Read: “You are better off to have a friend than to be all alone, because then you will get more enjoyment out of what you earn. If you fall, your friend can help you up. But if you fall without having a friend nearby, you are really in trouble.” Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 (CEV)
Reflect: Periodically, my wife checks-in with a specific question: “Who are your friends right now?” Her question comes from a place of care and encouragement, but it was a tough question in the past because it caused me to reflect on my utter lack of connection with others. We both knew the answer; my wife was my only true friend. Sure, I saw people at work and church that I enjoyed, but I didn’t hang out with other guys outside of those interactions. No one but my wife knew me “below the waterline.” And, I knew no one else but her in the same way.
As an introverted and fairly independent guy, I didn’t really have a problem with the way things were. I could easily justify that I was being a good husband and family man by spending all of my time off with only my family. Fortunately, because my wife experienced rich and deep friendships, she knew that making connections outside of my immediate family would be good for my emotional health.
One of the ways I developed friendships with other guys was to take the risk of starting a men’s growth group in addition to the couples’ group we were already in. There, I took the additional risk of actually talking about things under the surface – emotional pain, job stress, parenting concerns. This opened up several friendships for me, and now, when my wife asks that question, I can confidently list off several names of guys I trust and confide in.
React: God created us to connect with others with authenticity. Ask yourself: “Who are your friends right now?” Be honest with yourself as you answer. Do those on your list know you “below the waterline” and do you know them in the same way?
Pray: Lord, help me to take steps of courage, vulnerability, and authenticity to develop friendships with my whole self.