Do You Need a Friend?
For young people-written for The Christian Science Monitor
I was reading an article the other day that talked about how hard it can be to make friends. The writer said it can be especially tough if you've moved to a new town or changed to a new school. Many of the other kids at the new school already have friends they hang around with, and it seems harder to break into the crowd.
Actually, this doesn't happen just in school. It happens all through life. I faced it myself when I changed jobs and moved several hundred miles away from my old friends. The people in the new place were perfectly nice, but they didn't seem interested in making any new friends. I felt kind of left out and very lonely.
What helped me the most was that I could pray and that I knew God would hear me. Some people think that God is off on a big cloud somewhere and doesn't really care about us. But that is a mistake. The Bible says that God is Love. Well, if someone you loved was in trouble or hurting, you would try to do something. The same is true for God. He helps us. The difference is that because God is present everywhere, there's never a time or place where He isn't helping us. Also, whatever He does for us is totally good; it's never a mixture of good and bad.
Christ Jesus made this same point when he was giving a sermon. He asked, "What man is there of you, whom if his son ask bread, will he give him a stone? Or if he ask a fish, will he give him a serpent?" He went on to say, "How much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?" (Matthew 7:9-11).
Thinking about the fact that God gives only good, I decided God would be an ideal friend to have. In addition to thinking of Him as my Father in heaven, I saw Him as my friend. I could go to Him about anything.
Having a human friend was still very much on my mind, so I asked God to help me. One of the thoughts that came to me was to stop thinking about a friend only as a physical person-to try to think more about the qualities I wanted in a friend. That was kind of a stretch at first, since what I really wanted was another human being to go places with! But I did try. On my list were these qualities: loving, friendly, kind, patient, funny, adventuresome, strong, joyful, easygoing. These were qualities I valued. I tried to express them as much as possible myself.
As I began to think about the qualities of friendship, I found there were already people around me who were expressing them. And although these people weren't close friends, they were certainly good people to know. So I began to appreciate these people and to find other qualities in them that I valued. At first this didn't seem to be quite enough-I still didn't have someone to hang out with. But then that began to happen, too, and eventually I had several really close friends, people who are still my friends years later.
What was happening while I was thinking about the qualities of friendship? I was turning away from the conclusion that there were no friends for me. Instead of trying to take a friend away from someone, I turned instead to see what God is giving each of us. There are always enough good qualities to go around. For example, you can't really measure happiness or love and pour out a cup or a quart or whatever of it. When you turn your thoughts to these qualities, you're tapping into the source of everything that's good, namely, God.
Mary Baker Eddy, who discovered Christian Science, wrote, "Man is idea, the image, of Love; he is not physique. He is the compound idea of God, including all right ideas . . ." (Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 475). Each one of us includes all the good qualities of a friend, in an individual way.
If you're in need of a friend now, you could start by seeing how God is a friend you can trust. You can go to Him about anything. You can ask Him for direction on how to find more friends. And then you can think about what qualities you would like to have in your friends-especially spiritual qualities.
Spiritual qualities come from God. When you do what you can to express these qualities yourself, and to appreciate them in others, don't be surprised when you find that the friend you were looking for is right around the corner.