Good Friends Make You a Better Person

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Editor’s Note: I’ve decided to use the 40 days of Lent to reflect on the questions from the St. Raphael prayer card. The 12 questions are a small reminder to improve myself every day so that I can build good habits to prepare myself for marriage. Just starting your Lenten plan? It’s not too late. You can read the entire series here

The next question that I would like to tackle in our Lenten Reflection is: Do I look for ways to improve myself?

If you are following along on this Lenten Reflection for Singles then I think you are off to a good start! But maybe you want to do something more directed or more intense? Here is a suggestion from a completely different angle.

I would like to argue, that one of the best ways to improve yourself is to deepen and improve your friendships. Developing healthy and strong friendships will help each of us on this journey to discover what God truly has in store for us. And with good friends we don’t walk alone.

I know you are probably thinking that you have good friendships and you don’t need to develop the relationships; or you have tons of friends and have no interest in making more. But have you ever stopped to think about what really makes for a good friend?

C.S. Lewis in The Four Loves explains, “Friendship arises out of mere Companionship when two or more of the companions discover that they have in common some insight or interest or even taste which the others do not share and which, till that moment, each believed to be his own unique treasure (or burden). The typical expression of opening Friendship would be something like, “What? You too? I thought I was the only one.'”

I love this description of a developing friendship. I can completely relate to this feeling. The first time I experienced this was when I went away to a Catholic college. All during my high school years I felt out of place. I had different experiences, different interests and often felt like an outsider in this small private school. I had many friends in high school, but I often had to put on an act to fit into various cliques. When I was with the sports teams we talked about fitness and basketball shoes. When I was with the theater group we talked about costumes and how tough that alto line was. When I was with the Freshman I would put on my Mama Bear hat to make sure the Juniors weren’t harassing them. But no matter how many groups I hung out with, there wasn’t one place where I felt comfortable or where I could be myself.

That all changed when I went to college. I became instant friends with a great group of young Catholics. I was only at school for a month, but I felt like I knew these friends for a lifetime. And I knew that we would be friends forever. We had common interests, we had similar upbringings, and the same goals. Maybe it was maturity, but the level of friendship I had with my college classmates was something deeper than I had ever experienced before.

C.S. Lewis explains the real bond that occurs in true friendships: “The common quest or vision which unites Friends does not absorb them in such a way that they remain ignorant or oblivious to one another. On the contrary it is the very medium in which their mutual love and knowledge exist.” … You will not find the warrior, the poet, the philosopher or the Christian by staring in his eyes as if he were your mistress: better fight beside him, read with him, argue with him, pray with him.”

As true friends journey together, they discover more about each other in a way that is authentic. They challenge each other to strive to become the person God intended them to be. True friends are humbled to be in the same circle with each other. They see the friendship as a gift and a privilege.

C.S. Lewis explains how friends begin to appreciate the others in a deeper way and how they can help bring out the best in each other. He says, “In a perfect Friendship this Appreciative love is, I think, often so great and so firmly based that each member of the circle feels, in his secret heart, humbled before all the rest. Sometimes he wonders what he is doing there among his betters. He is lucky beyond desert to be in such company. Especially when the whole group is together, each bringing out all that is best, wisest, or funniest in all the others.”

C.S. Lewis explains that there is a big difference between romantic love and friendships. There is no exclusivity between real friends. When the whole group is together they help all the members to be the best version of themselves. “Lovers are normally face to face, absorbed in each other; Friends, side by side, absorbed in some common interest. Above all, Eros [Passionate Love] … is necessarily between two only. But two, far from being the necessary number for Friendship, is not even the best. And the reason for this is important. … True Friendship is the least jealous of loves. Two friends delight to be joined by a third, and three by a fourth, if only the new comer is qualified to become a real friend. They can then say, as the blessed souls say in Dante, ‘Here comes one who will augment our loves.’ For in this love ‘to divide is not to take away.’

As we strive to improve, we don’t do it alone when we have good friends. Our true friends help us on this journey. They are there to support and listen, but they are also not afraid to say the hard thing. Real friends will tell you if you need to have a better relationship with your father, if the guy you are dating is a jerk, or if it is time to find a new job.

Fostering healthy friendships not only helps us to improve personally, but prepares our hearts to be the best spouse we can be. Looking for true love? Start with true friendships.

 



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19 Comments

  1. Regina-911983 March 7, 2015 Reply

    Great article. Your first and best friend is Jesus!

  2. Ken-1159208 March 5, 2015 Reply

    Personally from a bottom line type person I find it more a matter that many people want to be loved but few know how to love. With a healthy love of self where by you are free to put your heart out there for others and allow God to guide many type of good relationships are possible. In the process you discover what your heart truly desire and when the right one comes along you are prepared for them because of your experiences. I am amazed how few people do not know how to love.

  3. Johanna-524319 March 4, 2015 Reply

    please remove me from your emails. thanks

    • Robyn Lee Author
      Robyn Lee March 4, 2015 Reply

      Johanna,
      Thank you for your note. You will see an “unsubscribe” option at the bottom of your email. Let me know if you have trouble. Thank you!

