Intimate Friendships Can Cure
By Dr. Richard D. Dobbins
-- 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
Their relationship will have the following characteristics:
- Warm affection
- The ability and willingness to trust each other with intimate details
- Growth stimulation
- Concerned commitment
- Willingness to share time and space
- Both are surrendered to God and each other
- 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"
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
Akron, Ohio. Used with persmission.
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