When the Friendship Well Seems Dry
Recently I was struggling through something and I had several friends who really rallied around me. In the midst of it all, I found myself feeling so grateful and loved and cared for by them. I count this as a major blessing because it is true, good friends can be hard to find, especially as we get older.
Think about it, throughout our childhood, we are in a place where there is ripe potential for friendship, school. Then some of us go off to college where many times we’re away from family and the familiar and we’re thrown in together with other people who are away from family and the familiar (a perfect common ground). Then, some of us go on to graduate school where we meet people who have similar interests and drives to reach common aspirations (yet another bonding opportunity).
However, often once we leave these educational institutions it can be trickier to find a good friend. Transitions and trials don’t slow down, but it can almost feel like the “friendship well” has dried up. Either we have grown apart, fallen out, gotten too busy, or maybe we fear that others are too busy for us. At the end of the day, we’re left with few good friends and many times feeling very lonely.
So, how do you find a good friend? I think the search starts with defining what a good friend is. Jesus is the perfect example of an ideal friend. He had fun and intimate communion with his friends (e.g., John 2:2, John 21:12-13), He provided support through the challenges of life (e.g., Matthew 11:28-30, Psalms 55:22), He shared deeply and vulnerably with his disciples (e.g., John 15:15, Matthew 26:28), and He ultimately showed the greatest love by “lay[ing] down His life for his friends” (John 15:13). From Christ, we see many facets of a good friend. Someone who can enjoy the good times and be present in the hard times, someone who is vulnerable and honest, and someone who is willing to sacrifice. While no human friend will be perfect, we can all strive towards Christ’s example of friendship and desire these traits in the friends we seek.
Now, where can you find friends like this? Start by looking for people who volunteer vulnerability; those who share more than the usual niceties and instead give you a peek into their real thoughts and feelings. Look also for those who make you feel seen and heard. When you find this person, give them a little bit of extra time and attention, and be prepared to volunteer some vulnerability of your own. You may find that a potential good friend has been hiding in plain sight for a while.
Dr. Aundrea is a clinical psychologist and owner of Take Heart Counseling (www.takeheartcounseling.org). Her mission is to help people navigate life changes and relationship challenges so they can thrive. She offers psychotherapy, psychological education through public speaking and social media (@TheWestCoastPsychologist), and pastoral and organizational consultation. Prior to full-time private practice, Dr. Aundrea served as Associate Director of Clinical Training and Assistant Professor at George Fox University. She taught the first year clinical foundations course and coordinated/managed the practicum assignments for the students. Before moving to Oregon, Dr. Aundrea served as an adjunct professor and staff psychologist at Biola University, where she taught both undergraduate and graduate level courses and supervised first-year and advanced practicum students at the university’s counseling center.
Dr. Aundrea completed her internship and residency at The Guidance Center in Long Beach, California, providing individual and family therapy to children, adolescents and their family members. She earned her Doctor of Psychology degree in Clinical Psychology in 2016, from Rosemead School of Psychology at Biola University and has been licensed since 2017.