Well, at least we are smarter now, right? We know better than to trust people. We won’t be stupid again and open our hearts for others to see. We will just keep to ourselves and not give others a chance to hurt us. Who needs friends anyway?
Truth? I do. Yeah, I know I’m a guy and I don’t have the kind of friendships women often do. And I know a lot of people and I am with people a lot. And I am a Christian and I have Jesus. So I’m set, right? But really, I need friends—and so do you.
What we don’t need are fake friends. We don’t need people who pretend to be our friends and then turn against us or use the things we have shared to hurt us. Frankly, we don’t need the kind of friends legalists seem to be.
It isn’t just legalists who become fake friends. I was thinking about calling this post “Frenemies.” There are all kinds of people who will use you and abuse you under the guise of friendship. Friendship is a marketing tool for those who see you as a sale, or a servant, or a step on the ladder. People in relationships like these aren’t friends.
We live in a culture that is more lonely, more separate, and more surrounded by people than ever. People are afraid and wide open at the same time. It is amazing to hear what people share on Facebook or in groups or on TV. Yet, with all this sharing, there are fewer heart connections, less trust, and less friendship.
So what do we do when we need friends, but live in a culture that doesn’t seem to understand what friendships are? What do we do when we are surrounded by people but there are very few we trust? Here are a few ideas:
- Greatly value the one or two real friends you have.
- Don’t throw your heart out there to see if anyone will be kind to it. Remember that the world is filled with broken people who use and abuse and don’t give them opportunity.
- Instead, be patient and kind. Listen to others as they share. Once in a while there will be one who will care about you and you will recognize their hearts.
- I know this isn’t what you normally hear, but mistrust first and be safe. Then, when someone rises to the top, you can begin to trust. This is not an unhealthy way to look at life.
- Never forget that even good friends can fail. They struggle with fear and brokenness just like you do. Imperfect relationships are the only kind available. You might fail, too.
There is a difference between a real friend and a user. Your goal is not to hide in the cave because you can’t see the difference. Your goal is to seek to understand the difference. Don’t deny yourself the friendship you need. Just be careful.
Being careful is what you have learned.