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Intimate Friendships Can Cure Loneliness

By Dr. Richard D. Dobbins
EMERGE Ministries -- Only intimate friendships can cure our loneliness. When we are about 8 or 9 years of age, we begin to long for that kind of a close relationship with another person.

This longing for intimacy creates a desperate search on the part of the child for a close friend, a buddy, or a chum. Although this level of friendship creates the capacity for greater and greater levels of intimacy, it also increases the likelihood of greater levels of loneliness when we face separation from an intimate friend, or worse yet, the loss of an intimate friend. In fact, the termination of an intimate relationship -- through death or separation -- is one of the most traumatic experiences of life.

Intimacy and loneliness are forever wrapped together in life. Intimacy involves two people who are capable of relating to each other in supportive and helpful ways. Each of them is secure enough to share his or her wholeness with the other.

Their relationship will have the following characteristics:

  • Warm affection
  • The ability and willingness to trust each other with intimate details of life
  • Growth stimulation
  • Concerned commitment
  • Willingness to share time and space
  • Unity
  • Both are surrendered to God and each other
  • Harmony
  • Nurturing intimacy is a high priority
  • Each keeps the other in touch with reality

If you want to have intimate friendships you will need to learn how to be an intimate friend. This will require you to be seen by others as:

  • neutral, not dogmatic
  • warm, not cold and distant
  • sincere, not phony
  • loving, not indifferent
  • appreciative, not demanding
  • less dominant and less self-centered

You will know when you are succeeding in your search for these characteristics when you find yourself thinking more about people and your relationships with them; engaging in more conversations and writing more personal letters; and are less likely to report wishing you were alone.

Intimate friendships provide an attachment from which you derive a sense of security; a feeling of shared activities and concerns; opportunities for nurturance, in which you take responsibility for the welfare of another person; reassurance of your worth and your competence; sense of reliable alliance, or the expectation of continued assistance in the future; and guidance, or help during times of stress and support for solving problems.

Solomon says that friends are born of adversity (see Proverbs 17:17). That is, you find your real friends when you are going through personal storms and trials. My mother used to tell me when I would try to explain some awkward situation I was in, "Son, no explanation is necessary for your friends and none is adequate for your enemies." Do you have this kind of friend in your life? Are you this kind of friend for others? Solomon said something else about friends: "There is a friend that sticks closer to you than a brother" (Proverbs 18:24).

That Friend is Jesus Christ. Is He your intimate Friend? He wants to be and He can be if you will let Him. Open your heart to Him. Confess your sins to Him. He will take the loneliness out of your life and help you to become the kind of person other people want as their close and intimate personal friend.

Dr. Richard D. Dobbins is the leader of EMERGE Ministries of Akron, Ohio. He serves on the faculty of Ashland Theological Seminary and initiated the coordination of their masters program in Pastoral Counseling. An acclaimed author, Dr. Dobbins has created numerous film/video presentations on topics of interest to believers and has written many books, booklets, articles and audiotapes on Christian mental health care.

Copyright 2001 EMERGE Ministries, Akron, Ohio. Used with persmission.

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