Majoring in Life
How to find new friends without being a leech, a loner or a lamenter.
Scripture passages in this lesson are linked to this page for easy access.
Lesson 5: Finding New Friends
(Without having to beg for them)
Text written and copyrighted © 2002 by Manfred Koehler. Used by permission. All rights reserved.)
Tiffany walked through the cafeteria, lunch tray in hand, her eyes wide. She scanned the room, desperate for an empty table. She hated empty tables. But she didn't know anyone, so what choice did she have? Don't slow down, don't stop, keep moving. It was all she could do not to swallow. Someone would surely notice such a juvenile gesture, labeling her as a newbie—which she was, but no sense letting the whole campus know.
This would be a bad time to trip. Oh, she could see it now. Diet Pepsi and BLT launched all over the heads and clothing of three tables' worth of occupants.
The thought made her freeze.
Two guys briefly glanced her way, then casually continued their conversation. Tiffany closed her eyes, unbelieving. Why am I here in the middle of this walkway acting like road kill? Move! Opening her eyes, she jerked one foot forward. The tall glass on her tray rattled. Her gaze riveted on the rocking soda, she forced herself forward.
The conversations buzzing around her seemed to pick up a notch. Ears perked, Tiffany heard the word she from several directions. Someone else said the word tray.
Is every one of them whispering about me? Is there nothing better to talk about? Her eyes, now wider than ever, darted from the BLT to the Pepsi and back. Her breathing grew shallow. Her nose twitched. She needed a place to sit fast.
Out of the corner of her eye, she saw an empty table.
Go, girl. Total concentration. You can do it. Weaving through scattered chairs, bobbing heads, and table corners, she was within five feet of her target when it happened.
Her toe connected with a chair leg, sending it scraping. Tiffany stumbled forward. I knew it! The tray lurched to one side, glass and sandwich plate sliding. Tipping it the other way, she overcorrected. Her lunch seesawed. Tiffany yelped and slammed her tray down with a clatter—two tables beyond the one she had picked.
Heart pounding, head hanging, soda sloshing, she stood, hands like claws on each side of the tray. Lord, open the ground and swallow me, please. Unclasping her fingers, her body a bowl of jelly, she folded herself into a chair.
Too embarrassed to look around, she closed her eyes. Lord, I can't believe that just happened. I'm an absolute wreck! Ever since I've come to this crazy place, it's been a full-time job living inside my head. I think it would help me relax if I had another friend like you, one with skin on. Please send her along soon. Thanks for listening. I know you're there.
Eyes glistening with tears, she opened them. A blurred figure approached her table. Great. I'm an emotional basket case, and someone wants to sit with me. Squeezing the tears away with a blink, she fought to focus.
A beaming face greeted her. "Tiffany?"
Tiffany's eyelids fluttered in confusion. The voice was familiar.
"Do you remember me?"
Tiffany shook her head a quarter of an inch.
"Camp Bethel. I'm Kelly Gibson. We canoed together once."
"You're kidding!" Tiffany broke into a smile. Wow, that feels strange on my face. "What happened to all your hair?"
"That's a long story," Kelly replied, one hand rubbing the back of her head. "I can't believe you're here! This place is so huge, I feel totally lost. I was just asking God to help me find someone I recognize."
"Quick, sit down," Tiffany laughed, "before you drop your tray."
Of Leeches, Loners, and Lamenters
Friendship is a strange thing.
You desperately need it. Your soul is designed to thrive on it. You crave for someone to understand who you are and where you've come from. If you don't have it, something aches inside. But when friendship is yours in a deep, unconditional way, your heart sings.
Praise God for Jesus. His unfailing friendship is completely understanding and totally unconditional (Proverbs 18:24).
Yet, when it comes to human friendship, if you cling too tightly, it seems to disappear. People glance at their watches, make lame excuses, are suddenly unavailable. You see them gravitate to others. You grasp, wanting something back, but all you catch is a half-hidden yawn, a roll of the eyeballs, a cold shoulder.
No one likes a leech. Someone who sucks people dry, taking with nothing to give.
Soooo. You pull back, you shrivel. You'll never be labeled a leech again. Friendship's not gonna burn you twice.
Instead, you turn into a loner. Someone who always prefers to be alone.
Even if you avoid the mistake of being too desperate for a friend, things change. After investing years to make some great relationships, you move, they move. Phones and instant messaging don't quite cut it. It's not over, but it's not the same. You're miles away, facing the challenge of making friends all over again. It's enough to make most people want to cry.
You become a lamenter. Someone who moans away the present while dwelling in the past.
Time for a New Outlook
Friendship is not about having. It's about giving.
Think about your forever Friend, the One who sticks closer than a brother. What did you ever do to earn his friendship? Isn't his heart toward you a never-ending flow of unselfish giving? He started your friendship with him by giving his life. He continues to give you his life—all you'll take of it (John 10:10). Give. Give. Give. That's the attitude of the Man who was called a friend of tax-collecting cheats and prostitutes (Luke 7:34). That's the attitude that won your soul to him.
That's the attitude you need to pass on.
If you're a leech, you need to stop leeching. Start giving.
If you're a loner, you need to crack open your shell. Reach out. It's not God's good, perfect, and acceptable will for you to selfishly hide the life he's provided. There are souls—both loners and popular types whom Jesus wants you to touch. Lose the loner label. Take the risks. Start giving.
If you're a lamenter, crying over yesterday's friendships, you need to get a grip. Splash some cold water on your face. There are people out there more hungry for a good friend than you are—all over the place. Forget about yourself. Go be what they so desperately need. Start giving.
Assuming You're Sold
Ready to take the challenge? Convinced that friendship is something not to be sought but to be imparted? Ready to get beyond merely praying for God to send a friend when his goal for you is so much higher?
Then it's time to take inventory of your abilities as an amigo.
Use God's Word to awaken and sharpen the skills you need to deeply bless the people he brings your way. Take a concordance and look under "friend" and its derivatives. Do a study. Meditate large and long on the concept of being a good friend.
Here are a few starting points. Master these and you'll never need to beg God for a friend again:
- A good friend takes interest in the lives of others (Philippians 2:4).
- A good friend listens more than she talks (James 1:19).
- A good friend speaks every word with care (Ephesians 4:29).
- A good friend keeps his promise, even when it costs him (Psalm 15:4).
- A good friend has a handle on destructive emotions (Proverbs 22:24).
- A good friend enjoys being generous, no strings attached (Proverbs 19:6).
- A good friend keeps a confidence, without fail (Proverbs 16:28).
- A good friend knows how to apologize (Matthew 5:23-24).
- A good friend knows how to forgive (Ephesians 4:32).
- A good friend is eager to encourage (Proverbs 27:9).
- A good friend never stops loving (Proverbs 17:17).
Does it go without saying that Jesus, your best friend, walks with you? Count on it. As you reach out, don't go it alone. Lock arms with Jesus and be a giving friend.