Are you a fake friend? Here’s what you can change

Kirsten McGehee

We know a lot of people. Some people we really enjoy being around, but others make us want to ditch our grocery carts on aisle 5 and run for the door. Maybe it’s your boss’ ex-wife, or that friend from college. Or maybe, that person who makes you cringe is the same one you call your best friend.

Growing up in church with youth group friends, I perfected the, “Hey! How are you?” exchanges that require little to no real interaction. My response was a standard, “So good.”

So good, because I don’t have to be held to having a real conversation. So good, because I can still be nice without being honest. I could have a million friends and no commitment.

Pretending to care or to be someone else was easier than investing in friendships, which required honesty and authenticity. Surface-level conversations were at the heart of my friendships, and the pretend “best friend” routine left me tired and empty.

When we live in authenticity, we are free to be who we were created to be, and we are free to love people better than before.

We weren’t made for stale, fake friendships. We weren’t created so we could build friendships for the sake of a nice reputation. We were created to be relational and to invest. We were created for real relationships that help us connect with each other, the church, and Jesus.

I was the fake friend. Pride pushed me to want others to think that I had it all together. It took a loving, grace-filled confrontation to help me see that my casual, glassy-eyed “So good” auto response was severing my connection with everyone around me.

3 Reasons Being Real Is Better Than Being A Fake Friend

1. When we’re not vulnerable, we begin to lose sight of grace.

Bound by my need to appear perfect and chained by the desire to have answers and seem happy, I eventually cut ties with my community and my identity in Jesus. When we are constantly trying to rebuild a staged version of us, we lose focus on who we are in Christ. We forget our position as God’s children, and we eventually start to tie ourselves to an identity that doesn’t belong to us. We create a life of good deeds and pretty Instagram pictures, forgetting that it’s grace that saves us (Ephesians 2:8-9). It’s grace that creates and establishes our identity. When we lose sight of grace, we try to earn God’s love and that leaves us hopeless and empty.

2. When we’re not vulnerable, we’re not loving people well.

When we try to live up to other people’s expectations, we’re people-pleasing. People-pleasing is not loving people.

Loving people means wanting the best for them. And as flawed human beings, what we want is often not what we need. So to love others well, we cannot be controlled by their opinions.  We have been entrusted with the Gospel, and we can’t represent Jesus well when we’re scared of letting people down or having our facades exposed (1 Thessalonians 2:4).

When we live in authenticity, we are free to be who we were created to be, and we are free to love people better than before. When we are honest with our friends and families, we have more freedom to love them because we’re no longer wasting our energy pretending.

3. When we’re not vulnerable, it’s hard to have joy in friendships.

Shallow friendships just aren’t fun. The subjects run dry and you can only talk about your day for so long. Friendships without substance are lonely. Proverbs 17:17 says a friend loves at all times and a brother is made for adversity. If we can’t share in real pain with someone, how could we share real joy with them?

Here’s what I know, Jesus was authentic with everyone. In Hebrews 13:8, we’re told Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever. With His disciples, the Pharisees, His family, His enemies, Jesus was the same, authentic in all that He did.

Being honest and real with people, even people you know well, may not seem easy. And sometimes it’s not. Sometimes, I desperately want to default back to, “So good.” But the joy Jesus promised in authenticity fuels a greater want that’s better than empty, fearful conversations.

Authentic friendships help us to follow Jesus better and love people better. Proverbs 27:17 compares these friendships to iron sharpening iron. Good friends who love Jesus will always push us to be the best version of ourselves.

Authenticity changes our relationships, it makes us more like Jesus, and it’s so worth it.

Practice being a real friend in person; find people you want to be around.

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