8 Characteristics of True #Friendshipgoals

(Pictured above: Some of my friendship community 😍 We're all so different yet each of
us coming together has helped the others grow)

The older I get, the more I realize how wrong I've viewed friendship most of my childhood, teenage, and early 20's years. The people in your circle really do impact so much of what you do in life. That's why you have to surround yourself with real friends. Today's society can be driven by superficial social media friendships that can give a false sense of a tight-knit circle, so it's incredibly important to be rooted in biblical #goals of friendship, instead of what society promotes as friendships. The friends we have as our "community" should help us on our journey to walk in purpose, not distract from it.

Be honest: A good chunk of your friendships as a kid were/are because of proximity, or closeness. You were in the same class, liked the same color, lived in a similar neighborhood, had a mutual friend, etc. and over time, if you didn't work on deepening the relationship, it fizzled out. For many of us, friendships based on proximity have continued to be how we form friendships, and unintentionally, we typically stay shallow in these friendships. Thinking about this and the idea that true friends help make you beter, the Holy Spirit directed me to the book of Ruth. Normally, this text is used as a biblical example of dating, but as I studied, I realized Ruth and Naomi perfectly depict characteristics of a friendship that you need in life to accomplish what God wants you to do on earth.


As I study the book of Ruth and mature in my own understandings of friendships, I believe #friendshipgoals looks a lot like...

1. Pushing past initial shallow circumstances. Ruth and Naomi's relationships started by a "mutual relationship," (Ruth's husband/Naomi's son, Mahlon). When Mahlon died unexpectedly, they found themselves both suffering loss and grief which really connected them. Their relationship developed into a deeper friendship because they stuck together beyond just when everything was going well in life. What do you know about your friends? If you can only describe surface level interests about your friends, you may want to re-evaluate why is that and if it's time to develop deeper roots in the friendship. Think about a plant- if it's not deeply planted, when storms come, it's easy to be uprooted and destroyed. Strong friendships will push you and strengthen you in ways you didn't know you needed, but you have to create atmospheres that allow for it first.

True friendships take work just like any relationship. Take time to truly learn about someone beyond the initial commonality you share. Ask questions. Pray that they are the right person to go through life with you and then be intentional to develop a bond that extends past liking the same type of music or attending the same school.

2.Being open and comfortable enough to be vulnerable- With emotions out of whack because of their grief, they had to be willing to rely on each other to get through it. Naomi was reluctant at first, but when she saw Ruth's determination, she became more willing to navigate the trial together. So often we push people away when we're struggling. We have to be willing to embrace those who are willing to come alongside us in trials. Proverbs 17:17 tells us that being a loving friend is a 24/7 job, and even more, difficulties and misfortune reveal who will stick closer than a friend; like a brother will. This is why you first want to put in the work to have a deeper knowledge of the person as a way to establish trust. Vulnerability cannot exist in a relationship where there is distrust. Also, vulnerability should be reciprocal. If you're the only one being honest, transparent, and vulnerable, that may be a red flag to pray about the friendship.

Be willing to be vulnerable with those who want to stick with you beyond just the bright and sunny good days. Be intentional to establish and maintain trust in the relationship. This also includes approaching conflict and resolving it, instead of pettily holding grudges and avoiding those tough confrontations.

3. Embracing selflessness instead of selfishness (Ruth 1:6-13)-  Both of Naomi's daughter-in-laws were now widowed. All 3 began heading back to Naomi's homeland, without their spouses and most likely grieving together. Naomi suddenly stops and encourages them to stop journeying with her and instead go back to their homeland to be remarried. Being widowed was not ideal in society and the daughter-in-laws were young. They still had enough youth to be remarried, whereas Naomi knew because of her age, she would be least likely to be remarried. While it may have been comforting to have her daughter-in-laws with her, Naomi wanted them to have a restored life with new husbands rather than selfishly keep them for herself.

Are you so focused on your own needs and wants that you can't see how your selfishness will hinder progression and growth in your friends? Make decisions that encourage others to win in life too, instead of just you. 

