We live in this weird time where everything is online to be seen, misinterpreted, exaggerated and envied. If someone posts a picture of her latest culinary creation, night out with friends or time alone at the coffee shop, our first thought is to compare her life to our own.

Even a person’s friendships are out there for our scrutiny.

We analyze how many friends someone has, how often they get together and whether they do or don’t include their children. The fact is that there is not a magic number of friends a person needs.

Iron Sharpens Iron

There are, however, some key characteristics needed in friendship.

Scripture tells us that iron sharpens iron (see Proverbs 27:17). We need to surround ourselves with people that encourage us, challenge us and make us better. There are five types of friends that can enrich our lives. These can be found in multiple people or just a couple. If you find all of them in one individual, hold on to her. She is more precious than gold.

1. The Grace Giver

There is no way around it. We’re going to mess up in big, embarrassing ways. We’re going to speak out of turn. We’re going to stand someone up. We’re going to hurt someone’s feelings. Everyone needs a friend that is generous with grace. There has to be a friend who has nothing but love.

2. The Truth Teller

This is the friend that you don’t always appreciate at the time but is so needed. This is that person who will tell you when your attitude is out of whack or your priorities are out of line. It isn’t always pretty, but it’s precious. Flattery may feel good, but a truth-teller can be trusted. This is the woman who will tell you when your hair is too big, your jeans are too tight or your contribution to Wednesday night supper was less than stellar.

3. The Couch Counselor

Lots of people will open their hearts to you. They will listen intently and pray faithfully. It takes a special person, however, that opens her home to you. When a woman is willing to move the laundry and make some coffee, real relationships are formed. Honesty abounds with kid’s television programing in the background.

4. The Burden Bearer

When writing to “the saints in Christ Jesus who are at Philippi” (Philippians 1:1), Paul’s desire was that they would be striving side-by-side and not frightened in anything (see Philippians 1:27-28). If there was some striving and some opportunities to be frightened of, it’s safe to say that there were some trials and painful experiences going on in their lives. We all need a friend that will walk side-by-side with us through our trials. We need that person who will bake a casserole, babysit or just be there to listen.

5. The Secret Sharer

Oh, this is a good one, y’all. There must be someone in your life that is a safe place for your secrets. This is the woman who knows that your cakes are from a box, you hid in the bathroom during your junior prom and that you love reality television on Tuesday nights. There is no judgment in this relationship. This person knows what you like on your pizza and never blinks twice when you go back for thirds at the local buffet.

Friendship is such a tricky thing.

I think back to my mom sitting on the front porch snapping fresh green beans with the neighbor and wonder when it all got so complicated. When did friendship become a competition? Who cares if someone else is having dinner and taking in a movie with her girlfriends while your crew is holding juice boxes, watching the kids on the playground?

Friendship doesn’t always look like it does on the sitcoms, but that doesn’t make it any less of a friendship. If it works for you, I say, “Pass the coffee and carry on.”

Article courtesy of HomeLife magazine.

Continue Reading: How to Know When to Call It Quits in a Relationship

Stacy Edwards is a trucker’s daughter and a pastor’s wife. She is a writer, speaker and homeschooling mom to five fabulous little girls. Stacy blogs and has written a book called, Devotions From the Front Porch.