Sipping a steaming cup of coffee with girlfriends always recharges me. The brewing aroma heightens my sense of anticipation for an enjoyable afternoon, while the caffeine boosts my physical energy level. However, the part of the coffee klatch I like the best is the gratifying conversation that satisfies my hankering heart. Friends fulfill an important need in our lives. God desires for our friendships to be vital and rejuvenating. Good girlfriends will be there when you need assistance in life. Ecclesiastes explains it like this, "If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up!" (4:10 NIV). I thank God for all the wonderful friends He has granted me throughout my life.
However, not all friendships are created equal. I have discovered that just like cups of coffee, friends come in a myriad of varieties. Friendship comes in varying degrees of strength and longevity. Over the years, I have become aware of five types of friends.
The decaf friend is the chum who you enjoy chatting with on occasion, but the relationship doesn't give a strong boost to your day. The depth of the relationship feels shallow. Although pleasant, the friendship will never move past the superficial topics to real heart-to-heart conversations. Most friends fall into this category. Decaf friends are fun and needed. They give our lives balance and social equilibrium.
Some friendships turn out as short and sweet. We find these buddies usually through group associations. They can be a church small group, coworkers, or perhaps a group of parents for a child's soccer team. Similar interests and functions bind these camaraderies together.
All my children enjoyed participating in sports throughout the year. I developed terrific friends while waiting during practice, yelling at games, and worrying over injured players. Proverbs 27:9 tells us, "Perfume and incense make the heart glad, but the sweetness of a friend is a fragrant forest." (God's Word) However, those friendships waned overtime as our children grew up and the interests we shared dissolved. I remember those espresso pals fondly. I thank God for these short, but strong friends who shared so much of life's activities with me.
Acidic Instant Coffee Friends
I would be remiss, if I did not recognize the fact that not all friends are good friends. In my life, I have encountered a few friendships that turned sour. I call these "acidic instant coffee friends." They each left a bitter taste when the relationship evaporated. In hindsight, these women never fully engaged in true friendship. By backbiting and gossip, these "friends" wounded my spirit. I learned the truth of Proverbs 27:6, "Wounds from a friend can be trusted, but an enemy multiplies kisses" (NIV). A few supposed girlfriends exposed themselves as enemies. The masquerade of harmony disappeared down a murky hallway of lies and hurt feelings.
Another destructive trait of bitter instant coffee friends is they might encourage you to stray from doing the correct thing. For this type of friend, the Bible gives a word of caution, "A righteous man is cautious in friendship, but the way of the wicked leads them astray." (Proverbs 12:26 NIV) Beware of "companions" who detour you from God's perfect plan for your life. Several years ago, I befriended someone who I believed I could mentor. Instead, the table turned and she led me into some sinful activities. Finally, I knew I must completely break-off the friendship. Thankfully, God showed me, in His wisdom, the destructive path of that friendship.
Cappuccino friends are important confidants. Usually, we will have several of these at one time. These strong friendships endure with time and distance. They may be a girlfriend you chat with only a couple of times a year, but the deep love and trust you have for each other maintains the friendship without frequent care and nurturing. The Message describes this type of friend as, "Friends come and friends go, but a true friend sticks by you like family (Proverbs 18:24). My cappuccino friends would fly across the country to be with me in an emergency, yet we may only visit one another occasionally. I value these friends as a gift from God.
Ah, Latte Friends are my favorite. These sweet long-lasting relationships deliciously flavor my life. Usually, you will only come across three or four of these treasures during a lifetime. These allies know and guard your secrets. They help you to see yourself for who you really are inside. They discern the good and the bad traits of your personality. Latte friends will tell you the truth; they "speak the truth in love." (Ephesians 4:15).
These invaluable companions in life will be your inner circle, in a sense they become spiritual soul mates. Sometimes these life companions become more like family than your own biological relatives do. Latte friends love you through all of life's joys and sorrows. Proverbs 17:17 describes them as, "A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity."
Sweet long-lasting friendships brew over time. Their strength increases with relational experiences. The depth of relationship matures through life's uncertain circumstances. Savor your latte friends; they are a gift from God.
However, perhaps you feel your life lacks good friends. If so, ask God to provide friendships to enhance your life. Pray for a godly friend. Author Emily Griffin writes, "Prayer, it seems disposes us to friendship, in that it more and more lays us open to experience from any source…And because of prayer, it somehow becomes possible to take up each friendship into ourselves and make it part of own way of loving, so that the next experience of a loving heart becomes an expansion not only of ourselves, but of all the loves we already bear within us, enriching all those affections already embedded in our hearts."
My dearest latte girlfriend arrived as an answer to prayer. I asked God to send me a friend who could spur me on to a deeper faith. Within weeks after praying for a godly friend, we met. For me she fulfills the adage, "You use steel to sharpen steel, and one friend sharpens another." (Proverbs 27:17 The Message) She's a precious jewel right from the hand of God, given to me after I prayed for a friend.
Also, be the type of friend to other women that you desire in your own life. Remember, many people are lonely and just looking for someone to offer them a sip from a cup of friendship. Reach out and offer them a taste of your fellowship.
Finally, God desires us to be grateful to the brim for our friends. Thank him for the friendships in your life, and then write notes to your friends thanking them for their matchless place in your life. Or better yet, call-up a girlfriend and invite her to coffee, your treat. Then relax for a while and enjoy a cup of friendship.