4. Having unwavering loyalty (Ruth 1:14-18)-  Ruth refused to abandon Naomi in her time of need. It reminds me a lot of marriage vows; "for better or for worse." It made me think, Do I really stick around to weather storms with my friends? Do I stick with them even when they push me away to self-loathe? The Bible says "Ruth clung to her." Ruth told Naomi to stop discouraging her from staying. She was adamant to stay loyal to Naomi, despite how Naomi's leading may have impacted her negatively. 

Does your loyalty easily waver with a friend? Does it take much for you to detach yourself from a friend who's experiencing a trial? No matter what the storm looks like, will you stay by their side even when storms are raging? We need cheerleaders, more so, when circumstances look grim, than when everything is sunny and bright.

5. Providing wise counsel for OTHER relationships (Ruth 2:19-23, 3:1-5) When a man, Boaz, approached Ruth to establish a relationship, Naomi encouraged and counseled her on what to do. This would be Ruth's second relationship, and cultural ceremonies required a kinsman redeemer to marry the widow. Ruth was not a part of Jewish culture, and Naomi came alongside her to coach her through exactly what to do. Ruth entrusted Naomi's wisdom particularly because Ruth was unaware of Jewish customs she would need to follow.

Are you level-headed and discerning enough that friends come to you for help to make important decisions? Are you surrounded by friends that you can get counsel from? If you can't trust your friends to provide advice rooted in morality and maturity, you need new friends. Their decision-making will impact you one way or another; let it have the right impact.

6. Checking in on progress (Ruth 3:16-18). Have you ever had a friend who gave you advice but told you were on your own if you got caught or if something went wrong? It seems dishonest. Naomi gave Ruth advice and checked in how everything was progressing. Once Ruth actually did what Naomi told her to do, Naomi checked in, showing that she was invested in the outcome of the counsel she gave. 

It's easy to give suggestions for ways to solve your problems, but true friends will stick with you after you followed it. They want to see if it worked and if they need to strategize the next plan with you. Coaches are great, but sometimes you prefer people actually in the game with you running the plays. Are your friends invested enough to stay with you through the process of your progression?

7. Bringing each other along on the "come up" (Ruth 4: 14-17). It all goes back to the selflessness. True friends don't leave you out of the elevation, particularly because they realize you were a part of the journey. The book of Ruth ends with Ruth remarried and giving birth to a child, Obed, who was King David's grandfather. Basically, Ruth, despite her non-Jewish heritage, becomes a part of the family line of Jesus Christ. What a beautiful story! AND Naomi had a part. When Ruth birthed the baby, the women in the town actually attributed the happy event to Naomi too, saying God had restored and nourished her. Though Ruth was the one who birthed the baby, everyone honored and revered Naomi for her hand in the entire situation. 

True friends recognize the role each played on their journey, so they celebrate each other and give credit where it's due. As God continues to elevate you in life, are you pulling your friends up with you? If they supported you through the lowest moments of your journey, take them to your highest moments too.
Both women received restoration and gladness because of the journey that their relationship took them through and how they grew stronger through embracing trials together. Naomi and Ruth showcase #friendshipgoals after going through tragedy, brokenness and grief together. So such healing comes from the RIGHT people in your "community." Choose your friendships wisely, not carelessly. Ruth and Naomi's stories would've ended so much differently, if they hadn't clung to each other and become rooted in their relationship that led to restoration for them both.

Lastly, notice that Ruth and Naomi weren't exactly the same. Different backgrounds. Different ages. Different life experiences. Their differences actually strengthened their relationship. My friendship community has a 15 year range in ages. Some are deep in their careers, some aren't. Some are millennials, some aren't. God has used all of our differences to help us push each other. We all see things differently and when we converse, we learn new things from one another. It works.  Can I encourage you to shift your perspective to finding friends who AREN'T exactly like you? #friendshipgoals is far beyond what we often are trained to think.

Thankful for my Community,

Dear God, Thank you for good, godly community. Who we surround ourselves with ultimately pushes us closer or further from you, so help us make the right choices. Show us who you've called to join us on the journey and who you haven't. There's such healing and power in the right community, and we don't have time to make the wrong choices. Also, God, help us be the right friend in our own relationships. I pray each and every reader of this post, including myself. Let us pause and reflect on our loyalties to those around us and make any necessary reprimands to restore or renew relationships in our lives. In Jesus' name, I pray. Amen.