I HAVE NO CLOSE FRIENDS!
I heard the interview of a gentleman with an interesting story this week. I am certain you will learn from this story.
The gentleman by the name of Mark Gaisford did an interview where he mentioned that though he was a married man with two grown up children and loads of work colleagues who he sees regularly on Monday to Friday; he discovered that he had no friends. Marks wife works away most weekends and he realised that despite a supposedly busy professional life and the trappings of life which he had and for which most people would deem him one of the luckiest people on earth, he had no friends.
According to Mark, he had no mates to call and go to activities and other social outings with. He realised that he got more and more miserable about his state and decided to do something about the ‘No Friends’ issue. This situation got this gentleman to start thinking of what statistics say about middle aged men and friendship. YouGov poll of September 2019 showed that one out of every five men has no close friends; that is twice the number in women. Which means that one in every 10 ladies don’t have close friends either. The charity, Age UK said the problem has gone considerably worse in the last decade with 50% more men admitting to feeling lonely.
The statistics seem shocking, particularly now where social media seems to give the opportunity to reconnect with old friends and make it easier to communicate. It is however becoming more evident that; social media is not particularly helping when it comes to the issue of developing genuine friendship. Developing that close heart to heart; brother to brother or sister to sister connection is now becoming more and more of a challenge for most. How can a man with over 1000 friends on Facebook and loads of following on Instagram and twitter be lonely? It is ever so easy because there aren’t deep and genuine connections built between people.
Let me then address a couple of our assumptions. Some of us assume that as a Christian that belongs to a church family where you are an involved part of the congregation, your experience might be different. And others think that loneliness will not apply if one comes from an Afro-Caribbean background where there seems to be a stronger sense of culture and community (that’s debatable these days). The assumptions are not always right and being part of these communities does not particularly guarantee lack of loneliness or building genuine friendships.
Building genuine friendship is important, Jesus had close friends and the word of God recognises the need for a close friend and the counsel of such.
The bible says
‘The heartfelt counsel of a friend is as sweet as perfume and incense.’ Proverbs 27:9
One very interesting thing I learnt from Mark was that he did not just identify his problem and sit in a corner feeling sorry for himself nor did he wait for someone else to solve the problem for him. He decided to join a local group then went to his local pub where he has now started the process of building genuine friendship. Maybe your case isn’t as extreme as that, but you need to decide to build real Godly friendships.
Real friendships are developed intentionally and over time. A true Godly friend is the one you can call at any time, spend valuable time with, speak your heart to, listen genuinely to and get Godly counsel from. They are worthwhile gems to search for and invest in.
Make it a goal and work on developing real friendships in 2020. (I have got a little cautious advise here though …be mindful of whom you choose to develop friendship with. Ensure they can add value to you and help you get better in your own walk with God and as a person) No negative influence please!
God is on your side!