Sometime in January, this cute Instagram couple started following me.  I immediately followed them back because they were adorable and loved to travel just like us.  For weeks, I liked all their photos and left comments.  They did the same.  Since they were young and in love and seemed to have so much in common with Ironman and me, I assumed that we were going to be friends and stay in touch through social media.  I really did like them.

Last week, however, I realized that I hadn't seen them like any of my posts in a while.  After checking my followers, I saw that they were no longer following me.  I know that this is silly, but it hurt my feelings!  I felt like it had all been fake; that they had followed me just so that I would follow them in return.  Normally this wouldn't bother me (since we aren't really friends anyway), but other things had been going on in the background.  As I have been growing my Instagram following, I have noticed many people following me and then unfollowing me.  At first I didn't realize what was happening and wondered why my numbers were going up and down daily.  Since I use social media to follow and connect with people I enjoy, it bothered me that so many seem to do it to simply gain their own following.

Throughout my life, I have definitely learned a lot about friendship.  True friends are such a blessing and not easily found.  And sadly social media, although seems to help people stay more connected, also seems to be creating more and more fake friendships.  I'm not saying that I want to fight the times and hate on social media.  No.  It's been great to be able to get in touch with childhood friends and connect with new friends who I've grown to love.  But, I don't want to join in on following and unfollowing people to my own advantage.  I want to be a real friend to those I like and want to get to know better.

At some point in the past, someone talked to me about friendships in comparison to a house.  It went something like, you invite people to your home.  Some are just acquittances and don't get past the front porch.  Some are friends and are invited into your living room.  But, your closest friends are the only ones found in the kitchen.  There may be only 2-3 during your entire lifetime.

As I've met and talked to people, I've realized how many people don't have true friendships and it's so sad!  I think part of the problem is time.  We are busy, true.  But, when we have time, we use it for other things.  Another problem that I see is social media.  It connects people, yes.  But, it is also killing relationships...pay attention next time you're out in public and look at how many people are on their cell phone while they are with someone else who they could be talking to instead.  Finally, though, I feel like people don't know what makes a true friend, so they don't know how to be one either.  I'm no expert, but here are the things that matter to me.

1.  Caring.  I'll always remember Jon Acuff saying "care about what the people you care about, care about".  To do this, you'll have to be a good listener.  Listen to what's going well in your friend's life.  Hear what's hard.  Know their likes and dislikes.  Pay attention when they aren't themselves.  Ask them questions.  Pray for your friends.  Be sensitive to your friends needs and wants so that they know you have taken the time to get to know them.

2.  Dependable.  There is a big difference between "I'll do it" and "I'll try".  When someone says "I'll try", I hear it as "I'm not going to put effort, but if it happens then great".  People need someone to depend on.  If you say you'll do something, do it.  If you say you'll be somewhere, be there (on time). If someone is trying to get a hold of you, answer that phone call or respond to that text.  Be available to your friends so that they know you are there for them when they need you.

3.  Trustworthy.  Give good advice.  Keep secrets.  Have your friends back.  People already have enough things to worry about, so don't be one of them.  Stick by your friends side no matter what happens.  Be the type of friend that people feel safe with and sure about.

Although there is a lot more that goes into a friendship, these are the three things that tell me whether someone truly is my friend or not.  I ask myself "does this person care about me?", "can I depend on them" and "can I trust them?".  Some friends may meet 1 or 2 of these, but a true friend must meet all three consistently.  I haven't always been a true friend and I'm sorry for those times, but I think that it has helped me learn and grow into the friend that I am today.  And remember, you can't be all things to everyone...in your lifetime, you'll only have 2-3 friends in your kitchen and that's good!

Think about your friendships now.  Are there people that you need to distance yourself from?  Is there someone you should spend more time with?  Being a true friend to a few is so much better than a crappy friend to many, so choose your friends wisely.  Are you a true friend?

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