Your Bro’s, Your Girls, Your Tribe, Your Squad – No matter what you call it, you need a deeper kind of friendship.
You and I are wired for connection. Friendship is a special kind of relationship that builds intimacy and brings fun while giving us some footing in this world.
Rebecca Baker joins Josh and Kit on the podcast today to unwrap the gift of friendship. You’ll hear how true friends don’t just happen. Intentionality and vulnerability and risk are worth the gain.
We hope this conversation blesses you, encouraging you to ask good questions, share your stories, listen & laugh well, standing shoulder to shoulder with the friend God has for you.
In a deeper kind of friendship, you are inviting someone into your life to take a different kind of role in your life-giving them a place where they can speak into your life, they can hold you accountable, they can get to know you in a deeper way which is beautiful and scary.
We trust that a friend will tell us the truth about what they see, because they care about us, not because they want to wound us.
Friends have a unique way of loving us and supporting us and challenging us and calling us to better versions of ourselves in a way that’s unique from other types of relationships
Praying for Friendship: Bring your need for deeper connections to God, ask Him for good friends and then pay attention to who else is on the journey alongside you.
C.S. Lewis “The Four Loves” – “To the Ancients, Friendship seemed the happiest and most fully human of all loves; the crown of life and the school of virtue. The modern world, in comparison, ignores it.”
Proverbs 27:17 “Iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.”
Proverbs 27:6 “Wounds from a sincere friend are better than many kisses from an enemy.”
Plato “Be kind for everyone you meet is fighting a harder battle.”
Click for Full Podcast Transcription
So I want to begin today’s podcast with a question. At Regeneration, we walk with people who are dealing with a variety of things, married people who want their marriages, better singles, who are wrestling with loneliness, people struggling with pornography addictions or other unwanted sexual behaviors, those dealing with same-sex attractions, people have experienced sexual abuse in their past, and they’re trying to figure out how to do relationships and move in intimacy today, etc, etc, etc. And the question I have to start with is, what do all these people have in common as far as where the solution where resolution where integration, lies, each of them has something at least one thing in common. And I want to propose to you, and we want to talk today about this thing called friendship, friendship is necessary for each of those groups, actually, for all of us. And it’s something that, that goes deeper than you might think. So joining me today Kit Elmer, from our team, and Rebecca Baker, who Rebecca has been on a podcast before but this time, she joins us as a member of our staff. We’re excited to have her with us. So kit Rebecca, welcome, Rebecca. Thank you.
So where do we start?
Well, you know, Rebecca, and I’ve talked a fair amount about friendship, and it’s important to both of us, but she really has a passion for friendship. And I would just love to ask her. So Rebecca, what do you think of when you think of friendship?
Hmm. I love that there can be so much diversity in friendship. You know, when I think of friendship, you might think of a friend that you had as a child or somebody you have a shared interest with or hang out with. And sometimes these friends can be people in your life for a season for a certain amount of time, and they come and go, some of these carry through many different seasons in life. And, and all of those are good, all of those have a place. And when we think about perhaps that deeper kind of friendship, or even what some people call spiritual friendship, that that takes on a different, different quality, not just someone to spend time with or to have camaraderie with, but there’s, but there’s a deeper intimacy that happens there.
