us in touch with the world we live in. They ask questions that challenge us to know why we believe what we do. When we surround ourselves only with people like us, we miss out on wonderful relationships and opportunities for growth. The key is not to approach a friend as a soul-winning project but to offer respect and to invest in a life. You might be surprised by what God has in store for that friend through your influence.
• Accountable Friend. Julie Morris meets with her accountability partner every week for an hour to pray and discuss their lives. “We also talk about any problems we’re having and what we think the Lord would have us do about them,” Morris says. “We don’t lecture each other; we ask thought-provoking questions such as ‘How could you have made more effective choices?’”
• At-All-Times Friend. “A friend is one who knows you and loves you just the same,” according to Elbert Hubbard. That’s the friend who’s known you forever and loves you in good times and bad. Eva Marie Everson, a novelist living in Florida, says, “The joy of having this kind of friend is that no matter what, no matter how much time goes by without a call or without seeing each other, no matter the different roads we choose to take and then walk down — this [friend] knows me inside out and upside down.”
• Common-Ground Friend. This is a friend who loves an activity as much as you do — hiking, tennis, movies, coffee — and is always eager to join. Or maybe it’s a friend with kids the same age as your kids, someone who can provide small doses of sanity and “so I’m not the only one who feels that!” relief in the midst of life.
• You-Can-Do-It Friend. When we hit the proverbial wall, our children embarrass us in front of the preacher, or a seemingly impossible work deadline looms, we need a cheerleader who will say, “You’re doing great” or, “You’re almost there. Keep going!”
• Truthful Friend. We all need a friend who can offer an objective opinion. That’s someone you trust completely who loves you enough to look you in the eyes and gently tell you when you’re on the wrong path or making a bad choice.
• Creative-Soul Friend. This friend helps you see the world in a new way by introducing you to new music and encouraging you to make what could be the most mundane chore — from gardening to home remodeling — into art. This friend reminds you to see what’s beautiful in the world and brings out the creative flair that’s been lying dormant.
• Say-Nothing Friend. “True friendship,” wrote David Tyson Gentry, “comes when silence between two people is comfortable.” When we’re going through hard times, sometimes we need someone who will just be there.
• In-Need Friend. Ecclesiastes 4:10-11 says, “If either falls, his companion can lift him up; but pity the one who falls without another to lift him up.” We need friends in need who we can lift up and help, friends who make us take our eyes off ourselves if even for a moment.
• Call-Out-My-Name Friend. Who hasn’t been stirred up by the lyrics from Carole King’s “You’ve Got a Friend” made famous by James Taylor: “You just call out my name, and you know wherever I am, I’ll come running …” That’s the kind of friend Jesus is, and it’s the kind of friend that those who love Him can be in each other’s lives.
Friends are one of God’s greatest gifts to us. As Beth Kephart writes in her book Into the Tangle of Friendship: “Throughout our lives, friends enclose us, like pairs of parentheses. They shift our boundaries, crater our terrain. … They are the antidote, not to our aloneness, but to our loneliness.”
Dena Dyer is a writer with credits in more than 125 magazines. She’s also the author of Grace for the Race: Meditations for Busy Moms and co-author of The Groovy Chicks’ Road Trip to Peace. Visit her Web site at www.denadyer.com.