How To “Show Yourself Friendly” ( & Finally Make Friends)
A guide to actually make friends and maintain friendships
King James Version – A man that has friends must show himself friendly, and there is a friend that sticks closer than a brother.
For a large majority of my life I found myself wanting in the area of friends.
I wanted more friends. (And by “more” I mean more than two!).
I wanted someone to call or text when things were going rough and I needed to talk.
I wanted someone I could call on the fly and meet for lunch or an errand.
I wanted someone to make plans with, that I could “just hang” with casually, not formally.
I wanted someone who knew me, understood me.
Someone who would be loyal and “have my back”, but also tell me the cold, hard truth when I needed it.
Can you relate?
Why oh why was it so hard for me to make friends?! Where were they all hiding? Did everyone else but me have ENOUGH friends already? Did I smell weird or something?
I realized later that I had some wrong thinking; I used to think that all my friends had to be BEST friends. They all had to know everything about me, and we needed to be on the same page about everything in life. Duh, how else could we possibly get along? I now know this is not true. It’s okay, and even GOOD, to have all kinds of different friends. And the level of depth that you share with each of them will vary.
Also, unknown to me at the time, things were made especially harder for me in this area because I came from a legalistic background.
You have tattoos and a nose ring? – Nope.
You don’t go to church? – Nada.
You use foul language and watch gorey movies? – Crossed off the list!
I am cringing even telling you these things. But hey, it’s the truth of my story. And I’m sure you can see how my friends list easily and quickly shrunk on a constant basis.
Once again…. Have you been there, done that?
Legalism creates strongholds in our mind…. Patterns and ways of thinking about and viewing life. And those strongholds create habits.
On top of that, our past experiences with friends and relationships cause us to form habits. Habits for expectations. Habits of self protection and safety. Default habits that we don’t even realize that we do.
And hence, we are stuck in our viscious friendless cycle.
….. It didn’t work before and it’s still not working.
So, how are we supposed to make new and good friendships?!
Thankfully, the Bible has an answer for us, (as it usually does *wink*).
Proverbs 18:24 tells us: “A man that hath friends must shew himself friendly….”
Okay, so in order to have friends….we must BE A FRIEND. Whether we realize it or not, that is a huge revelation. We shouldn’t just EXPECT people to be our friends because we think we’re awesome.
But wait! There’s more….
The verse goes on to say: “…..And there is a friend that sticks closer than a brother.”
Wow…. This is saying that a true friend…. That shows himself friendly, ALSO sticks closer to your side than even a brother will.
Meaning….. things that you think or expect that your own sibling should/would do for you…. Is what we should be doing for our friends.
Is anyone else shifting uncomfortably in their seats yet besides me? #guilty-guilty-guilty !
THE PRACTICAL APPLICATION
I’m the kind of person who, once convinced that I need to do something, is all about that practical application.
“Ya, ya, ya… that’s great …. But HOW am I supposed to do that?”
So….. here is a list of practical applications you can start to practice and apply to your life and relationships.
They start with easier, simpler steps….. And get harder as the list continues, (as a friendship grows).
FIRST, as you’ve probably already concluded for yourself… you cannot MAKE anyone be your friend. Friendship, like any other type of relationship, is a two-way street. But, by holding up your end of the bargain, and doing everything that you know you should…. You can close that gap by a whopping 50%!
Plus, you get to go to sleep at the end of the day with a good feeling inside. (Always a win).
Also, it can tell you a lot about other people by how they respond to your efforts. By following this list, you can usually quickly find out who is actually ready for a committed friendship.
Without further ado…
How to show yourself friendly and be the kind of friend YOU would want to have
Step #1: Actually talk to people
You would assume that this is relatively common sense. But for me…. it was not, hence I have included it in this list.
I was too busy being shy and awkward to actually talk to anyone.
Be myself? Heck no! What if they didn’t like “myself”?! My list of reasons to NOT show someone my authentic self was endless.
I have since learned to not care so much if someone likes me or not. Besides, how can they ever know if they like me if I don’t give them the chance?
I have also learned some simple social skills that I used to lack….
Like striking up conversations with a stanger, and making conversation out of very little.
If you don’t already, give these things a try. You have to BE OUT in the world, and GO OUT of your way to talk to people, so they can decide if they want to converse with you or not.
Who wants to be friends with a quiet, snobby girl who doesn’t have anything to say to anyone else? (I’m referring to myself because this is what people have often told me they USED to think about me, before they got to know me). My point is, being shy and awkward is not welcoming to others. LOL.
Step #2: Be interested in the other person
Now that we’re out and actually having conversations with new people…. It’s time to be interested in them. This means, asking them about THEM, not telling them everything about you, (that part will come later).
If you are like I was, and don’t know HOW to be interested in others…… I’m here to tell you that it’s a necessary thing you must learn. (I am exposing so much about my past self in this post. Eesh.)