And all of those are important, aren’t they? You know, I mean, the spiritual friendship, of course, is a very special gift. But I really appreciate starting this out by saying friendships come in many sizes and shapes. Because I think otherwise, we I know, I can be a little bit hard on expectations of friendship. And I’ve had to learn about that through the years. And some friendships are going to be a little lighter, a little shorter, you know, or you’re going to see each other once a year or so just to be open to friendship, can be a part of our life in many different ways. I think that’s important. When he’s like, comes to mind for me, I want to, I know for me that, that when I was in school, I mean, elementary school, middle school, high school, college, there was this format, this, this forum, where friendships would develop more organically just more easily, you’re in class. You know, when you’re really young kid, you’re in class. And your teacher says he refers to your classmates as your friends and they do become friends. And you get older, and some of those people really become true friends, and etc, etc. And you’re all kind of on mission together. We’re here to learn, or we’re here not to learn, depending on your approach to school, you’re here to get a degree. If you’re a Christian, you may be on campus and you’re you join, you know, the Christian community on campus, and you’re here to grow closer to Christ, you’re an Angel Eyes, whatever it is. So there’s this closeness we live in, if you live on campus, in college, you’re even living in dormitories with people who are the same age, same life experience in some ways. And then you graduate. And all of a sudden, friendships are very, very different. There’s not this natural kind of day by day where you’re necessary with people who are the same age or in the same season of life. There may be and then and then you have kids, if you get married, have kids, and you have kids, and then all of a sudden, like the time for friendships changes and so anyway, seasons of friendship, challenges, friendship. But I want to say from the outset that I’ve never met anybody who, especially as they get further and further into adulthood don’t experience some significant disappointments, longings for friendships that go unmet, at least seasonally going, Matt. And so they get hard. So, as you talk about spiritual friendship, we’re back, I want to dive in a little bit more there because I feel a longing for that. So talk a little bit more about that concept of spiritual friendship and how is that different from, you know, guys that I might get together with for playing cards or, or whatever else? So
we do I think you’re absolutely right, we have, we have, we all have this desire to connect, I think it’s what makes us human. But with friendship, in particular, I think, I think a lot of us do have a deep desire to, to go deeper with friends, but not always. We don’t always talk about it, or we don’t always share that, that that’s something that we really want. It’s almost joked about sometimes I think, when I was looking back at some ancient authors talking about friendship, one of the things that I was struck with was, one, how openly and freely, they talked about their deep connection in their friendships, and that there was like freedom in how much they talked about it. And the second thing I noticed was the high regard that they placed friendship in, in their life, to the point that I think Cicero was one that said, to almost elevate friendship above most other concerns, I put it in that high of a regard. CS Lewis called it the crown of life, friendship was the crown of life and the school of virtue. And it was refreshing for me to read that too, to hear them talk so openly about it, but also I felt a stirring even in my own heart, and I have really, I think I have really great friends but that they put that in such high regard. And, and you’re right, Joshua, it can really easily get squeezed out because we have these other really important relationships, whether it be marriage or family or work or other things.
And Rebecca didn’t, didn’t see us loose even right that didn’t he even elevates that friendship, friendship as a having potential for a greater self-giving love than marriage did. Because there’s not with marriage. I might be getting this wrong, but I seem to recall, he said, you know, with marriage, you create this covenant, and there’s almost this there’s a give and take that’s kind of woven into the roles that that husband and wife would play. But with friendship, it’s all voluntary, you show up it’s you didn’t agree in front of people, you didn’t make a vow, like you, you show up? It’s because you want to so there’s an even greater
the potential reality in friendship, to grow that, that kind of self-giving love the experience of love is that that’s Lewis, isn’t it?
Yeah, it really gives a picture of Christ like love that it’s very freely given that in friendship, you love the other person, you want good things for them. You want to bring good things into their life. But there’s, the expectation of return isn’t quite the same. This allows for some really beautiful, like you’re saying self-giving love, that I think Christ shows us too.
I think it will see us those who also said, You know, sometimes when we’re in love when, you know, we’re in a romantic relationship, we’re looking into each other’s eyes, you know, face to face, but it’s friendships, we are looking out, standing shoulder to shoulder looking out at the world. And so that frees up a whole different kind of relating, doesn’t it?
Yes. And, and that we can bond over that? Mm-hmm. Yeah, as we’re standing shoulder to shoulder looking at Christ, journeying towards Christ, that we bond with our friends over that.
And that, that we couldn’t have that in a romantic relationship. But I just remember he sort of set that apart. And it makes me think about shared purpose. And again, not that you couldn’t have that in a romantic relationship. But there’s something about friendship that can be in all of these different shapes and sizes and forms and there’s this potential for a shared purpose and to help each other in life because it’s so hard, you know, so what are the things happen in these deeper You know, maybe spiritual friendships, what kinds of things happen?
