Beyond Blue

Beyond Blue

Dare to Be a Real Friend

A friend of mine recently suggested that I ask God to personalize a meditation for me … to pick up either the Bible or some spiritual author and start flipping the pages until I feel my spirit move.

This morning was the first time I tried it. I picked up one of my favorite books, Henri Nouwen’s “The Inner Voice of Love.” I opened the book to one of his reflections called “Be a Real Friend.” It was exactly what I needed.

I’ve been writing/speaking about friendships a lot lately because I’ve really been struggling with some of mine. It’s a result of building boundaries, like I said in my video, and expecting more from some of my friendships than I did in the past. When I feel like I’m being used or exploited in some way, I get out, instead of sitting still for fear of making waves. I still hate waves, of course. I’m still largely a people-pleaser, but I think I respect and love myself a bit more than I did even a year ago, and so that change is reflected in some of my relationships.


Henri Nouwen’s meditation helped me to make sense of these transitions, and assess, once more, what, exactly, I want in a friendship. Maybe his words will do the same for you.

He writes:

Friendship has been a source of great pain for you. You desired it so much that you often lost yourself in the search for a true friend. Many times you became desperate when a friendship you hoped for didn’t materialize, or when a friendship begun with great expectations did not last. 

Many of your friendships grew from your need for affection, affirmation, and emotional support. But now you must seek friends to whom you can relate from your center, from the place where you know that you are deeply loved. Friendship becomes more and more possible when you accept yourself as deeply loved. Then you can be with others in a non-possessive way. Real friends find their inner correspondence where both know the love of God. There spirit speaks to spirit and heart to heart.


True friendships are lasting because true love is eternal. A friendship in which heart speaks to heart is a gift from God, and no gift that comes from God is temporary or occasional. All that comes from God participates in God’s eternal life. Love between people, when given by God, is stronger than death. In this sense, true friendships continue the boundary of death. When you have loved deeply, that love can grow even stronger after the death of the person you love. That is the core message of Jesus.

You have to trust that every true friendship has no end, that a communion of saints exists among all those, living and dead, who have truly loved God and one another. You know from experience how real that is. Those you have loved deeply and who have died live on in you, not just as memories but as real presences.


Dare to love and to be a real friend. The love you give and receive is a reality that will lead you closer and closer to God as well as to those whom God has given you to love.

To read more Beyond Blue, go to, and to get to Group Beyond Blue, a support group at Beliefnet Community, click here.

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  • Heartman

    Wow that was good! I also get nourished when I take a prayer moment for inspiration and open randomly any magazine or book to an exact page. I believe it works because the loving spirit is always trying to get past our doubting minds and love us up. Thank you sincerely, Heartman

  • Your Name

    I must admit I dont read your emails everyday but when one catches my attention I do.
    Your writing spoke true to my heart. I recently had a discussion about friendship with someone that “I thought” was going to be a lifelong friend. This “friend” doesnt believe in lifelong friendships. They believe that you get what you can out of it and move on. I dont look at friendships that way. I have been VERY blessed with friends that I may not talk to for YEARS but when we do its seems like we havent missed a beat. We were sooo close when we were in each others life that its still there.
    It hurts that this friend of mine wants to move on and forget everything we shared together. I will NEVER forget. And someday, if we ever run into each other, my wish will be that it will be like it was. A true heart and soul friendship that no one can take away.

  • SEAshelllady

    Thank you so much for sharing your inner journey to emotional wholeness. Your search is mine–I too am a “people pleaser” and all too often at the expense of my inner peace and well-being. I am working on listening to Divine “whisperings” in my heart and mind and He always loves me–no matter how I look, or what I say or what I do. Manifold blessings to you on this beautiful spring day–where God’s life-giving love is affirmed in all the beauty around me.


    wow wow thank you thank you thank you bless you

  • kimberly sembera

    yes today i can relate, i have a friend in my life which i know she was sent through my higher power, to guide me through my journey today!im a recovering alcoholic and so is she! we meet at my first meeting back. ive been trying to get sober since 1995, for my self but was knowing of it due to my father, who just got 29 years. ill be 38 years old this 4th of may. but anyways i was sober up untill 10 month in to my sobriety ow yes my last drink has been oct. 21st, 2006. mean while i was in a relatioship very sick one knowing know, i meet this man 2 years before i became sober, he has the same problem as me and my friend have, but just doesn’t know it right now. through this last 2 1/2 years i was using another substance.{a drug is a drug} which throw it all my dear angle as i call her stuck through it all the way with me… so im happy to say i have a new sobriety date as of 4-19-09 all by the grace of god. he has sent me a friend to teach me to become one too… prayer works, one day at a time



  • sonya A.

    Your email was obviously a hit for a lot of us, my poem or whether love is temporal or eternal also hit home for me as well, thanks!!!

  • SuzanneWA

    When I was initially going into my first full-blown manic episode (1968), I was staying up late one night (didn’t get much sleep then) and picked up a copy of “Good News for Modern Man,” and opened it. Lo and behold – it spoke to me! The verse was leaping out at me, telling me what I was going through and how to handle it! And this worked, no matter when or why I opened that book! Of course, this led to a dangerous delusion, but while I was “ill,” it got me through many a disaster. I even took it to the psych ward with me! I told one of the other patients – a guy about my age – he tried it, and – well, he went into HIS group meeting and explained the phenomenon to the shrink in there and all the other patients!
    I realize now that it was “demonology,” using God’s word to hinder me instead of help me. When I got out and went to an outpatient doctor, she took my BIBLE away! I was disatraught, and believed she was taking my LIFE! I read the Bible now, not daily, but when I need comforting and self-discipline. There is a LOT of GOOD in the Bible – if you’re not weak and have bipolar disorder!
    Talking about friends. I found my soul mate at jury duty in 2001. She was sitting in one of two chairs available, and I sat next to her. She was 15 years older than me, but we hit it off, and have remained true CHRISTIAN friends ever since. She likes to say, “What I like is – we LAUGH together!” She is a Christian counselor, but she’s my FRIEND. I go to her with hours to LIVE, not spare. We talk about EVERYTHING, and have the same desires and needs for the Lord. She keeps me on an even keel – when I feel myself in need of prayer she’s my Prayer Warrior, and she gets down on her knees, takes my hands, and PRAYS! I KNOW our friendship will weather the test of time, and will continue after the grave.
    Thank you for this blog, Therese, though part of it took me to a dark place. I LOVE how friendship can lift you up, and not every one is going to be a steadfast friend. Be my friend…

  • Faithful

    This was exactly what I needed to read today. Thank you Therese, your Beyond Blue blog always seems to speak to me.

  • s.krishnamurthy

    This was exactly what I needed to read today. Thank you.

  • Your Name

    I don’t know if I really have a comment, More of I need help figuring out how to become a true believer. We have a rough life we can’t pay bills, I can’t work I have alot of health problems. And no inusrance to get help with them. And yesterday I was told by a family member , one of my sisters , that everyone is sick of hearing me talk about our problems and my pains. (makes me wonder how many others feel that way in my family) anyway she hurt me very much. She said when I talk about it , it makes them feel bad cause they can’t help. of course that was after I said don’t worry I won’t bother none of you anymore.
    If you can’t talk to your family . Makes you wonder whats left. You know . I’m at the end of my rope and ready to let go. I Hope you can get back to me via email and help me figure this out. or email me and let me know where exactly to go on your site to find your response to my question. Thank you

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