One of my wise friends, and sisters in Christ, recently made the comment that people too readily use the term “friend” to define their relationship with others. In a culture filled with Facebook friends and Instagram followers, her insight encouraged me to take a moment to stop, reflect, and redefine my connection with others. Who are my friends really?
Let’s take work for example – I have coworkers that I regularly call friends. We have the same faith, similar values, lots of crazy shared experiences, and spend time together outside of work. I have cried in front of them, laughed with them, traveled with them, prayed with them, and been encouraged by them. Do they meet my friendship criteria? I would argue that yes, they are true friends, and recognize that I am very fortunate to be able to experience this type of work environment daily.
In terms of my church community, I have been blessed to have female friends who are in the same, or similar, life stage as I am. We share prayer requests and praises, and I enjoy spending time with them weekly. These women celebrate each other’s milestones, accept one another’s differences, seek to love unconditionally, and share their life experiences with one another. These are the friends that I hope to have by my side as we travel from one life stage to another.
Then, there are my friends from years past. My high school friends who were there for me in my darkest of days. Young men and women who became my family during a season of grief and sadness. They attended my father’s funeral, brought me countless meals, prayed with me, distracted me, and built me up. They exemplified the truth found in Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 “Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up.” After high school we attended different colleges and grew apart. Since my family no longer lives in the town that I grew up in, I do not visit very often. I am also terrible about calling people on the phone to catch up, so I do not speak to them frequently. Unfortunately, I use social media to attempt to maintain our relationships and try to get together with them at least once a year. Regardless, when we do have the opportunity to get together we pick up right where we left off. So many shared memories and a common history forms bonds that are not easily broken. Do you have friends like this?
I have many friends who do not fall into the categories listed above. People who I have met through mutual friends, classes, and organizations, have touched my life and inspired me in countless ways. Our friendship has reached various depths and cannot be discounted. It is difficult to ascertain how each person in my life has contributed to who I am today.
As a middle school counselor, I can attest that some friendships take place for a season. I have students who are friends with each other one day and posting rude comments on social media about one another the next day. Although their immature view of friendship can be humorous, it is not uncommon for adults to build relationships with people based solely on a shared experience or interest for a short period of time. I assert that these relationships can still constitute as friendships, even if they are temporary. In my opinion, there is no minimum length of time that is required for us to be acquainted before I call you a friend.
The Bible is clear that community is a key to healthy living and friends help us “spur one another on toward love and good deeds” (Hebrews 10:24). It is safe to say that friends are important – we need each other.
Tell me about your friends:
Share this post with one of your friends today and let them know that it made you think of them!