2 Tough Questions To Ask Yourself
To Make Sure You’re Being A Good Friend
The following fact seems obvious to me now, but it took awhile for me to see it plainly: it takes two to form a friendship, and both parties have to be patient and kind during the process. Without that, no valid friendship can form.
Before I let you in on the tough questions to ask yourself, consider a simple one:
WHAT MAKES A FRIEND A FRIEND?
Real friends accept each other’s funny little quirks. True friends can disagree with each other with ease and compromise with respect. You’ll find that a genuine friend is open to being challenged by you, and you’ll notice that you’re willing to challenge her, too.
And that’s on the good days.
Friendships can try our patience, but out of love, we patiently endure. And because no one wants to be friends with a meanie, kindness is a basic necessity in any valuable friendship.
“Love is patient, love is kind . . . ”
– 1 Corinthians 13: 4 (New American Standard Bible)
So when we read the verse, “love is patient, love is kind,” it makes sense to think of that as the basis for genuine friendship. That verse takes on an even bigger meaning, though, when you consider another verse of Scripture:
“God is love.” 1 John 4:16 (New International Version)
God is love. And love is patient and kind. Patience and kindness are of God. And God uses both patience and kindness to make us more like Him (that is, more patient and kind!).
The depth of patience that true friends show each other allows both friends to grow into the people God designed each of them to be.
And the type of kindness that each friend extends is the conscious decision not to stand in the way of who God is molding the other person to be.
Take construction work, for an example. Successful builders lay the foundation first. Without that, the building won’t be strong.
A foundation of patience and kindness will allow friendships to withstand the toughest of storms. That way, no matter what difficulties come . . .
- Rebuilding of the friendship can occur after unexpected devastation
- Remodeling of the friendship will be necessary when circumstances change for either individual
- Renovation within the friendship happens as the friends themselves change.
And all of it is possible when the solid foundation of patience and kindness are deeply set in a friendship early on, and both people work to preserve its integrity.
THOSE 2 TOUGH QUESTIONS
Based on all I’ve written about patience and kindness, you may think the 2 tough questions will be, “Are you patient?” and “Are you kind?”
Good guess. And you’re pretty close. There’s one other concept to consider, and I’ll more fully explain it after I let you in on those 2 tough questions to ask yourself.
The tough questions concerning your friendship are . . .
- Are you mutually patient and kind with each other?
- Do you trust that each of you has the other’s back?
The answers you give will either open your eyes to the good thing you’ve got, or help you break through the denial that your friendship isn’t all that it could be. Remember, these concepts have to be given and received by both people in order to be genuine.
If you’ve got it, hang on to it and cultivate it. Such a friendship is priceless! But if this doesn’t resonate as true in your friendships, stop to consider what the problem may be.
Perhaps you give more in the friendship then you receive. You could be wonderfully patient and kind, but if your “friend” doesn’t treat you the same way you’ll need to consider whether you ought to still consider her a friend.
Maybe you haven’t been as supportive of your friend as you could be. You might tease too much or get too sarcastic. Maybe you don’t expect your friend to accomplish much and end up judging her.
What I said earlier is important enough to repeat again here:
The patience that true friends show each other allows each friend to grow into the woman God has designed her to be.
And the kindness that each friend extends is the conscious decision not to stand in the way of who God is molding the other person to be.
That has to go both ways or it isn’t a genuine friendship. If you are the only one consistently showing up as kind and patient, it’s time to give some distance to that friendship. If you are the one who is unsupportive or judgmental, you would do well to take a step back and see what you need to confess to God and your friend, as well as what changes you need to ask God to bring about in you.
WHAT ABOUT TRUST?
You have survived abusive relationships, so you know what it means to be betrayed. But what does it look like to experience trust?
After the words “patient” and “kind,” the following verses in 1 Corinthians 13 go on to tell us more about love:
“Love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails.”
It’s unbelievably reassuring to read this passage and think about God loving you this way. Take a minute to reread it and let that truth soak in.
But, Whoa. That’s a heavy list when we think about your responsibility to behave this way in friendships. It’s also a very accurate measure to use when thinking about how a friend treats you.
Pick a place: school, work, where you hang out, church, or recovery meetings. Is there anyone there who has your back? Is there someone there, who
- listens to your perspective without judgment
- speaks to you honestly
- is genuinely happy for you when you are happy
- is dependable
- is careful with her words so that she doesn’t gossip, provoke, or tease
If these seem like some pretty big “Love” shoes for your friends to fill, they are! Just know that you are worth it. You deserve a friend you can trust.
Does it go the other way? Picture yourself in the same place you just picked. Do you behave this way for others?
When you practice this yourself and when you experience this from others, be encouraged. It represents the possibility of solid friendship forming. Only time will tell. Without divulging all of your secrets to this new potential friend, patiently wait and kindly work at being a friend to her.
You will find it SO VERY gratifying to discover is that there are other people who are capable and willing to offer and receive patience, kindness and trust.
Demonstrating consistent patience and kindness is no small task. Have you found a friend who can help you grow into the person God has designed you to be?