What characteristics define your picture of the word “friend”? What about a best friend? Are there key qualities which stand out from the rest that a friend must have? I believe there are, and I believe these qualities give significant weight to the way we treat others, ourselves, and the influence by which we decide to embody these qualities and influence others to do the same. Without these qualities, I believe the qualities of friendship corrodes, and I believe that the the behavior we use encourages others to follow suit; whether the influence we follow is the lazy selfishness of dependency, or the compassionate selflessness of a devoted ally.
I will break down my picture of what it means to be a best friend, and I would like you to share with me any qualities you feel should be added in the comments below.
We acquire the strength of compassion by witnessing it in action, or we deface its essence by drowning selflessness with narcissism. By seeing compassion in action, we see through the behavior or empathy and sympathy how important it is to reach outside of ourselves and lift others up with the strength we have from God. We are not strong on our own, and others need to know they are not alone, either.
Love without God is artificial and transient. Love isn’t sex: Sex is representative of something deeper. Searching for love only in sex is an incomplete journey. Love is emotional, and where sex feels amazing, the ecstatic sensations of copulation are not transcendent of feelings or their realities; it is, in fact, the opposite is true: Ecstasy derived from sex is the made possible by the emotional bond between two partners. Without their bond, sex is a flood or racing hormones, and emotions are dismissed as an unnecessary appendage. This indisputable mistake is detrimental to the relationship—which, in itself is only a conduit to hedonism. If sex is used purely for ecstasy, then the culmination of the bond is to appease the brain, not the heart.
Trust is built over time, and requires vulnerability and the amalgam of adversity with compassion to sustain. Experiencing hardship wth someone genuinely choosing to stay with us during a painful period is indicative of the desire to gain trust and deepen the bond; not only for themselves, but for you. Trust is either a cornerstone to a strong friendship, or part of the broken backbone of heartache and betrayal.
Vulnerability is transparency and honesty rolled into one. Telling someone your secrets is being explicitly vulnerable. Your darkest, most embarrassing, humbling flaws reveal your most susceptible self in a way nothing else can compare to. Openness is the window to transparency, and closing the shade over that is dismissing the desire to gain intimacy. Notice I placed trust ahead of vulnerability– because for many people, vulnerability comes after trusting someone; though, you can take a leap of faith and be very vulnerable and bold in discovering whether the person you opened up to is worthy of your trust. Undoubtedly, if they receive you well, the trust is that much more clearly unshakable.
Caring for someone does not equate with doing something for someone to elicit a response. We do not take care of our friend when they’re sick so that they’ll buy us what we want when they recover. An authentic person understands the difference between loving someone unconditionally and conditionally is the lack of expectation later on. The most caring person shocks us because we don’t expect their selflessness; yet the source of concern is not looking in the mirror, but helping your friend by being their mirror.
Kindness is such an underrated quality in today’s world. That’s why the kind people are the ones with the friends, because the only people in this world kind enough to make best friend material are the magnets for the rest of us. Beyond etiquette and politeness, beyond “please” and “thank you”—there is the core to a person who wants to be kind because they can tell it feels good to be considerate and generous to others when they can see their actions having a positive effect. However, being a positive influence is not testing others for a response; it’s acting on the will to do what is good and right (and usually unexpected) for the sake of being a difference to someone else ((showing the light of Christ through unconditional (perhaps unexpected) love)), regardless of whether they blink their eyes and ignore your good deed, or stop dead in their tracks with gratitude for your good heart.
When I think of a great friend, it’s someone who is dependable, someone who is able to be there for me regardless of what they’re doing. Some friends literally leave work to spend time others experiencing pain, and sometimes a friend will step aside their life schedule to call when a friend needs that favor. Dependability means not making excuses not to care, and choosing to be the kind of person who wants to experience every aspect of their best friend; good and bad, hard and easy; fun and depressed. A dependable friend knows to be there for you, and learn what it means to meet your needs in any way they can.
How often do our friends just drop away, out of our lives, like a rabbit in the hat a magician? There is pain to loss, and even deeper pain when loss carries no explanation. Being a constant in someone’s life requires both dependability and stability, caressing the wound of years past with a simple, “I’m here.” A best friend’s “I’m here” could be a decade–or several decades–worth of experiences building up to the culmination of being able to say, “I understand what you’re going through. You’re not alone. We’ll get through this together. Just stay with me, and everything will be fine”–in two words. A constant friend need not say much after a while, because their presence speaks volumes.
What kind of a friend are you? What kind would you like to be, and what road would you need to take to get there? Do the qualities of a friend stated here resonate with you? Do you know of many people who carry these characteristics–and do they inspire you to be like them?
Our characteristics are God-given qualities that were meant to keep us directed towards Him. Jesus showed all of these, and much more. Truly, if there’s an example to live by, it is Christ. Can we take from this and learn by His example?
Maybe this list is not what you expected. Maybe you have your own list? What does yours look like?
I hope this challenges you and encourages you to try to be more than you have ever been. God is with you and can show you everything you need to know if you’ll search for His presence within you. He is closer than a brother, and certainly the prime example to look to. I pray you are blessed this day, and inspired to do more and be more than you ever thought you could. May He bless your decision to be your best in all that you do. In Jesus name! 🙂