Blog 365 · Owlish Contemplations

Is Your Friendship an Afterthought or a Main Feature?

As children, we tended to be pretty blunt about making friends. We might have even asked someone, “Will you be my friend?” To which the other person [hopefully] would respond with, “Yes!” And then, with your relationship satisfactorily settled, you happily got about the business of playing together.

As adults, we are much more subtle and oftentimes feel silly “making friends.” We think we should already have most of our friends established or feel awkward about becoming someone’s friend if we don’t know them very well.

Yet friendship is not something that should be relegated to just the children’s realm of play and sharing. Friendship is utterly important for the health of our soul – at all ages – and I’ve become more and more aware of its value in the past month. Not only that, but I’ve come to see how vital it is to be conscious about maintaining friendships and nurturing them, for if we don’t, they will fall by the wayside and we will be left floundering through life on our own.

The Value of True Friendship
The past few weekends, I have had very dear friends over for dinner and a movie with dessert. Yes, sharing the meal and our delight in the same tastes of movies [figuratively] and cream puffs and ice cream [literally] were a joy, but even greater joy came from the rich conversation we shared.

When my soul begins to feel lonely or misunderstood, I need the people in my life who know it best and can help me rediscover what I love and Whom I’m living for. I need those sweet friendships to revitalize what is drooping in my spirit, and I need our shared laughter to bring joy back to my life. I need those ones who challenge me to think deeply, who show care for my person, and who simply enjoy spending time with me.

I love how Proverbs 27:9 says,

“Perfume and incense bring joy to the heart, and the pleasantness of one’s friend springs from his earnest counsel.”

Just like sweet smells make our brains light up with delight, the fragrance of a friend who speaks life to us fills our spirits with joy. It’s a fragrance that brings relief from the cares of the world, that gives peace to an overworked mind, and that gives grace for all of life’s mistakes.

God never meant for us to live life on our own. He created us to live life together – sharing our joys and sorrows, laughing and crying together, and giving hope to one another. If we don’t make time for such friendships, our hearts will quickly fall prey to many dangers.

Consciously Nurturing Friendships
Sadly, though, in a fast-paced, calendar-filled 21st-century life, we often neglect to be intentional about keeping our friendships alive. We tend to think that if we keep up with people on social media, we’re doing well at maintaining our friendships, even if we never talk to them in person.

But a “like” or a “comment” on Facebook is no replacement for face to face (or over the phone) conversations with those nearest and dearest to us. The digital age is supposed to keep us more connected than ever before, but I sometimes wonder if it’s driving the true nature of friendship far away.

Quick self-assessment: When was the last time you initiated hanging out with a good friend? When was the last time you asked a friend how you could pray for them – or texted them some encouragement? When was the last time you made time for them – followed through on the ambiguous “let’s hang out” and made plans for real conversation and real enjoyment of life together?

Sometimes we just wait for the other person to act. We get busy with life and forget to text a friend. We forget about promises made to hang out, and we go a week – or maybe a month – before remembering to get back to someone.

Yet there is little that brings me as much joy as the intentionality of someone seeking to spend time with me. I love it when I have a friend who says, “Let’s hang out,” and then we set a date on the calendar and actually make it happen. I love it when a friend pursues our friendship because it’s important to them. I love it when I’m not an afterthought, but a main detail worth prioritizing.

And to be honest? I would much rather have a quiet evening at home with one friend who knows my soul well than an evening out with many people who barely know me at all. Sometimes the latter is necessary, but the former is like sweet manna that gives me energy for life again.

So if you tend to take friendships for granted and respond as they happen to you, perhaps it’s time to re-think this valuable gift that God has given to you. Friendships are beautiful manifestations of God’s character in our lives, and we would do well to give them the attention and care they need. We are meant to shine the love of Christ through them, and when we do, the spirit of another person revives and blossoms like it can through nothing else.

And Don’t Feel Awkward …
And if perhaps you feel the lack of friendships in your life for whatever reason (moving, different season of life, etc.), don’t feel awkward about taking the steps to form new ones. I always maintain that there are plenty of kindred spirits out there just waiting to be discovered, and if we never take that risky first step to initiate a friendship, we will never know the delights in store for us.

Be brave. Start a friendship. Maintain an old one. Keep on boldly loving others even if you feel like you’re always the one initiating. Our souls need deep friendships, so find someone with whom you can share the delights and struggles of life. It will never be regretted.

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