My mother always said, “You are blessed if you have one good friend in life.”
As a youngster, who had what I thought were many friends, that didn’t make any sense to me. It always seemed to me that “the more, the better.” You know, like the popular kids.
I was never the “popular girl,” though I longed to be. But neither did I ever want for friends. I was fortunate to have many good friends throughout my life, and several friendships that have spanned decades.
Such relationships have varied in intensity, strength, depth, and intentionality. A little like a bulls-eye. I’ve had those friendships that I would characterize more as habitual acquaintances. We’ve learned a little bit about each other, enough to ask about the other when we stumble upon each other in the grocery store or soccer field, maybe even pray for each other.
And then there are those friendships that I’ve nurtured with greater intentionality. We enjoy each other’s company, know each other’s preferences, care about the day to day. We enjoy time together and miss it when time passes without it.
In the center of the bulls-eye are those treasured friendships who hold a valued piece of your heart. Those are the friends who know your private dreams, successes, and failures, and accept you regardless. They hold up your arms when you lack the strength, like Aaron and Hur did for Moses. Their presence fills you with joy, and their absence is missed greatly, yet when you reunite, it’s like no time passed.
Friends lend you strength by their prayers, bless you through their love, and refresh your well-spring of hope through their encouragement.
The best of friends extend mercy, grace, and forgiveness. They recognize you aren’t perfect, won’t be and can’t be, and understand that makes you relatable and true. Such a friend wants to know the genuine you, not the mask that conceals the wrinkles and scars formed by life’s trials and strains.
A true friend willingly speaks the truth in love, making you both better for it. But the true friend will also sit with you in your times of struggle, listen without offering advice or platitudes, and dry your tears, knowing that sometimes the greatest gift we can offer someone is our presence.
I love this quote by Henri Nouwen:
“When we honestly ask ourselves which person in our lives mean the most to us, we often find that it is those who, instead of giving advice, solutions, or cures, have chosen rather to share our pain and touch our wounds with a warm and tender hand. The friend who can be silent with us in a moment of despair or confusion, who can stay with us in an hour of grief and bereavement, who can tolerate not knowing, not curing, not healing and face with us the reality of our powerlessness, that is a friend who cares.” ― Henri J.M. Nouwen, Out of Solitude: Three Meditations on the Christian Life
Aside from God, your very best friend ought to be you. If you cannot offer these things to yourself, you won’t be able to authentically offer them to others either. But the enemy of our soul, the accuser of the brethren, works consistently to accuse us to ourselves, others, and to God. He strives to make the case that we aren’t lovable, and in believing him, we struggle to love ourselves, much less believe that God loves us.
But those thoughts you have about how unlovable you are? How much you mess up? How you should be ashamed of yourself? Those thoughts are not even your thoughts. They are offered to you by the father of lies. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, powers, rulers of the darkness of this world and spiritual wickedness in high places.
Instead, when we fully accept and receive God’s love, believing we are all He says we are, we can then love ourselves and love others. It doesn’t matter what others think or have said about you – the only opinion that matters is God’s. He knew you before you were formed in your mother’s womb, He created you perfectly in His image, and He delights in you as the apple of His eye.
Will you receive His love for you today? And in doing so, be that friend to yourself that you always needed and wanted? Then and only then can you be that friend to someone else.
(If you have a question you’d like Dr. B to answer, contact her here now. Your name and identity will be kept confidential.)
A short brief about Hope Prevails.
Insights from a Doctor’s Personal Journey through Depression
Dr. Michelle Bengtson
Speaking from personal and professional experience, a neuropsychologist unpacks what depression is, shows how it affects us spiritually, and offers hope for living the abundant life.
Neuropsychologist Offers Hope to Those Struggling with Depression
-By 2020, depression will be our greatest epidemic worldwide
- An estimated 350 million people worldwide suffer from some form of depression
- As with the bestselling My Stroke of Insight, the author experienced the same condition she treats
- Helpful features include personal stories, biblical truths, prayers, and music recommendations
In Hope Prevails, Dr. Bengtson writes with deep compassion and empathy, blending her extensive training and faith, to offer readers a hope that is grounded in God’s love and grace. She helps readers understand what depression is, how it affects them spiritually, and what, by God’s grace, it cannot do. The result is a treatment plan that addresses the whole person—not just chemical imbalances in the brain.
For those who struggle with depression and those that want to help them, Hope Prevails offers real hope for the future.
Hope Prevails is available now wherever books are sold. To find out more, see: http://drmichellebengtson.com/hope-prevails-book/.