Good Friends

By Marjorie Foerster Eddington


How do you make good friends? And when you do make friends, how do you know if you can trust them?


I put these questions to one of my high school classes of seniors who answered:

  • "Very carefully and slowly. People usually start out as acquaintances and then become better friends through shared experiences."
    When I asked them how they knew if they could trust someone, they explained:
  • "You learn about people by spending time with them. Usually they'll show themselves."

I also asked them if they'd ever gotten burned, and if so, what they had done about it. Many of them, both guys and girls, had gotten hurt.

  • One girl said that she is a type of person who automatically trusts people, which sometimes makes her vulnerable. But she's not concerned by that at all. It makes her stronger. She would rather trust than not trust. She is a happy person.
  • One girl said that she isn't friends any more with a person who hurt her. And that does happen.
  • Most agreed that they had learned something from the experience.

When I asked if they had a lot of good friends, their responses were telling:

  • Many had a lot of friends, but they had only a handful of very good friends.
  • "Good friends are hard to find. Friendships take a lot of work. And often friends come and go."

So how do we see friendship on a spiritual basis?

The Bible tells us:

A man that hath friends must shew himself friendly: and there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother. KJV Prov. 18:24

To me, this suggests that in order to have good friends, we must be good friends. A previous article on Friendship discusses this in more detail.

Eugene Peterson's translation of that same text reveals a different aspect:

Friends come and friends go,
      but a true friend sticks by you like family.
      The Message Prov. 18:24

And another passage really helps to define true friendship:

Friends love through all kinds of weather,
      And families stick together in all kinds of trouble.
      The Message Prov. 17:17

We certainly can't make friends if we stay holed up in our own world hoping that someone will reach out to us. If we really value friendship, then we will look for those who need a friend, and we will be that friend. This requires a little bit of risk-taking. A good friend of mine who is an actor, mime, and teacher has a saying that not only applies to the theatre, but also to life: "Risk and Reason." To progress, we must take risks, but we must accompany those risks with reason and common sense. And we can't forget prayer!

Prayer -- which really is listening to God's constant communication to us and striving to understand the power of His Love operating in our lives -- will help us see the goodness in ourselves and others. Just as we know the voices of our family members, so we can know the voice of God. We can hear God telling us what to do in each circumstance and with each person. Rather than trying to base a friendship on trust between humans, we can base our friendships on trust in God.

Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths. (KJV Prov. 3:5, 6)

There's a reason why this proverb is so known and loved: it's comforting, and what it teaches works! If you open up your heart wholly to God (and not tell God what kind of a friend you want, when you want one, etc.) and trust in His ability to give you everything you need, then you will find every single one of your needs fulfilled, including good, true friendships.