by Bruno Borges, Men’s Minister
“I just wish I had a guy friend!”
That is one of the most common phrases I hear amongst guys. Not only have most of us struggled our whole lives in connecting with men, but it seems like the older we get, the harder it becomes to establish new friendships. Some of us can’t even fathom the idea that Jesus had twelve, TWELVE, guy friends who just traveled with him everywhere when we just wanted one or two.
Many factors make friend-making difficult for men in general. Responsibilities at work, family, and children can certainly utilize most of our desired social time. Technology and social media have distanced us from authentic, face-to-face relationships and driven us into superficial digital connections. Never have we had so many “friends” and fewer-to-no genuine relationships. And for those who struggle with unwanted same-sex attractions, we add the fear that we may feel attracted to any guy we attempt to come close to. So, the desire to have a friend turns into the struggle of believing the lie that we should and could never be friends with another guy, leading us to bury ourselves in feelings of sorrow and loneliness.
But God has created us all to be relational with Him and others. We are made to coexist and thrive in a community. Therefore, my prayer is that we understand the truth that friendship is not a luxury but a relational necessity. God calls us to enter friendships to reflect His love for one another and to be challenged to grow in all areas of our lives. So here are some steps that can help us get out of our funk and make some friends:
1. Set Aside Some Time
Just like we must set aside time to eat, sleep, and run errands, we must set time aside for friends. Being a friend means we may have to give up something to cultivate a relationship. We can easily go into a victim mentality that thinks no one cares about us or pursues us. However, we must be honest about how much we pursue others. Although that may be a legitimate perspective, it may also be true that we are reaping what we sowed. Relationships take time and effort, but any investment in a good and healthy friendship is worth more than any loss.
2. Stop Overthinking and Act
If you have spoken 2-3 phrases to yourself that start with, “What if…,” you may already be overthinking this. We can be our worst enemy when it comes to only seeing the negative side of things and putting up all kinds of barriers that don’t even exist. Granted, we may have some legitimate resistance due to previous relationships, but that cannot stop us from trying again. So, take the initiative to ask a potential friend to grab some coffee or just go to that upcoming church event to meet some new people.
“Oh, but I am an introvert.” No, you’re not! We have ALL hidden behind that excuse at some point to stay in our comfort zone. If we think about other established relationships in our lives, we will see how far from introverts we are when we feel comfortable with the people around us. But we must go through the initial uncomfortable steps to reach our comfort zone. When we get there, many of us become the party’s life.
3. Take the Opportunity to Learn
Conversations about sports or other topics that don’t interest you can be daunting. Be honest that you may not understand what is being discussed and ask questions. However, this is an excellent opportunity to learn about that topic. You may be surprised and find a new hobby or interest.
Also, be open to attending sports or other events that interest your friends. I have learned to appreciate football or baseball games by attending them with my friends, but I have also invited them to attend the theatre and other events. Such interactions allow for bonding and sharing our passions and interests. What’s important to my friend is important to me, and vice versa.
4. Stay Hopeful
As you consider taking these steps, look ahead with hope and anticipation. Think back to when you experienced deeper community. Even though you may still feel pain from failed attempts at connecting with others, you don’t know what tomorrow will bring. God has a plan for you in the future if you remain faithful.
So, before you give up, remember two truths: First, Jesus isn’t just the model for true friendship; He is our most faithful friend. He initiates a friendship with us, and we receive it on terms of grace. And second, He delights for us to ask for true community in His name. God alone can create, renew, and strengthen the deepest human relationships. Pray and ask God to make your efforts at friendship fruitful. Then trust Him, be prayerful and patient, and keep taking steps toward others through the strength that He gives you.