“So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other just as I have loved you, you should love each other.” John 13:34
I remember being a little girl and receiving the news that my family had to move for my dad’s job. Quickly the tears and anxiety came, as I thought about leaving my friends behind. The process of making new friends felt daunting when I was younger. However, with frequent opportunities to connect in classrooms and neighborhood playgrounds, it all worked out given enough time. It is so obvious that God hardwired us for friendships with others, even at a young age.
As we mature into adulthood, life can feel so compartmentalized and full of responsibility. Can your work friends become more than just work friends? How? What does it take to transform a relationship from sitting and listening to the same sermon each Sunday to talking on the phone, hanging out, sending frequent texts, and becoming BFFs? How exactly does an acquaintance go from “girl in your small group” to your new bestie sitting in your living room during the good, bad, and ugly times? Is there even enough time in the day to make and keep new friends?
We are created in God’s image and He is relational, so it only makes sense that we are too! First and foremost, God wants a relationship with us. Then, God wants us to connect and relate to one another.
Jesus wants us to be close to Him, and He wants us to extend that deep love into a world that is longing for meaningful relationships.
It takes being intentional and sacrificing our time, energy, selfish desires, and emotions to do this. Real friendship can be messy, and our feelings can get hurt. Some of my best friends have at times hurt me deeply, and I have done the same to them. But as we persevere in forgiveness and rely on God’s grace, we can look to Jesus’ example of loving sacrificially and know that we can love with the love of Jesus. And the cool thing is, as we love unconditionally and allow ourselves to be loved that way, it makes us more grateful for God’s love. God has great plans for our friendships.
Beloveds, making great friends this year starts with being a great friend. Though all of our efforts may not be reciprocated right away, we can be sure that “whoever refreshes others will be refreshed” (Prov. 11:25).
Let’s be refreshing and spread love like glitter in 2015. Here are 15 simple ways to do just that:
1. Tell people you’re excited to see them or that it’s good to see them.
2. Listen well and ask follow-up questions.
3. Ask someone to take a walk with you.
4. Validate others’ thoughts and feelings.
5. Be on time when making plans.
6. Be fully present in the company of others (for example, don’t play with your phone excessively).
7. Share about your life (it builds trust)!
8. Write thank you cards and “just because” cards!
9. Care about the small details of people’s lives and share your small details, too.
10. Go to celebrations when you’re invited.
11. Keep your word – take it seriously when you give your word.
12. Call people and send text messages to genuinely check up on them.
13. Run simple errands with others – get involved in the mundane.
14. Surprise people with random, thoughtful gifts (they don’t have to be expensive).
15. Remember information that others share with you.