Do you have many friends? Or are they merely acquaintances?

An acquaintance is someone you laugh with; a friend is someone you’ve cried with.

Another way to decide if someone is a true friend is the 2 am test. If you have car trouble at 2 o’clock in the morning, who could you call that wouldn’t think twice about getting out of bed to help you? That’s your friend. (You might make a list, just in case.)

My husband had one such friend.

We were driving home late one night after long-winded committee meetings at church. In an area with a 40 mph speed limit, a car from the opposite direction turned left in front of us. There was no way Bryan could avoid a collision. Although we weren’t hurt, our car was undrivable.

“What do we do now?” I asked. “How will we get home?

“Call Ken.”

“But it’s late, and he probably won’t want to get out of bed just for us.”

Little did I know, Bryan was certain Ken would come. He was there in less than ten minutes. And he lived more than ten minutes from where we were! He didn’t question the request; he just knew that his friend needed him.

I’ve had other friends who’ve gone out of their way for me. And have, often.

So how do we cultivate friends?

Be a friend. It’s that simple. You want more details? Here goes:

  • Find people who share your interests. Think of ways to share those interests.
  • Don’t “buy” friends. If they only hang around because you spend money on them, they’re definitely not friends.
  • Ask questions. People love to talk about themselves.
  • Get to know them so you can ask intelligent questions about their families or hobbies.
  • Pay attention to their needs, whether they tell you specifically or not.
  • Try something new. You may make new friends through that.

Are you old enough to remember that famous quote included in John F. Kennedy’s inaugural speech: “Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country.”

The same can be used for relationships: “Ask not what your friend can do for you; ask what you can do for your friend.”

How can you help a friend today? Even at 2 o’clock in the morning. What’s stopping you?