“God has so ordained things that we grow in the Spirit only through the frail instrumentality of one another.”
― ALAN JONES
THEY SAY, ‘A friend in need is a friend indeed,’ and I think that captures the essence of real friendship – that ability to consider someone with a need more a friend than someone who’s ‘fine’ by themselves. After all, from the healthiest viewpoint, we all like to be needed; it’s healthy so long as there is a high degree of reciprocation. It’s no good us being too needy or not being needy enough. Most of friendship, however, is not about neediness at all.
But we do need each other much more than we often realise.
In fact, we know how much we need love when there is the void of it; when those we may spend the majority of our time with have little to offer, or they offer only intermittently.
A good friend is a sounding board and they are a sanctuary where we can feel safe. They lighten our burdens, even if only for a short time. They can help us reframe our thoughts and gently recorrect us.
When Friend is Counsellor or Counsellor is Friend
The best counsellors are safe enough within themselves to offer their full selves to their clients. For the counselling relationship they are a friend walking beside them. It wouldn’t be appropriate to carry the friendship on beyond the counselling room, but whilst they meet for their 50-60 minutes, there should be warmth, empathy and genuineness – Carl Rogers called it unconditional positive regard.
But a friend can offer more, though they cannot be a fully functional counsellor in the strictest vein.
In the biblical sense, we know we are supposed to hold the one-another realm as almost equal to our relationship with God so far as its importance and relevance to our spiritual health. Indeed, God mediates between friends!
We are to honour one another (Romans 12:10), confess our sins to one another (James 5:16), bear one another’s burdens (Galatians 6:2), build one another up (1 Thessalonians 5:11) and even bear with one another (Ephesians 4:2). This list goes on.
A particularly rough patch in life is helped never more than by spending time with someone who’ll simply listen, be there, no judge, and not advise – unless we have invited it.
Real friends are real and allow us to be real. They are God’s healing touch when we let them in. Likewise, we are privileged when God uses us to help them.
© 2013 S. J. Wickham.