Do You Have Any Real Friends?

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Most men in our culture are very isolated, but here are some tips to help keep you away from the fringe.

(This post was co-written with Pete Loescher, a veteran mentor and dear friend)

“The tragedy at my father’s funeral was not that I had to help carry the casket. It was that I had to grab the hearse driver to make four carriers. Two relatives, myself, and the hearse driver. No friends.”

Imagine how sad your son would feel, knowing you lay dead…and friendless.

How about you? Do you have friends?  Real friends?

You have to decide that you want to have friends. I made that decision a couple of years ago and it’s been life changing. Here’s what Nouwen says about friendship:

If we truly believe that God loves us with an unlimited, unconditional love, then we can trust that there are women and men in this world who are eager to show us that love. But we cannot wait passively until someone shows up to offer us friendship. As people who trust in God’s love, we must have the courage and the confidence to say to someone through whom God’s love becomes visible to us: “I would like to get to know you. I would like to develop a friendship with you. What about you?” There will be no’s, there will be pain of rejection. But when we determine to avoid all the no’s and all rejections, we will never create the milieu where we can grow stronger and deeper in love. God became human for us to make divine love tangible. That is what incarnation is all about. That incarnation not only happened long ago, but it continues to happen for those who trust that God will give us the friends we need. But the choice is ours! ~ Henri J.M. Nouwen

How do I pick the people I’ll pursue?

Maybe you could ask these questions about each one:

- Will he be for me? Truly for me?

- If he’s truly for me, he’ll also be for my family? Will he be?

- Friends are “healthy protectors” for each other. Not only must we have a willingness to lean into one another, but we must also have courage to provide content and context for one another. Will this potential friend tell me the truth? Bring valuable information to my life? Help me think things through without judging?

- Will his reaction to my failings, pain or suffering be “I am sorry - I’m here for you and with you?” Does empathy precede “fixing” and action steps?

- Does he have curiosity around and willingness to challenge me toward the God-given and unique purpose for my life?

Of course the backside of these questions is “Am I ready to be that kind of friend in return?” If I’m not, the friendship will be one-sided and short lived.

I know this sounds a little weird, but just do it, will ‘ya? Reach out. Schedule time with a few guys who could become true friends. As corny as they sound, use Nouwen’s words….

“I would like to get to know you. I would like to develop a friendship with you. What about you?”

Will you live a “quiet life of desperation,” alone like most men? Or will you push through the pride and the fear of rejection, take off your mask and take a chance to truly connect with another guy or two or three?

Question: Will you push yourself out of your comfort zone and pursue real friendships?

 

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