Essential Friendships

Monday, February 15, 2010

A 10-year study of older people in Australia revealed that satisfying friendships predict long life better than even close family ties. It showed that friendships are good predictors of longevity and can protect against obesity, depression, heart disease, and other health problems. Additional research shows that people who have an extensive network of friends outlive people with the fewest friends by 22 percent. Talking with a friend releases the hormone oxytocin, which has a calming effect on the body and mind. In fact, brief chats with friends or a spouse several days throughout the week can have tremendous health benefits. There are certain types of relationships, outside family relationships, that have the most positive effect on health. Right now, before reading any further, make a list of your closest friends. Go ahead! The reading will still be here when you get through.

Now compare your list to the cherished friendships below to see if your friendship “types” are among those that just might extend your life.

1. A childhood friend – This friend “knew you when” and shares a history with you. Nurture these friendships to help keep you centered on your roots.
2. A new friend – This friend has no preconceived notions about you and can help spark new interests and ways of thinking. He or she can help you network when it’s time to make changes in your life.
3. A workout friend – This friend serves as an accountability partner to keep you focused on your physical health, a strong indicator of longevity.
4. A spiritual friend – This friend supports you in your faith journey and that’s good for your health according to research by Duke University Medical Center. The study found that those were regularly engaged in religious services, prayer, meditation, or Bible study had a 50% lower risk of dying over a 6-year period than those of the same age and health status.
5. A younger friend – This is a friend you can mentor and encourage by sharing what you’ve learned through life. Research shows that nurturing and helping others is an element of a happy, healthy life.
6. Your spouse’s/significant other’s friend – This friend helps create tighter bonds in relationships. Research shows that when a couple intermingles their family and friends, they have happier relationships.

How does your list compare? Are on track for a long and healthy life with your choice of friends?

These friends may help our physical health, but which friend will truly help our spiritual health? Jesus is the friend that sticks closer than a brother. Jesus is the friend who bears all our sins and burdens. No other friend is so faithful.

In John 15:12-16 Jesus tells his disciples five characteristics of his friendship.
1. Love – He loves us.
2. Expectations – He expects us to obey him.
3. Chosen – He chose us.
4. Fruit – He wants us to bear long lasting fruit.
5. Prayers – He will give us what we ask in accordance with his will.

12My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. 13Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. 14You are my friends if you do what I command. 15I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master's business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. 16You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit—fruit that will last. Then the Father will give you whatever you ask in my name. John 15:12-16

For longevity in our spiritual health, let’s follow our true BFF (in case you’re not tuned in to Best Friend Forever)! He is our essential friend.

Enjoy singing the favorite old hymn “What a Friend We Have in Jesus” Karaoke style by clicking here -


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