Relationships are a great antidote to selfishness. They provide opportunities for us to attend to the needs of others. Relationships also ward off that foggy self-centeredness that blinds us to ways that we can make a difference in the lives of others.
It seems we are “primed” to like each other as we get used to each other’s presence, something called an “exposure effect.” Just “showing up” at social functions on a regular basis increases likeability, even when interaction has not yet occurred. So don’t shy away from that picnic or potluck—“show up” for the start of some satisfying friendships.
Forming a friendship begins with the principle that “a man who has friends must himself be friendly.” Some practical social skills include smiling, taking a genuine interest in other people and remembering their name, making them feel special by being a good listener, and creating a comfortable environment for getting acquainted.
Sharing preferences about music, food, or hobbies is a way to lead to deeper conversations over time about your most intimate hopes and fears. Sharing a lot of highly personal information right away is too much for many people to handle. Take time to cultivate each level of friendship carefully and slowly.
Be yourself. One of the drawbacks of internet social sites is that participants tend to construct a “virtual” identity devoid of the nuances and non-verbal cues present in face-to-face encounters. Being open, honest, and clear about who you are and what your intentions are is better than creating a composite of yourself that lacks genuineness.
No single friend or loved one can meet every need, be there for you at all times, read your mind, or agree with you on everything. Keep your social circle wide enough to embrace friends with different strengths and weaknesses.
Entering into a friendship means accepting a person with a set of problems and flaws and committing to grow together. A healthy relationship involves giving as well as taking—forgiveness as well as challenging each other to grow.
Shared experiences such as births, weddings, trips, tragedies, successes, illnesses, meals, and even everyday activities such as walking together or shopping add meaning and value to life. But they take time—even a lifetime—to grow and develop. Don’t ditch a potentially positive relationship over little obstacles that can become stepping stones to deeper commitment over time.
In this world failed relationships and friendships occur as well as successful ones. But there is one Friend who will never fail you. He is perfect in love, present at all times, and powerful to save—and that is Jesus. He promises to be your “Friend who sticks closer than a brother.” Spending time with Him in His Word, the Bible, will deepen that friendship and tap into the wonderful resources for your life that no other friend can give. Now that’s a Friendship worth the investment.
(Submitted by Betty Dean. Used by Permission from www.lifestylematters.com. Courtesy of LifeSpring – Resources for Hope and Healing, Stuart, VA.)