“Cori has expanded my horizons. When I’m with her, I meet new people, try new things, and have fun every step of the way. Cori’s friendship has literally changed my life!”—Tara.*
Does that kind of friendship sound too good to be true? If so, don’t be discouraged. Potential friends are all around you. This article will help you discover who they are.
‘I AM surrounded by friends but have no friends.’ That’s how 21-year-old Shayna describes the experience of being around a lot of people but not feeling particularly close to any of them. That feeling might be especially common among those on a social network. “You could have a huge ‘friends list’ and look popular and awesome,” says 22-year-old Serena, “but in reality that list might be full of meaningless contacts.”*
Which would you rather have—hundreds of contacts or a few genuine friends? Although both have advantages, a true friend can help you through challenges and can even encourage you to be a better person. (1 Corinthians 16:17, 18) Use the following criteria to help you determine who among your acquaintances might already be displaying the qualities of a true friend.
A TRUE FRIEND IS TRUSTWORTHY
“My friend would tell me her secrets, and because of that, I thought I could trust her with mine. So one day I told her that I had a crush on a boy. Wow, was that a mistake! She went right out and told others about it!”—Beverly.
“I can tell my friend Alan anything, and I know he won’t go around repeating it.”—Calvin.
Below, write the names of two friends whom you have found to be trustworthy.
A TRUE FRIEND IS SELF-SACRIFICING
“At some point in any friendship, one person is stronger than the other. A true friend recognizes when you are the weaker one and then steps up to the plate and helps you. Of course, that friend trusts that you will do the same thing when she needs help.”—Kellie.
“When my mother died, I had a new friend. We weren’t very close yet, but we had planned to go to a wedding together. As it turned out, my mother’s memorial service was to take place on the same day as the wedding. To my surprise, my friend showed up at the memorial service instead of going to the wedding. At that moment, I knew she was a true friend!”—Lena.
Who among your friends shows a self-sacrificing spirit? A true friend will “keep seeking, not his own advantage, but that of the other person.”—1 Corinthians 10:24.
Below, write the names of two friends who have shown themselves to be self-sacrificing.
A TRUE FRIEND HELPS YOU TO BECOME A BETTER PERSON
“Some people expect me to be loyal to them or agree with them even if it means compromising my values or doing something against my conscience. Those aren’t true friends.”—Nadeine.
“My sister is my best friend. She pushes me to do things outside of my comfort zone and helps me to be more outgoing. She tells me the truth even if it isn’t what I want to hear.”—Amy.
“When I went through a rough patch, my best friends were the ones who didn’t coddle me; they gave me honest advice. The others either waited for me to come out of it or tried to distract me. They didn’t acknowledge that something was wrong.”—Miki.
“My friend sees potential in me as no one else does, and she encourages me to accomplish my goals. She’s brutally honest with me when she needs to be—and I love it!”—Elaine.
Do your friends help you to reach your potential, or do you have to lower your standards to fit in with them? Proverbs 13:20 says: “He that is walking with wise persons will become wise, but he that is having dealings with the stupid ones will fare badly.”
Below, write the names of two friends who have helped you become a better person.
Look at the names that you wrote in the three sections above. If one person’s name appears in all three, that is a true friend! On the other hand, if you had trouble thinking of anyone who meets the above criteria, don’t be discouraged. You could very well have potential genuine friends all around you. It may just take more time to find them.* In the meantime, do your best to be a good friend. “I always try to be there for my friends,” says 20-year-old Elena. “When they need something done, I offer my help. When they need to talk, I offer my ears. When they need to cry, I offer my support.”
True, you might have many acquaintances, and that’s better than being part of a clique. (2 Corinthians 6:13) But wouldn’t you also like to have a few true friends who are “born for when there is distress”? (Proverbs 17:17) “It’s good to know a lot of people,” says 20-year-old Jean, “but that’s like having a closet full of clothes that look nice on the hangers but don’t all fit. You always go back to the few items that you know work for you. And that’s what you do with close friends too.”
Some names in this article have been changed.
Sometimes keeping a confidence is unwise—for example, if a friend has committed a serious wrong, has suicidal thoughts, or is involved in some type of self-destructive behavior. For more information, see the Awake! issues of December 2008, pages 19-21, and May 2008, pages 26-29.
For more information, see the March 2009 Awake! article, “Young People Ask . . . Do I Need Better Friends?”