Why don’t you have any friends?

Motto: Friends are like melons…(Confucius)

In our daily activities, at work and, unfortunately, with our families, we meet people who say they don’t have friends, they feel alone and do not manage to get close to those around them. They feel like hedgehogs avoided by the rest of the world. And I’m not referring to people who are truly alone, either because they are old, newcomers to the city or new at work. I am not referring either to those who, for an objective reason, are put in the situation of being alone for a longer period of time. I am referring to those who are always surrounded by people, who interact with others on a daily basis, and who yet do not manage to emotionally get close to others. More exactly ... they don’t know how to make friends. They don’t know how to be friends for others.

 “I feel so alone, I have no one, there’s no one I can share a good thought with, a joy or a grief. No one here wants to deal with me”, a young man complained, speaking on the phone to his mother. Before getting an answer, he continued on an irritated tone, addressing a passer-by: “Hey, watch it! You stepped on my shoe!”. Sometimes funny, but usually just tragic: we are so crowded that we step on each other’s shoes, but we still declare ourselves alone...

Take a step, raise your shoe from your neighbour’s and smile to him. Address a nice word to him and shake his hand. Take the first step towards a relationship. Those feeling alone often wait for others to invite them out, call them, and keep waiting ... And if this doesn’t happen, they remain as alone as before, while also growing frustrated. Do you feel alone? Maybe you truly are! What if you looked for someone’s company, initiated a discussion, invited someone to dinner, joined a group, sat next to someone and smiled politely. And OK… after breaking the ice, be careful how you maintain the relationship. Don’t call your friend just to talk about your problems, don’t speak only about yourself, about the things you did, about what you’d like to do, about how important you are. Now, the two of you are plural “you” (together), but if you don’t yet have much to share about your common experience, you are in turn... you… him... you... him. After gloriously passing this stage, your relationship begins to grow stronger, you find out more about the other and ... now it’s tricky. What do you do now? You are different, you have other dreams and life plans, you perceive reality uniquely and, at a certain point, there will be differences of opinion, conflicts of ideas. Will these be obstacles in the way of your friendship? Will ambition, envy, prejudice gain ground against your relationship? Now is the time to remember how you got to be alone and avoided by others in the first place. Is it because of your arrogance, tendency to judge, giving patronizing advices, being overly controlling? You don’t want to reach the same point, so you need to put an effort in managing conflicts. Be honest, but respectful! Don’t hurt the other person’s feelings or their self-image with reckless words. Come on, it’s not hard! It would be harder to stick to your feelings of envy that can appear in a friendship. Who is better, richer, more beautiful, who has more success, who is more right? It would be ideal to accept a simple answer: Sometimes you. Sometimes the other. It’s not a fight, not a competition – it’s just a friendship. If you are in competition, then you can be colleagues at your workplace, school, you can be engaged in a business relationship, but don’t call yourselves friends.

So, no envy, no backstabbing, no passive aggressive remarks, no emotional blackmail, no wickedness, no manipulations, no suspicions, no ambitions ... so that you don’t become friendless again.

And if your friendship ends without you breaking the “rules of the game”, don’t lose faith. “Friends are like melons. To find a good one, you must try a hundred”, Confucius said. Maybe there’s no need to try so many and get disappointed again and again, but when you find a valuable one, treat him accordingly!

Ellen White draws attention to the influence of friendship on one’s life and decisions: “Everyone will find companions or make them. And just in proportion to the strength of the friendship, will be the amount of influence which friends will exert over one another for good or for evil. All will have associates, and will influence and be influenced in their turn”. She also observes that “Christian sociability is altogether too little cultivated by God's people”.

However, true friendship is an attitude that God finds pleasure in. He’s very pleased whenever he sees his children living together in harmony: “The Author of all beauty, God provided to gratify in His children the love of beauty. He made provision also for their social needs, for the kindly and helpful associations that do so much to cultivate sympathy and to brighten and sweeten life”.

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