“Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins.” (1 Peter 4:8 ESV)
You need to actively care.
Actively caring comes in all shapes and sizes. It can range from the act of comforting to spending time with each other to plainly using your words to encourage. A couple key points are:
Consolation. When you have a friend who’s hurting or in a bad mood, it can be first nature to give him/her some space or to let them work things out on her own. But think: what would you like in that situation? I know that sometimes I’d like someone to help me work through my emotions. It can be hard to gauge, but the more you know your friend, the easier it will be.
Making the effort. Be the one to initiate conversation or to set up a coffee date (I’m personally awful with this one). Be intentional with what you ask, and pay attention to the answers. Find out your friend’s love language, and then find ways to use it to show him/her you care.
People are meant to be in community with others—so be involved in yours.
Friendships require attention.
Lots of attention, and lots of paying attention. As mentioned above, be intentional with what you ask. And pay attention to the answers. Listen, listen, listen. Make an effort to remember what your friends talk about, and to keep up with their lives.
Give attention to personality traits, as well. What makes your friends tick? What aggravates them, what makes them laugh, etc. Take time to learn your friends. Then use what you’ve learned to become a better friend.
You will have a fall out.
Probably more than one. And some of them will be big and bad and ugly. But that doesn’t have to be the end.
Things might be messed up for a while, but don’t give up. You can make it through with a loving attitude, patience, and loads of grace. Talk things out, apologize, and forgive each other. Then work toward being better.
Keep prayer in your friendships.
In every aspect of life, prayer should be incorporated. So pray for your friendship, and for your friends. Do it in private and with each other. Let your friends know that you’re praying for them, and make known any prayer requests you might have.
Keep God involved in your friendships. He’ll bless them greatly for it.
Listen to corrections.
It’s all too easy to take offense to corrections. My advice? Don’t. Use them to better yourself as a person and as a friend. The only reason for your friendships shouldn’t be to have fun. You should be pursuing friendships to show love to others and to shape yourself into a more God-loving person. So when your friends have something to say about you, listen to them.
Remember: When giving corrections, hand them out with patience, gentleness, and growth in mind.
Much grace and patience are needed.
No one is perfect, so make sure you’re not expecting your friends to be.
It’s common to ask for too much and to be disappointed. How you handle that disappointment, though, is what matters. I’d suggest not lashing out, acting passive-aggressively, or dishing out the silent treatment. Instead, give your friends grace and patience.
Remember: You have your own issues too, so be thankful for when your friends give you the love, patience, and grace you’re striving to give them.
There needs to be forgiveness for your friendships to work.
People are sinful, and that will affect your friendships. As I said above, you’ll have fall outs. The best thing you can do is forgive. It’s not easy, but that’s where patience and grace tie in. Pair those with forgiveness, and your relationships will go far.
To be a friend is to love. It can be hard, messy, and impossible. But we need our community. God gave it to us to keep us on track and to teach us how to love. So make sure your friendships reflect the love of Christ.
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