Here are some example questions to get you started:
-Where do you work?
-Are you married?
-Do you have children? (How many? How old?)
-Have you always lived here? (Where are you from?)
-Do you have any hobbies?
-Do you go to a church around here?
Most of the time, you will only get through a few of these questions before they take you off on some topic of common interest. You’ll be having a fluid conversation, and it may be time to leave before you are actually done talking.
If, on the other hand, you do find yourself running through a myriad of questions and are left standing there awkwardly…… then you have probably come in contact with someone who is scared and awkward.
Have patience for this poor person, there is quite possibly a gem of a person hiding in there!
Step #3: Text and call people back
Yes, I did go there.
For some of you, steps 1 & 2 may not have been anything new to you, and THIS is where you actually need to start making the first initiative.
(I included the first two steps because they were a huge part of my journey, so I knew they would apply to some of you as well).
In this day and age, it is easier THAN EVER to stay in contact with people. We should have no excuses to not have any friends!
Obviously there are those few that we choose to ignore on purpose, for certain reasons, and that is another thing altogether.
But the general excuse of, “I’ve just been so busy….” is 25% true, and 75% code for : “I have better things to do. I don’t manage my time well. I didn’t know how to respond to your last message. Our last meeting was awkward. I don’t prioritize my friends.”
*Cringe* Was that too harsh? I just have to be honest with you, because that’s what a good friend does, (which is step #7).
God has called us to reach the lost people of the world. To love on people, to pull out of hell’s fire those that are perishing. But how?!….. if we can’t even text them back?
I think I can confidently say that almost each one of us has an amazing, untapped friendship sitting on the other side of unanswered text messages, or unreturned calls.
Maybe God has already given the provision…… answered your prayer, and you’re not being a good steward of the relationships that He has put in your hand?
Now, this doesn’t mean that you have no personal boundaries and you let your phone rule your life and schedule. It’s 100% okay if you can’t answer that call right now, or you don’t respond to that text right away.
Just make sure that you DO respond, and in some timely manner.
There will be those occasional messages that slip past us during our worst times. We all need grace. I would say that an 80/20 rule is pretty realistic for most people. (Be responding to at least 80% of your texts and calls).
Friendships are incredibly vital to life, and talked about a lot in the Bible. Therefore, we should be making them a priority like we would other areas of our lives. And if that means time-blocking a specific slot in your day for texts messages, then I would strongly urge you to do it.
I don’t think we’re all making it up, I know we’re busy. But we make time for the things that are important to us.
Schedule 15-20 a day to respond to messages. Wherever it fits best for you.
Step #4: Be willing to open up and share
So now that you’ve had a few conversations, you’ve exchanged contact information, And this person is showing some interest in getting to know you better….
It’s time to open up.
In the right timing, and in a capacity that you feel safe and comfortable with.
I realized as I got older that I had made it difficult for people to be friends with me. Our relationship would get to a certain point, and then I would not want to open up about anything personal.
After I started practicing opening up more, in ways that felt natural and comfortable…I started to notice that it made other people feel more comfortable opening up to me in return.
Voila! A relationship is born!
People want to talk to other people that they can relate with. That they feel can understand them. And no one can relate to someone who doesn’t have any issues, problems, or struggles. You can’t relate to someone who comes off as perfect and having it altogether….
That just makes other people really uncomfortable. (We all know one of THOSE people. Believe me, they are struggling in some area too).
Unfortunately, this is even more so true in religious and Christian circles. Because people are afraid of being judged for having problems.
Therefore, when I started to learn about God’s grace, and have more grace for myself and others…. My relationships naturally began to grow.
Step #5: Check in on them
Now it’s time to acquire the skill of remembering things that you have talked about with people and following up with them about those things.
Did they share a really personal struggle with you? -Ask them how they’re doing in it.
Did they tell you about an upcoming opportunity or venture?- Ask them how it’s going.
Did they share with you a problem they are trying to find a solution to? – Ask them if they found one, or offer up some solutions you came up with after you last spoke.
I’ve had those incredibly awkward encounters, where I met up with someone for a lunch meeting…. The conversation got pretty heavy and deep…. And then never went anywhere further after that.
Randomly running to them out in public was incredibly weird. Like….. I know things about you that I shouldn’t!
If you were to open up to somebody about deep personal things, and then never hear from them again….. imagine the assumptions and insecurities that would conjure up in your head.
Following up with people in general is a good way to keep relationships alive and moving forward.
Following up with people on SPECIFIC topics shows them that you listened, and that you care about them and their well-being.
I have a few of these types of relationships in my life. And it feels really good when I get a message on my phone with someone asking about my health struggles, my business ventures, my marriage, or just life in general.
Step #6: Encourage them and pray with them
A good friend speaks life into their friends.
