friend (frɛnd) — n 1. a person known well to another and regarded with liking, affection, and loyalty (from the World English Dictionary)

SONY DSCThat word has been on my heart lately. What kind of friend am I? Is there such thing as a ‘bad’ friend? Probably not, because that person would technically not really be a friend, right?

What characteristics does a friend portray? What actions would they take for someone with whom they want to be friendly? How would they feel toward that person?

I cannot fully answer any of those questions, but I can tell you what I’ve observed and learned. I’ve learned that I’m not much a friend. But I’ve also resolved to work on that. Here’s what else I’ve observed…

We just finished studying Esther in my Bible Study. There are a lot of things you can pick up and learn from that book and the different people involved. I led the study on Chapter 4, and the one thing that stuck with me was how concerned Esther was for Mordecai when she found out that he was mourning, covered in sackcloth and sitting in ashes. She was highly distressed at his state, tried to comfort him, and then sought the reason for his mourning – so that she could really mourn with him. She didn’t just want to cry for him out of sympathy. She wanted to get to know exactly what was on his heart. I can do that. I can train myself to ask the deep questions. I can ask God to give me wisdom to know when and how to ask those questions.

Sometimes at church we have special days for testimonies from the community. Two of my favorite people gave witness of what God has been doing in their lives a few weeks ago – and it reminded me that a friend should be praying for and constantly seeking ways to encourage the people in their lives.  And not just out of sympathy, but by witnessing their lives and getting into the hard things along with them.

I follow a blog that was created by and for women who are not living in their home cultures (Velvet Ashes). One blog post was entitled “Creating Space for God” and included these few paragraphs:

Jesus longs to impart Himself to you – aspects of Himself He wants to embed into the core of your being.

And I need you filled up with Him.  When I need life spoken into me, I need Jesus spoken into me.  When my soul needs encouragement and refreshment, I want to be met with the kindness and courage of God.  My needs run way deeper than what you can touch. But Jesus in you can touch places in my soul I didn’t even know needed healing and refreshment and courage.

So, if you won’t do it for you, would you do it for me? Would you expand your capacity to be with Him so when I meet you, I experience Him?

When I read that, it was like reading a letter from all of my friends.  This.  This is how to be a friend, in the truest sense of the word.  And, oh, how often I fail to allow Jesus to impart himself to me.

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