I think it might be, we might say it so often like the iron sharpens iron, quote, that it kind of loses its meaning but in a deeper kind of friendship, you are inviting someone into your life to take a different kind of role in your life and giving them a place where they can speak into your life, they can hold you accountable, they can get to know you in a deeper way, which is beautiful and scary when you are deepening your trust with them, but that involves vulnerability and, and giving them a place where they can keep you accountable. And, and by doing that, you open up some things to what do you guys think, by allowing someone into that kind of space in your life? What does that open up?
Yeah, I think I mean, I love that phrase, like opening yourself, your life up to another person. I think when we do that, we lose weight. First of all, we do create our we create a level of vulnerability with another person, who we’re not the only kind of showing up, and showing them what we want them to see, we don’t just steer the conversation to those topics we’re comfortable with, we actually open ourselves that they might see aspects of who we are, and elements of our character that we really do not necessarily like, or that we think we know, are not yet formed, or we don’t know. But when they see it, they put a finger on it and say, you know, that whenever I talk about X, Y, or Z, you change the topic, you, you know that you’ve been talking about yourself for the last 10 minutes, and you haven’t asked me anything about me, right? Like, and, and that, that puts us in a place to I mean, they, they hold up a mirror, to things that they see. And that gives us the opportunity either to retreat from those friendships, too, to curl up into a ball and just feel ashamed and try them too, you know, redouble our efforts to look better in front of that friend or to allow them to say, till to respond to a heart that says, You are right, what you’re seeing is really where I am and I am available to, to what you’re saying because I want to grow in Christ-likeness, and I want to grow to be a better, a better friend to you and to others. That’s fine for me. When you guys are talking it makes me think about like, those kinds of friendships can actually encourage, or hone help form or bring forth our true self.
Yes, I thought the same thing get a friend who, who I’ve known for a long time and long enough that she knows me well and how she reminds me of who I really am, which is May of who I am in Christ. And that’s hard to hear. Sometimes it is but I’m so grateful for it too. Because she knows when I’m not being my best self and can with some gentleness but also consistency. Call me into living more into my life in Christ.
Yeah, some of my very favorite friendships are those that I know they love me so much. I have no doubt that they love me so much. That when they speak into my life, and they say hard or challenging or truthful things, I’m so grateful. Because I’m like, I know I trust you that you know me you love me and you want the best for me. That’s a gift and it’s not it’s unique and rare and hard sometimes but I am grateful for it even if not right in the moment. I’m always grateful later.
Yeah, what’s what’s the proverb, the Blessed are the wounds from a friend or you know, glorious of the wounds from a friend there’s because we trust that the friend will tell us the truth that what they see, because they care about us not because they want to wound us or because they want to set themselves up over us but because they and this, this goes back to the true self thing because they actually see something and trust there’s a truth about who we really are. That’s better than what we’ve lived up to so far. And so there’s a constant kind of trajectory and this is that shoulder to shoulder but our aim is to become more fully who God designed us to be to become more fully the men and the women that we are in that we in truth are that Christ has come to redeem and that we are working towards. And the hard part is we all know like we’re describing this right and or we’re all having this longing like of course, I want that. I wish I had that. And then you know that’s the challenges. There are many of us who are longing for deeper friendships more of this kind of intimacy. And some of us are, have been brokenhearted. And so have some caution. And so if we know we want it, like, and but it’s maybe, you know, it’s not just on every corner, how do we find it? There’s the million-dollar question because I if people have tracked this conversation at all, if they felt any desire or gratitude or whatever, in their own hearts, like that question, how do we, how do we find it? How do we maintain it? Is that’s where the challenge is? Because friendship in our culture, and I and I, I, I assume it’s true about women, it is certainly true among men, friendship is severely opposed in the world we’re living in, in at least in the West, and that some studies have shown that the older men in the West get, the fewer friendships they have, the lonelier they report that they are. If that’s the norm, then then we’re in trouble. So yeah, so I’m the man on the podcast. So you guys tell me how do we find?
