Rules for Genuine Friendships

By: Kathleen Yacharn

Are you there for your friends? I mean, when times are tough, when you see someone struggling, or when you hear news of bad things happening to good people, do you call them? If a friend has been job-searching for months and hasn’t found a thing, do you pay attention? Think about your social networks: if you see someone whose child is sick, who has cancer, whose grandparent has just died, what’s your reaction? It’s easy to quickly ‘like’ something and type out the “I’m so sorry;” “praying for you #hugs #xoxo” and the “call me!!”

How often do we follow it up by grabbing our phones and calling them, leaving a message, typing up a text or an email? How often do we drop to our knees in prayer? And speaking of prayer how easy is it to forget that other person’s suffering the very next day, when we begin to pray for ourselves…again?

This might sound harsh, but I can’t offer excuses since I am an offender. I love social media because it helps me connect, keep in touch (as a parent, this is key), and share with others media, humor, and beliefs that are important to me. I’m an advocate for social media and I have to admit that without some detachment, it’s easy to get sucked up into the constantly refreshed world that erases importance and keeps things out of sight and out of mind.

hands reaching outBesides the frenetic pace of several hundred friends’ updates, there are the human vices we struggle with, jealousy, bitterness, desensitization, callousness, schadenfreude, that feed off of social media. I know I’ve scrolled past the illness updates of friends without thinking about it and even rolled my eye at this post or that because, geez, can’t they just get it together? I’ve definitely gotten caught up in the cult of me and been disappointed that some funny thought or picture didn’t get the attention (read: approval) it so clearly should have. We have to remember that we are called to live like Jesus Christ lived, and loving our friends like our Lord is one of the best ways we can witness to the Truth. With these thoughts in mind, let’s revisit what real friends do for each other and remember that social media can’t be the place where our friendships grow or heal.

  1. Friends follow up. – If you say you’ll pray, pray. Right then or later, and keep them in your prayers for more than a day. Pick a saint or particular prayer and offer it up for them in their time of need.
  1. Friends reach out frequently and often. – Don’t say, “call me” but “when’s a good time to call” or ‘I’ll email you.” It can be frustrating to feel like you’re constantly reaching out to someone who doesn’t respond or reciprocate. Just remember that unless you talk to your friend, you don’t know what’s going on in their lives, for good or for bad, that is taking up their time. It’s even more shocking to find out that someone you care about has been suffering or in pain while you were disconnected or feeling snubbed.
  1. Friends are proactive. – The friends that are there for you are there at your lowest, after losing a job or when you’re unsure of your next steps. These people also call to build you up and connect on your birthday, when you have achieved a major goal, or just to say that they were thinking of you.
  1. Friends are understanding. – At times in my life, I’ve been a terrible friend. Whether I was so caught up in my own problems or so intent on enjoying life, I’ve dropped the ball in terms of reaching out. The most genuine people I know understand that we’re all at different places in life and are just happy to hear from a friend again. Show Christ-like love today and call that friend you haven’t heard from in forever. They might need you more than you know.

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