Just before I get into the blog, may I remind you of our AWI Gala that you can do with friends.
Or come along to share time with me and some of my friends that I’ve done life with over the years; raising money to rescue, rehabilitate and prosecute people caught up in human trafficking. It’s an event where you’ll have fun whilst making a difference to our global world.
Please join us if you can; if not, you can donate to this worthy cause: https://www.facebook.com/awomanofinfluenceshecan/
Let me get into my topic proper here. There are fascinating studies around friendship, some of those looking at the impact since the beginning of the global pandemic. One study in Scotland, found that students realised they needed to devote considerable effort to maintain their friendships during this time and that the energy required was largely emotional and psychological. This realisation caused the students a great deal of significant personal self-reflection.
Does this result apply to you in your friendships? Do you need to work at it? I know that I do. For most of us, I reckon, that to make a friend, takes a decision to go after the relationship, a bit of a mind shift, some effort and then all that again to maintain it. This, in the context of today’s world, where friendships can cross borders of gender, sexual orientation, age or ethnicity as long as the values of trust, respect, and support exist within it.
I believe to do friendship well, we must want to do it well. And at the same time, be strategic about it. I know that I am (and perhaps you are), motivated enough when we recognise the benefits of giving and receiving to another human being, on this sometimes lonely planet of ours. This friendship stuff has a side benefit too. Studies have found that friendship is an important factor influencing our health and well-being, although yes, it is definitely costly in time and effort too.
So what are friends, or rather, how do we define them? They tend to be people with whom we share our lives and enjoy an emotional bond with. These people can include work colleagues, family, neighbours, conventional friends and our romantic partners. What constitutes the act of friendship is that people help each other socially, psychologically and economically. And there are some interesting numbers around the topic of friendship. Most of us have a close circle of friends of around 1 to 5 people and then a group of others that are not so close, numbering up to15, with whom we would be distressed if they died. Then the numbers extend outwards to 150 people that we have a degree of friendly contact with.
I find these numbers fascinating and so I’ve been thinking about them and the science and I find it’s interesting that there is a very small group of people that we would go to when we need help. This leads me to wonder this about you and your friends. Do you ask for help? I understand this can be hard to do for some.
I have been blessed by many friends and some of those friends are my clients and I’m amazed at how they, over time, have been generous as friends would be, to give without expecting anything in return. I am prayed for regularly, my blogs are edited, we have been loaned a car, helped with my technology and WhatsApp posts, given a zoom light and a new battery for my phone and set up for hands-free in the car, plus care packages to my mother during lockdown in the nursing home. All of these, by friends.
I’m reminded that the Bible tells us it’s more blessed to give than receive (see Acts 20:35). And who else better to be blessed than those we call our friends? So, let them give! I'm excited that as they bless me, they in turn will have blessings pour down on them. This is very good news.
Allow me please to ask you an important question. Who are your friends? Can you list some of them and where do they sit in the 1-5 or 15 or 150 groups? It’s worth a little bit of time to consider those you call your friends. Are they people you would want to become friends with? As already mentioned, this will probably take you some time, effort and brain space. However, let me encourage you, it really is worth the energy although it will take to consider whether you want to begin and maintain new friendships.
And never forget, that we also have a wonderful friend whose name is Jesus and the beauty of this friendship is that we can ask for anything, any time and know that He is listening with a full heart toward us. How totally precious—this is true friendship. 
‘There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.’ John 15:13NLT
How good is that?
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 Maloy et.al, Frontiers in psychology: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9138709/
‘The Anatomy of friendship’ by R.I.M. Dunbar: Trends in cognitive sciences, (2017); Elsevier