07 Apr What I Have Learned About Friendship Over the Years
When I was a kid, I hovered somewhere in the middle of that nebulous space of being just OK.
I knew all of the cool kids in school and they knew me. Some of my friends were athletes and cheerleaders, and we were cordial even though I was never really a part of their cliques. I ran track and joined the glee club, but didn’t advance enough to make the elite singing club my core group. I started out as an average student and succeeded in passing my classes. However, I wasn’t lumped in with the so-called “nerdy kids” who lived in their happy places of protractors and graph paper. I never could embrace the appeal of shuttle pens and flexible pocket protectors. So that group was definitely out for me, too.
Like any normal girl, I went through periods of my life where I wished I was liked by some queen bee or dreamed of being best friends with someone who didn’t find me to be their cup of tea.
And that can happen to any of us over the years. We are left wondering why we didn’t get an invitation to some party or why we were excluded from an event that we so wanted to attend. The art of finding and maintaining friendships can be difficult and exhausting for many of us to navigate.
Now that I am older and more in-tune and accepting of myself, I realize that it’s not the number of friends that I have, but the quality of those friends that matters most.
I have also learned that real friends are few and far in between. A great deal of those who we call friends are actually more like associates.
Associates can come and go throughout the years. While this has nothing to do with the quality of said people, associates are oftentimes those that God allows to move through our lives seasonally. Associates, like friends who we stray from along the way, grace us with their presence to serve a purpose.
Right now, you may be an associate to someone that you feel is a friend. If you don’t know the difference, it can be painful when the season of your friendship ends and one of you decides it’s time to move on. Associates can enter our lives to show us things, teach us things, and journey with us for periods as motivators and encouragers.
Friends are people who truly know you. We create long-lasting bonds with them! The bible says that an honest friend can remain even closer to us than a brother. This powerful bond is exemplified by David and Jonathan in 1st Samuel of the bible. In other words, a friend is with you whether it’s convenient or not.
Friends are consistent in all the areas of your life — not just one! In PR terminology, they will take a position in your best interest even when there are fires to be put out. They will tell you the truth and share their love, even when others will not.
It is so important to have friends in your life and not just associates who may be here today and gone tomorrow. While associates may serve a purpose, they do not have the commitment, consistency, and deep relationships with you that a friend will have. Friends don’t have to look like us or even think like us to be true companions.
Unfortunately, we never really pick our friends. They just kind of gravitate toward us and make it known that no matter what life brings, they will be there for the long haul. You just know when it happens.
I have a long-standing friendship with a woman who I met at a concert. We were both sitting in the same area alongside our husbands and we got up to go to the ladies’ room simultaneously. We almost ran into each other! The best part? She and I were wearing the exact same dress! We laughed and struck up a quick conversation. I told her that anybody wearing my dress has got to be my kind of person. We exchanged numbers and the rest is history.
Once we got to know each other, I realized that she and I could not have been more different. However, there was an instant bond between us that God cultivated over time into an everlasting friendship. She instantly became one of my dearest friends and still is today.
Over the years, my friends and I have moved around, changed careers, and found other interests. Some have faced the difficulties of family drama, divorce, or health concerns. But never alone.
What has not wavered is our love and support for each other. Sometimes we can go long periods of time without speaking. But when we reconnect, the conversation flows as if we never skipped a beat.
Whenever I celebrate milestones or pray about the struggles and vicissitudes that life frequently brings, I call my friends. If they can’t fly out to see me somewhere, they will reach out and spend time discussing victories or hurdles with me. They tell me the truth because they know me like the back of their hand. I don’t always want to hear what they may say in some instances, but I know it is spoken with the best of intentions and with love.
Friends can completely change the atmosphere in a room when they enter it. Friends bolster you and they support you. They give you the space needed to grow and advance, then look back and cheer you on as you soar.
These are the people that we should celebrate, recognize, and give honor to.
Who are your real friends today? Make sure that they know how much their friendship means to you and how greatly you appreciate their place in your life.
Friendship is a gift from God.