  4. Ellie-1148976 March 3, 2015 Reply

    I ordered the Lenten reflection book for singles from Catholic Match and it is wonderful! Thanks to the team that pulled it together. It is really helpful and insightful!

  5. Maryann-998699 March 3, 2015 Reply

    I haven’t been on a date for seven years. What scares me the most is the sexual tension. I’m very traditional, old-fashioned and I don’t believe in premarital sex. What also scares me is if I find true love, my body is scarred due to breast cancer. I had a mastectomy on my left breast and due to the reconstruction I am scarred on the breast and across my stomach. I am 56 years old,divorced,two children in college. Any comments on how to handle this?

  6. Dave-104327 March 3, 2015 Reply

    It’s simple why I can’t get a date – I’m old. 73 doesn’t cut it 🙂

    • Laurelie-898130 March 4, 2015 Reply

      Dave there are lots of talk shows about us seniors and dating. The basic message is it’s not over till it’s over! I’m 65…73 is not too old for me…maybe you are really just a little scared like the rest of us!

  7. Kris-1103037 March 3, 2015 Reply

    I have not renewed my contract with Catholicmatch.com. Why am I still receiving emails from it. kris

    • Robyn Lee Author
      Robyn Lee March 3, 2015 Reply

      Kris,
      Thank you for your note. You will see an “unsubscribe” option at the bottom of your email. Let me know if you have trouble. Thank you!

  8. MaryBeth-1048637 March 3, 2015 Reply

    Hello I hav been a widow for 10 yrs. I really don’t hav a good support group. Alot of people tell me to get over it and move on. I had a wonderful marriage and that makes it more difficult for me. I’m new to online dating and I must admit is a bit scary for me. I hav my profile but hav not posted a picture yet which I know is important. I’m really tired of being alone and would like to find the right match.

    • Sally-1200630 April 23, 2015 Reply

      Hi Mary Beth, I am also a widow, the second time actually. I was very fortunate to meet and marry two very loving, caring spouses. They both died of illnesses. I am still ready (or at least I think I am) to move on in life. I am finally retired (or semi) and I want a partner to share this with, which is why I wanted to participate in catholic match. I have spent some time reading some of the success stories on this sight, and even though everyone’s situation is different, it is uplifting to read these stories. Even if they are different than my own, i learn something from each one of them, mostly patience and being willing to to be ‘out there’ and make friends, both on the website and in my community. This enriches our lives and keeps us from becoming “hermits” LOL. Do get a picture of yourself, one that you take a little time to prepare for. Put on a flattering top, do your hair up nicely and a little lipstick or gloss is a good idea and ‘smile’! Remember, if you smile while talking to someone, the positive approach that goes along with a smile will come through even if you are not visible. Best wishes to you.

  9. Laurelie-898130 March 3, 2015 Reply

    Friends are absolutely essential when you are single. On some level we are actually better off than our married friends because they normally do not commit as much time to friends so it becomes quite difficult if they lose their life partner in their later years. There is no adjustment for us, we know the drill. Sometimes though we do know that some of those friends are pretty shallow and it is hard to take stock at times and decide it is about time to face the truth and maybe work on expanding the circle…we are only fooling ourselves when we spend too much time with friends that will not be there in the hard times. As my parents used to call them “fair weather friends”.

  10. Roger M. March 3, 2015 Reply

    I have several times asked God to send me one of his lonely angels to be my wife and so far I have gotten no answer to my prayer. I guess I may never meet my future wife. I will continue to pray to God. God Bless.

  11. Lorna-1092233 March 3, 2015 Reply

    When I saw ‘why can’t you get a date’ I thought it was meant to do with this dating site, as so far it has produced no dates and very little interest , which has left me feeling very depressed…

  12. Cody-1089369 March 1, 2015 Reply

    Difficult to make friends that are faithful. I have many friends who are “good” but not Godly. Unfortunately, I feel these friendships are a “one foot in, one foot out” relationship sometimes.

  13. James-1082060 February 27, 2015 Reply

    While I understand what you are saying when you look to deepening friendships as a way to improve yourself, I have to say that the ability to do so is likely a function of personality. For example, I make acquaintances easily, but friends only rarely. This is who I am, and it is obvious to me that others (men and women) are not this way. When friendship occurs for me, it occurs at an unspoken level and it remains for life. I do not have to deepen it because it can not be deepened. I can spend more time with a friend, I can do things for them, or request things from them, but the friendship doesn’t change because of activities or actions.

    What I perhaps hear you saying is that understanding how to correctly choose friends and then implementing it can also end up improving ourselves. Lewis uses “quest or vision” to describe the meeting process, and both of those imply serious, purposeful thought and action. You do speak to this in your closing when you write about fostering healthy friendships and starting with true friendship as help in personal improvement, and this I can relate to.

    I do like the concept of increasing the number of friends I have, especially if they humbly brought out the best, wisest and funniest in me. Even though my experience is that true friends don’t come along because of actions I take, as I move thru lent I’ll try to be conscious of those moving in the same direction and foster friendship where I can.

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