The One Where I Wrote About Friends
Recently a few people have asked me to write about friends; making them, keeping them, and everything in between. It almost felt funny that someone would want me to write about friends because lately I’ve felt very isolated and lonely. Not because I don’t have friends but because our family is currently in a season of newness and transition. After graduation most of our close friends moved away, leaving us the last in our college town. With Nate’s current work schedule and a 4 month old, it seems impossible to build new relationships. It’s a challenge enough to keep up with our current friends. This is why I found it funny that people would ask me the “how’s” of friendship; I actually laughed out loud.
However, I decided to write. Here are my brief thoughts on friendships. I hope there is something in my words that encourages your heart in whatever relationship “season” you’re in.
What is a Friend?
I couldn’t start writing this blog without defining for myself what is a friend. I thought about all my friendships; what makes them flourish and what makes them flop. I decided to poll around.
I asked my friends how they would describe a friend:
“Someone you’re acquainted with, who you desire to know and spend time with”
“A person who you can be yourself with and who cares about you and who you care about.”
“Someone you care about, want to spend quality time with, and know personally.”
“Someone you can count on in a time of need. You’ll always know they will be there for you.”
I feel like my meaning of friend is a combination of these.
If you take a minute to flip through your Bible, you’ll find the word, “friend”, scattered throughout. There are a handful of verses that highlight relationships with friends, Jesus’s relation to us as a friend, and friends vs. fools. (Proverbs is a go-to)
If you know me, then you know that I’m not the most outgoing or energetic person. I was never the girl who could make friends with anyone she talked to. I was nice, of course, but making friends took work. Well, making real and lasting friendships took work.
It wasn’t until high school that I really started to see the cliques take true form. I was lucky enough to have two very close friends since elementary school. So, we got to enter high school together and I spent a majority of my time with them. Sometimes I never really felt like I needed more friends than them. But if I wasn’t with them, I was jumping around from friend group to friend group, depending on who I was dating at the time. I had a good amount of “friends”, sure, but only 3 are still friends with me today.
Fast forward to college freshman Alana who was super nervous about having to make friends. It was hard for me to talk to others in my class; it just felt so awkward and I was never that kind of person.
I decided to join a sorority that year and I put so much hope in it to give me lifelong friendships. I remember going through recruitment and being amazed by how many girls I “clicked” with. However, it only took a couple months to realize those “clicks” were for recruitment. It was great to have leadership opportunities, involvement, and new experiences but it was my mistake to put all my hope for friendship in a sorority.
That year I also joined a Christian college ministry and pushed myself to be more “open to friendships”. It took effort, vulnerability, and sacrifice.
I ended up making my best friends in college. A girl a met at Chick-fil-A, for a ministry outing, was the maid of honor in my wedding. Two girls I went to high school with, who I barely knew at the time, became roommates in college and now a co-worker. A girl I met in college….the list could go on and on.
Friendships Aren’t Always Easy
In the midst of usual girl drama a mentor told me, “My best friendships have always been the hardest friendships”. I didn’t understand what she meant then, but now I do.
The hardest friendships are usually the best.
The relationships that have grown me the most have always required vulnerability. Vulnerability is not easy. It’s hard to trust and expose the good and bad parts of yourself to someone else.
These relationships have also needed honesty. I’ve had to learn confrontation (which is still not my favorite). I have never regretted confronting a friend with an issue and I have always appreciated when my friends have been honest and loving enough to confront me. Truth and love go a long way no matter how hard it is.
The Perfect Friend
By “perfect” I truly mean perfect! Jesus is our best example for how to be a friend. He loves, He confronts, He cares, He helps, and He sacrifices. Jesus showed us the best kind of love by dying on the cross. How many of us can honestly say that we would die for one of our friends? Maybe we can say it but when the time came, would we actually put their life above ours?
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth. In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will, so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory. In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.”
On the cross Jesus took the wrath of God for us; for sinners. We weren’t God’s friend, we were His enemy yet He showed us beautiful sacrificial love. How and what can we sacrifice for our friends and even our enemies?
Let us look to Jesus! Perfect Jesus!
“But you, Israel, my servant, Jacob, whom I have chosen, the offspring of Abraham, my friend;”
Community is Crucial
I never knew how much I needed community until I was removed from it. I have found myself in very isolated, lonely, and dark places without community. The times in my life where I didn’t care for vulnerability and I didn’t fight for honesty, I became reckless. When I stopped listening to those close to me it was easier to live in sin. As I stopped pursuing Godly relationships with other women, I felt alone. Take it from me, community is crucial. I had to seek out good Godly community for accountability and encouragement. God provided a way to be in community with other believers, I had to step out and take it. He always provides for His people - this I’ve learned is true.
And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.
God has designed us to be relational. He desires a relationship with His people and He wants His people to have community. From the beginning of time, He makes it clear that we weren’t meant to do this life alone.