Last week we looked out how to make a friends and how an acquaintance becomes a friend. A comment from one of our family members about finding it hard to open up to others, struck me. Can you relate to that? I can. Sometimes I have opened up to others thinking we were friends and then been left feeling hurt and foolish when the friendship never developed or my words were used against me.
The fact is every time we open up to others we leave ourselves at risk of being hurt or rebuffed. But if we want to make friends we have to be prepared to be vulnerable. ‘We are not cisterns made for hoarding, we are channels made for sharing,’ says Billy Graham.
Sadly sometimes I have seen people put down for honestly sharing how they feel. I’ve had it happen to me as other Christians have come down on me, when all I was doing was being honest – for example when I admitted to feeling angry with God after my mother died. There is also the risk when we open up to others that what we tell them will be repeated. There’s nothing worse than finding something you told someone in confidence, come back to you from another source.
This is especially true in bible study and prayer groups, which is often, but not always, where I have found where deep relationships are formed. We need to be sure anything shared in those groups remains confidential and is not broadcast outside. Too often a person has been hurt by hearing their own personal details have been shared with a number of people. Or irreparable damage is done as people who are not Christians find others have been praying for their conversion. After they come to Christ they might be happy to know of others’ prayers but usually not before they have come to that point.
‘Few delights can equal the mere presence of one who we trust utterly,’ George MacDonald. Confidentiality is important in our friendships. We need to be able to trust our friends and be trusted by them. If we are told information we need to keep that confidence and not blab it around. Are you a friend who can be trusted to keep confidences?
Whichever way we kook at it, friendship is a risk. But it is worth the risk. A true friend is a great blessing. ‘Friends warm you with their presence, trust you with their secrets, and remember you in their prayers.’
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