Christian friendships and relationships have a lot of different dimensions. They can be anything from a close marriage and romance to best friends for life, or even just good friends or coworkers with whom you get along well.
Peta Soorkia is a former Pastor and Christian Therapeutic Life Coach who leads the organisation Empowering You. Peta recently joined us on 20Twenty to talk about her new coaching series, Why Friends? and to share her thoughts on how to have a good balance in our relationships.
Friendships Take Work
It can be very hard for itinerant workers who move around a lot to maintain friendships, but Peta recommends that we seek out new friends when we can. They can bring just as much joy to our lives as old friends who have been around a long time.
‘It’s good to have a balance of both,’ says Peta. ‘It takes time to cultivate the sorts of friendships we want to be a part of. The Bible talks about friendship, and it is something that we might have to work at. But it’s so worth the effort.’
Generally, most people have between two and five really close friends to do life with. Science tells us that it’s very therapeutic to have those people. If you think of it as a circle, we’re in the centre and the 2 to 5 people are in a small circle around us.
‘Then we have a greater circle with a few more people,’ says Peta. ‘On average, that is about 15 people. We’d be really upset if they died, and we would go to their funeral and connect with their families. That’s that mixed group of closest friends.’
Our Circle of Friends
Then most of us have a wider circle around us that’s about 150 friends. We might occasionally meet up with them for coffee, and those people are quite important in our lives to keep things humming along.
‘But of course, God is into best friends, isn’t he?’ says Peta. ‘The Bible does talk about Jesus laying down his life for his friends. But it also goes on to say in John:15 that He calls us friends. So we are best friends with Jesus because that’s where He wants to be. There’s no greater friend than someone who is there for you 24/7 no matter what you are going through.’
No matter how we feel, God is with us. We have the opportunity to go to Him whenever we need to. He is our number one best friend. But all friendships require effort. The Bible also talks about friendship itself in Proverbs. We must be friendly to be a friend, and to have friends.
God is Our Best Friend
‘The comforter is also another name for the Holy Spirit,’ says Peta. ‘When we are in need, He can be the one that wraps His arms around us. We are to walk through the valley of darkness. The Bible doesn’t say we jump over it or skirt around it. Even though we walk through the valley of darkness in the shadow of death, He is right beside us.’
Friends can show us, just as the Lord does, how they care by just being there. They can help by listening and empathising with the space we’re in. In counselling terms, this is known as being attuned to your patient. We display the heart of God because that’s exactly where He is.
‘Just ask the Lord about your attitude towards your friends,’ says Peta. ‘How does that need to change? If you pray He’s going to show you. Maybe that means listening to someone no matter what they’re going through.’
‘Perhaps we can be the hands and feet of Jesus at this time for this person. It’s not a bad thing to self-reflect on your attitude and your actions in the area of friendship.’