"A friend loves at all times." Proverbs 17:17 (NIV)
The final key to connecting: Be committed to the relationship.
It takes a lot of time to build a deep connection with somebody. And it requires commitment.
I could not count the number of times that either Kay or I have felt like walking out of our marriage, particularly in the early years. But we didn't. Why? Because we'd made a commitment to God. I am so glad that we did not give up. Today, my wife is my best friend and I cannot imagine my life without her.
Some of you may be in a relationship right now that is hanging on by less than a thread. Some of you are already in the stage of physical separation. Do not give up. We have a miracle-working God. The same God that raises the dead can raise a dead relationship if you're willing to be changed.
But it takes a commitment.
The Bible says this in Proverbs 17:17: "A friend loves at all times." That means even when it's inconvenient, when you don't feel like it, even when the other person doesn't deserve it, even at personal cost. That's what real friendship is all about.
The Bible says in Proverbs 18:24 (NIV), "A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother." What does "a man of many companions may come to ruin" mean? Mere socializing can keep you from having deep relationships. You can be so busy making acquaintances that you never spend the time, energy and effort it takes to cultivate the deep, satisfying intimacy of a good friendship.
You don't need a lot of friends to make it in this world but you do need a few good ones. One good friendship is better than ten thousand acquaintances. The acquaintances aren't going to be there in the crisis. Friends will. And every important close connection begins with a commitment.
Who are you committed to? And who knows it? Have you gone to someone besides your spouse and said, "I just want you to know that I will always be there for you"? Have you ever established that kind of intentional commitment and said, "I want to grow close to you as a friend"?
Here's the bottom line: You need people in your life who will be courageous, considerate, constructive, candid, confidential and committed. But there is only one way you're going to get people like this in your life: You have to be that kind of friend first.