“Ask a Priest: What If I Prefer Only a Few Friends?”

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Q: I have a doubt that has been hammering my mind and stopping me from taking another step toward self-improvement. What do I need to accept in myself and what do I need to change? How to make this distinction? Example: I don’t like having a lot of friends around me. I have just a few of them, but I know they are true. Is this a trait of personality or a flaw? I also don’t like being overly talkative to strangers, which may seem like I am arrogant. Should I try to change or would that mean I am trying to be who I’m not? Thank you. – G.

Answered by Fr. Edward McIlmail, LC

A: A short answer is that we need to accept the things that will help us draw closer to God, and try to change the things that lead us away from him. In practice, this can require a lot of discernment. A complete answer in an e-mail isn’t possible.

That said, it is good to note that being selective about one’s friends is not necessarily a bad trait.

Even Scripture advises, “Let those who are friendly to you be many, but one in a thousand your confidant. When you gain friends, gain them through testing, and do not be quick to trust them” (Sirach 6:6-7).

Certainly, it helps to cultivate the belief that all of us are sons and daughters of the heavenly Father, and hence we are brothers and sisters. This means that we try to be kind and respectful to the strangers we meet, even if we aren’t overly talkative with them.

Unless your reserve is an intentional form of disrespect for others, you shouldn’t beat yourself up. While some aspects of introversion might be a sign of lack of self-confidence, they might simply reflect your particular temperament.

Since your e-mail gives little of your background, it’s hard to address the issue of self-confidence.

For now, it might help to learn more about your own temperament. Two works that might help are The Temperament God Gave You by Art and Laraine Bennett, and The Four Temperaments by Conrad Hock.

No matter what your temperament, it always helps to foster a spirit of charity. And charity can be practiced as much with deeds as with words.

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  1. The idea of friendship is one I also have puzzled over recently. I listen when others speak, I do ‘good’ for others, in my childhood years, being quiet (some said shy) I was subject to taunts on the playground by a few ‘kids’ (I too was a kid). My mom gave simple advice: IGNORE them. I went to the classroom, did as told (the homework, the reports, studied for tests and quizzes) RESULT: good report cards that made me feel happy and provided self respect. (liked myself) Those who taunted did get bored and stopped taunting when I ignored them. My good report cards didn’t provide a crowd of admirers either, but in high school just because of doing GO(O)D in the classroom, I had 3 ‘friendly’ acquaintances to walk back and forth to high school with for 4 years.

    As the school years morphed to work years . . . all it takes to be ‘liked’ is to COME, DO THE GOOD we get to do by God’s grace, and go home to the parental home shared if single, or to home with spouse if called to marriage, or if single, and must live alone . . . one need not be lonely; if one focuses on using the abilities that one has been given (by God) for others. No need to ‘party hearty’ (some of the most lonely folks are found at ‘happy hours’ )

    This current society ‘ruled’ by do own thing, seek more to BE LOVED than to KNOW LOVE which is GOD.
    To ‘be loved’ aka BE POPULAR. Don’t worry about it. If you have ‘a few friends’ you REALLY can trust, you are blessed. Don’t be influenced as to your worth by what social media says is GOOD. GOOD is to follow the ways of GOD (Christ) who was meek (gentle) and humble. (meaning of humble is content with what God provides, seeking nothing more) Be assured that as long as one is a member of CHRIST’S ONE HOLY APOSTOLIC body of Christ, one has a source for assistance if and when needed… friends here on earth and in the heaven. Rest on that, and just COME, DO, AND GO HOME. (eventually to our Divine eternal home when we will be surrounded by those we encountered on earth and helped and encouraged) Love of ‘the world’ is enmity with God.

    Keep INTEGRITY of self, DO THE GOOD as God directs you, don’t worry about being ‘popular.’ Popularity is not a prerequisite to heaven, as He showed who had only 3 or 4 at the foot of his cross.

  2. My good mom also always advised me that those we do good for today will only ask ‘what are going to do for me today . . . and as long as we do ‘them’ in workplaces or home or neighborhood ‘some good’ they will ‘tolerate’ us. Some can call this friendship, but it is more being FRIENDLY and KIND and that for THE FRIEND WHO DIED TO SELF for us. It’s OK, as long as we keep things in proper perspective. DO NOT SHARE ONE’S OWN SELF with just anyone.

    In society today, many who have little faith in God . . . simply learned ‘how to be POLITE’ with a nice smile. A smile they can SNAP INTO PLACE, big and wide . . . but there’s NO JOY behind it. (J-esus, O-ther centered spirit, Y-ourself who has self respect for knowing good and bad ACTIONS) Those with JOY in the soul, have a smile that is real. They know THE TRUTH OF A DIVINE WORLD ‘here and now’ and for eternity for following GOD WAYS.

  3. I believe the term for just doing the good, not worrying of having friends is a form of ‘DETACHED PIETY’ also called being ‘IN’ the world but NOT OF the world. It is THE WORLD of flesh alone that needs to feel ‘liked’ and to ‘be popular with many’ . . .

    If sincerely Christian of Catholic faith practice. . . as He said, if they hated him… we shouldn’t expect different. Just a few true friends is BLESSING.

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