Well, taking this, this image, that we have a friend standing side by side looking towards Christ journeying towards Christ, one thing I would say is, in, in that take that desire that you have for friendship, bring it before Christ and, and direct yourself towards him. And as you’re doing that, look around and see who else is on that journey, also, that you might want to want to be closer with. If you just look for friendships, in themselves, they might fall flat. But if you’re looking for other people on the journey towards Christ with you, that’s, that’s a kind of friend you can, you can have a deeper connection with. And then we’re talking about these friendships. But they don’t just happen. I mean, occasionally, we might be lucky enough to just kind of fall into a deeper friendship, but they take some intentionality which, which involves taking some risk do so you know, it’s, it’s pretty accepted to talk about your relationship in a marriage or talk about your relationship in a family relationship. But we can do that in our friendships, too. Especially if we’re looking to have a deeper friendship with someone. It may require talking with them, and inviting them in saying, I want you to take this more of this kind of a role of accountability in my life, or some deeper trust. And that’s a little scary sometimes. Yeah,
absolutely. And I think it is unique. It’s different for men and women. Josh, I think that’s right, I think it is easier for women to take that risk, to, you know, feel safe enough to do that. They might even find more opportunities because I think that one of the reasons One of the things is like Rebecca, you said it might just happen, but usually, there’s something more than it just falling in your lap. But there is something to paying attention to. You know, like so you ask God about a friendship and then you pay attention, you know, who are you who’s in your path? What’s going on. But women might be a little bit more likely to have that happen in their life, or they might be more willing to ask for it. I don’t know, Josh, what do you think about that? No, I love it. I mean, I’m thinking of a couple of friends, we’re talking I’m thinking about one, one of my friends who he is a creator of, of, of events. I mean, he creates opportunities for people to come together. It’s a, it’s an I see him do repeatedly.
He’s the one who says, Hey, you know, we’re going to do a weekend whitewater rafting trip, or we’re going to go hike this leg of the Appalachian Trail or I’m going to have a worship night over at my house. I mean, that’s just kind of, he creates events like that because he loves to draw people together. And oftentimes he’ll include in that, some intentional questions to ask people to go more deeply, and where he’ll model being vulnerable and talking about something in his life. And that’s been a huge blessing. I think about another friend who’s a newer friend, but who, who was very clear with me, at one point just about his desire to we were a little bit on the same track in a direction for a while and that’s that split off. And when it split off, he said, Hey, I just want to be clear, as we’re going in different directions. I would like to continue a friendship with you. Can we be intentional about that? And that’s been so much a sweet, sweet gift for me. I think that kind of vulnerability among men is probably more rare, just where you have a man saying, you know, I will up to Christ with me, I like what I’m seeing. I like that. I feel like we have got we’ve got chemistry, however, that’s put, you know, so. But I think I think one of the traps that men fall into and maybe that’s true for women too is we have events or we have get-togethers and we avoid going to some of the places that are more vulnerable. Like they’re, you know, we keep some doors locked, we show up, I think there’s a level of competition that can continue to reside, even as friends get together, we kind of compare stories. There are safe topics to talk about, we’ll talk about work, we will talk about what’s happening with our kids if we’re married. My talk about an adventure we were on. But when it comes to what’s happening in your heart, what’s the state of your soul? When How is your relationship with Jesus going? When is the last time you heard his voice speaking specifically to you? What are you desiring these days? Those are harder questions. I think that. But I think even the example of those questions that I just shared, I think can be can open some significant doors for men, if they’re willing. And then watch what unfolds?
Yeah, I think those are, those are great questions. And I’ve even been challenged in this season with COVID. To think of and take some more intentionality with what questions I’m asking my friends, as it is really easy to fall back on, Hey, how’s it going? What are you up to? Got any big plans? You know, but, but nowadays, the answer to those questions are not as exciting for a lot of people. So asking some deeper questions to go a little bit deeper. But it’s, it takes some thought to think of those and it takes some courage to ask them.
And it’s it is kind of want, I want to be kind of a nimble friend, in that I want. I love deep conversation. And I also love laughing hard. And I think it’s a gift to be able to feel the freedom to do both in a situation with a friendship. And to be able to have that opportunity to share something that’s deep and vulnerable and hard, and maybe even controversial, you know, you might share something that you think these, these friends may not agree with me. That can be very, very difficult. But I think when we learn to honor the differences in each other, and still care about each other, that can be so powerful.
