Part 5 – Cautions and Risk Factors - Get Connected and Stay Connected Article Series
A Series Devoted to Quality, Committed Relatedness By Dr. Joyce at The Caring Heart from Spokane Washington

“A wise man is cautious and avoids danger; a fool plunges ahead with great confidence.” (Proverbs 14:16)

“The common bond of rebels is their guilt. The common bond of godly people is their good will.” (Proverbs 14:9)

As we know, for a variety of reasons, friendships don’t always develop or last. Having a relationship turn sour or being abandoned by a valued friend can both be extremely painful experiences. We should be aware that, not only can we get hurt but the other person can likewise be hurt.

Perhaps we need to really be impressed with the fact that not all people are good matches as friends. While we might want someone to be our friend, the other person may not want to, and that’s that! Also, the other person may already have too much to attend to in his or her life to absorb a friendship’s time and nurturance. We need to remember that first impressions are often inaccurate. We shouldn’t jump to conclusions about someone we’ve just met. In the past, I used to be particularly influenced by people whose voices seemed soft and gentle. I would assume hat the people were very good, and tended to idealize them, only to find out later that they had faults, too. It’s easy to err in the negative direction also, being influenced by some external characteristics, the setting at the time, or casual conversation, only to miss a real gem of a person. We need to give people a chance to let us know them, just like we want to be given a chance.

As Christians, we need to be careful who we commit ourselves to as close friends. We are not to be unequally yoked; that is, really involved in and committed to someone who is not God fearing and endeavoring to walk in Christ’s Way. Such folks can lead us astray, even in subtle ways. However, we are to be friendly to all, otherwise how could we be a positive influence on them spiritually? We need real wisdom and discernment in our affairs with others. Moreover, we really need to have an accurate picture of ourselves!

Another important factor to keep in mind is that trust is at a low point in our culture today. People seem particularly distrustful of one another, and are reluctant to make friends because they are afraid to be hurt, usually because they’ve been hurt too many times before. Emotionally, they may not be able to tolerate someone being very close to them. Sometimes, they will respond to friendly overtures after a lot of patience and understanding. Other times, they just won’t relate, which is sad. Hopefully, you and I aren’t in that latter category - too afraid to share our love and time with a friend!

We also need to keep in mind the fact that not all personalities walking around are healthy ones. The frequency of personality disorders of one sort or another is very great, and a high percentage are never diagnosed. Addictions of all sorts are epidemic also. You may not find out for years that your “nice guy” neighbor who you have barbeques with is a meth user. Our society includes many con-artist types, who have little or no conscience, but who are quite capable of acting like sweet, innocent angels when they want to. Also, many people with diagnosed mental illness are able to function fairly well in society through the aid of psychotropic medications. While persons with ailing personalities of one sort or another need friends, too, and often make very good friends, they can be more difficult and more erratic to relate to. They may have ideosyncracies which seem strange to us. Unfortunately, they can also be unreliable, manipulative, and downright harmful. They may be abusive. We need to use wisdom tempered with love in such situations.

Too, many people now days make friends on a temporary basis, and do not expect the relationships to last long. They want a buddy for the situation at hand, and when the situation is over, seem to reflect that it is “understood” that the friendship is over. On to the next situation and the next temporary buddy! And then there are those folks who really don’t want to part with their evenings and weekends spent totally involved with their TV, their computer, their sports, or whatever. Friends really are intrusions on their private activities.

For those who haven’t yet found the friend or friends to cherish and spend great, satisfying times with, DON’T EVER STOP TRYING!! An old staying is probably true more often times than not. “If we do the right thing, it will come back to us. If we do the wrong thing, it will come back to us, too.” Hopefully, with God’s help and with more years of experiencing behind us, we can make better and better choices, and develop more refined skills.   

Dr. Joyce of  

Copyright 2008

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