Do you want to have a long, happy life? Take a guess which of the following things is the #1 way to get there:
c) steering clear of addictive substances
d) having friendships
You guessed rightly,
a) because you’re clever, and
b) because you read the title of the devotional.
But yes, the answer is friendships. Loneliness is just as destructive to health as obesity, or never exercising, or being an alcoholic, or smoking 15 cigarettes a day. Pick your poison.
One commonality in most of our nation’s mass-shootings is that those who stoop to this type of evil are not only losers, but loners. And it’s the loner than usually comes first, and creates the loser. It’s a scary thing to have only yourself for company.
Studies show that having friends boosts your lifespan more than 20% on average. Having a friend talk to you regularly if you’re depressed is just as effective as therapy or medication. Having friends is even more important for your well-being than even your own grandchildren.
Of course, none of this should surprise those of us steeped in Scripture. The Bible spells this out two chapters into the book. “It’s not good for humans to be alone,” God says, shortly before he creates Eve for Adam. We need friends to journey with us through life.
You can have hundreds of friends on Facebook but everyone knows deep in their hearts that that’s just window-dressing. A true friend will do more than toss you a ‘like’ every now and then.
Someone once said: True friends are the ones who have nice things to say about you behind your back. Or how about: Friends are God’s way of apologizing for our families. This one is funnier. And more useful. Friends are like bras: close to your heart and there for support. (How come I never see that on a church sign?)
It’s actually not a bad definition, because it gets at two thing present in every true friendship. Closeness and commitment. A friend is someone close to your heart (closeness) and there for support (commitment). Which distinguishes it from ordinary relationships. Or mere acquaintances. Or your so-called “friends” on Facebook.
The Bible says in Proverbs 18:24 – “A man of many companions may come to ruin but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.” You can have hundreds of friends on Facebook but everyone knows deep in their hearts that that’s just window-dressing. A true friend will do more than toss you a ‘like’ every now and then.
This week we’ll dive deeper into the subject of friendship – how to find them and how to nurture them. It’s a topic we all could benefit from looking at more closely.