So I have two questions as we wrap up. But I think one of these we haven’t said that we have to name is one of the things that friendships do for us is they put us in relationship with people. It’s one thing relationships do for us, but who are different than we are. I’ve talked to so many people who are looking for a best friend. And I think a lot of what they mean by that is somebody who’s just like me, and I know that some people have best friends, I would say I have some best friends as a category. But even those men are very different than I am. And one of the real challenges for me in friendship has been to learn to, to hear their language of love in some ways and, and to accept them as they are not I don’t mean stunted in their growth, but that they are different than me and, and to learn to value I need them I need their differences. And so I work for a ministry that talks about sex and intimacy and wounds while I have a lot of friends who are not their default places to talk about. But that does not mean they don’t have something that I need. And that and that’s my role, that’s my job in the friendship is to go to the some of those places and to invite them their job is something different. And, and there’s beauty in that. And there’s also a real tension and real difficulty in that sometimes in friendship. So, but here’s my question. I started the podcast by saying, you know, out of all this spectrum of these people that we walk with here at the region, all of them need friendship. And so just some closing thoughts. I said I was asked to close the last one, just in closing thoughts from each of you. Why Why do they need friendship? So for those who wrestle with pornography, or who are going through a divorce are experiencing infidelity or are experiencing loneliness and as a single? What why friendship? What role does that play? Is it sad Is it a healing agent? Is it just accountability? Is that a kick in the butt? Like, why do they need friendship? You know, I think if there’s a huge, huge gift, you know, life is hard and All these different struggles that you mentioned, you know, we each are, we each are living, what is it? Plato said, everyone, ‘s fighting a battle because everyone you meet because everyone’s in a battle.
And so to be able to have someone accept you and receive your vulnerability, your fear point you in a very meaningful way to God and to hope and to be with you in the trenches like those things, those are, those are the things we’re made for, I think that God really delights in when we do that for one another.
I think friends have a unique way of loving us and supporting us and challenging us and calling us to better versions of ourselves in a way that’s unique from other types of relationships, family, or marriage, or others. So having friends that can call out those parts of you, by challenging you, or by their support, by their love for you is we need those companions along the journey, whether it’s to get us through the hard times or to pull us towards Christ and the good things that he has for us.
And I think we also need to say before we end that the beauty of friendship is absolutely true. And the pain of friendship is very real, too. And any of us who have lived very long and have had friends will have, they will disappoint us or we will disappoint them. And there’s even betrayal, and there’s even relationships and friendships that, that change that end. And yeah, and so I think that’s just important to say, you know, if, if you’re listening to this, and you’re thinking why I’ve tried that, and it’s too painful, we under I hear you and I have experienced that. And so the encouragement is, you know, let’s, let’s, you know, really kind of encourage each other to in the right time and in the right place with God’s help continue to reach out. And so if you, if you’re, if that’s a struggle for you, and you want to talk it through, you’re going through some hard things and you’re wondering about all kinds of things, including friendship, you know, we’d love to talk with you about that.
So good. Thank you both for your thoughtfulness about this. And let me pray to for those listening as we close. Father, you are the author of relationship because you are as Father, Son, Holy Spirit, you are constantly in a relationship you are the definition of relationship and you’ve created a senior image. Got it. So I was praying even before we started recording you made us Lord is evident that we are made for friendship. We have eyes to see ears to hear and listen, mouths to speak, skin Lord that can touch and longs to be touched. So I pray for each person listening to Lord and for their friendships. You bring blessing, Lord, help us to not be afraid of the hard terrain that can come in friendship, the ups and downs, the long dry spells and Lord help us not to be afraid and not to pull back from the lavish times the joys of friendship. Right, let us follow that path of friendship until it leads to you where you are the union that we have with you. When your kingdom comes, we pray all these things now the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen.
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Original music by Shannon Smith. Audio engineering by Gabriel @ DelMar Sound Recording.
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