Walking through life together and sharing your struggles is a big part of friendships. But it can take your relationship to a whole new level to pray for each other and speak life-giving words over their life and situation.
Also, this isn’t something that most friendships offer, unfortunately.
Offering to pray with them, or telling them that you have BEEN praying for them will speak volumes.
I’m not talking about the all too common: “I’ll pray for you” sentiment. I mean…. Make a note somewhere that you will see it again that reminds you to pray over their situation. Or if you find them coming to mind randomly in the middle of the day, take it as a sign from the Holy Spirit and say a prayer for them.
Then text them and say something like: “I said a prayer for you this morning, I hope things are going okay.”
“You’ve been on my heart lately. I been praying for you, and felt like the Lord wanted to share this with you….”
It could be a word for them, or a Bible verse that came to mind while you were praying.
Offering up a book that might help them, a blog post, or a sermon.
I used to be afraid to do any of these kinds of things. Because I was shy and intimidated. I didn’t think they would accept what I had to say. I was afraid of being rejected, judged, or coming off like an imposter in spiritual matters.
(That’s a whole other topic entirely).
You can also offer to pray WITH them, in person, or over the phone.
I have even had times where I texted a prayer over, so they could see exactly what was said, and apply their own faith to it. And it is proof that you did indeed take the time to pray for them.
As for speaking words of life and encouragement…..
It’s very common in friendships to get caught up in each other’s drama.
I have learned over many years that it is not helpful when someone gets caught up in my drama with me. It may feel good on a natural and emotional level. But as far as a spiritual level, it feeds negativity in me and in my life. Therefore, not breeding the result or outcome that I actually desire in the end.
It’s a rare thing to find a friend who will listen to you wholeheartedly, stay calm, and give you biblical words and advice…. Reminding you of God’s promises to you and your identity in Christ as a solution for walking through your struggles.
Be this type of unique friend.
This flows perfectly into my next point ….
Step #7: Tell them the hard, honest truth
“5 Open rebuke is better than secret love.
6 Faithful are the wounds of a friend; but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful.”
I put this as step number seven for a reason. It can be very hard to speak open truth to someone who does not know you or trust you yet. And really, what’s the point? Sally and Joe don’t need to know your opinion about everything if you aren’t an active part of their life.
Once you have developed a good relationship with somebody…. Or even a decent relationship…. There will be trust enough to be able to speak truth when necessary.
If there is trust, the person on the receiving end will be able to admonish your words as “the wounds of a friend”.
They will be able to trust that they are coming from a good place and a good heart.
This proverb also says that open rebuke is better than secret love.
If you keep words of truth to yourself (in secret), instead of telling your friend openly what they need to hear…. You are actually hurting them.
And you are not doing it because you are afraid of hurting them, you are doing it because you are afraid of them getting mad at you. That is selfish.
I know I’m riding the line of harshness again. But this is a perfect example of what I’m trying to say.
There are more than enough fake friendships out there. People who aren’t actually being honest about the way that they feel, or what they think about certain situations. These are the kisses of an enemy. Sweet on the ourside, but deceitful on the inside.
This inevitably leads to the end of a lot of relationships.
And that is the complete opposite of what we’re after here. We’re coming together in the effort of searching for REAL, AUTHENTIC, and LONG LASTING friendships that stand the test of time and season.
Step #8: Be willing and ready to be inconvenienced
Relationships of any kind are not convenient.
Nothing good in life is convenient, for that matter.
Just like you have to fight for a marriage, friendships are the same way.
Expect to go out of your way to see them.
Offer help and be willing to actually do it.
This is a hard part of relationships. And it is a true test of their quality.
We want to stick around and reap the benefits of relationships when they are fun or fill some void that you have.
But that is not a Godly type of friendship at all. That is a one-sided friendship.
We must EXPECT to have to work and be inconvenienced in order to have and maintain good frienships.
If you’re not ready for that commitment yet, that is okay.
Just know that you will only get so far, and your relationships will likely be shallow.
On The flip side of this, we also have to be willing to ASK FOR HELP.
Once again, speaking to myself here.
Asking for help shows vulnerability. And vulnerability is attractive. It makes other people feel needed. And it shows that you are relatable.
These are the steps that I have collected from my own experiences in trying to make friends and maintain friendships.
I hope you have found this helpful, and even encouraging.
Friendship isn’t a mystery! It is something that we can solve; we have the answers, it just takes work and dedication.
That’s good news! Finding friends is not a hopeless endeavor.
Don’t feel rushed to implement all of these steps at once; that would definitely be overwhelming.
Feel free to come back to this blog post time and again to refresh your memory on your next step, or find encouragement in the reminder of WHY you are doing the hard work.
If nothing else, you have a friend in me.
(Que cheesy Toy Story song)
But for real…. Don’t feel strange reaching out with questions, or for some prayers and support.
Until next time, take each day one day at a time.
Her Life In Season