Sobering Lessons on Finding, Building, & Nurturing Faithful Friendships
Friendships have never been my strong suit. For the most part they have ebbed and flowed with the different seasons of my life. I guess you can say that most of my friendships have always been a convenience -- they served me well for that particular season, but when that season was up, so was the friendship. It wasn’t because I was wronged or we had a falling out. It was mostly due to my busy spirit and a lack of awareness and intentionality. I’ve always been an out of sight out of mind type of girl. It’s always been a struggle for me to focus on what I can’t see. Because of that inattentiveness, I’ve never developed a strong friend circle. I’d have a friend over here or over there, but never a strong group of girls that I was connected to -- and I craved that.
Although I wasn’t the most attentive friend, I desired desperately to be, and I envied the women who could commit to that way of relating. That whole #squadgoals and #girlgang aspiration was never the type of friendship that I had, but what I always wanted. You remember that show Girlfriends that aired during the early 00’s? Although I never watched the show, I always imagined that was what ideal friendship should look like. The ultimate relationship where your girls would have your back. That’s not to say that they would never disappoint, but there would be a common thread of honesty, loyalty, and godliness that would hold the friendship together. That was the type of friendship I wanted.
The problem was that throughout the years, the act of striving and proving added a strain to my friendships.
Now no one in particular has ever mentioned that I was a poor or neglectful friend, but looking back on my few withstanding friendships from college, I see the impact of my lack of intentionality. I missed out on some very sweet and rich relationships.
I've learned that friendships aren’t meant to be barely maintained or managed. They are meant to be nurtured and cultivated. There were so many times when I needed encouragement or a shoulder to cry on and I felt like I had no one to call because I was ashamed. Ashamed because I wasn’t giving myself in the way that I wanted to be given too. I had to come to terms that I was a taker and not a giver. With that type of treatment, how was I ever going to build friendships with longevity?
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I had to realize that in order to find and create lasting friendships, I needed to be a better friend. John 15:13 tells us that, “There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends,” and for awhile I could never hold myself to this measure. I was a slave to selfishness, my schedule, and my to-do list. Although I was good at stirring up love and encouraging my friends, I was failing to actually meet together and build those relationships like the Bible urges us to (Hebrews 10:24-24).
Selflessness, loving well, encouraging others, and meeting together are signs of a flourishing friendship.
What do your friendships look like? Are you taking the time to cultivate, tend, and to nourish yours? Are you taking the time to build and lift your friends up? Are you taking time out of your busy schedule to meet and serve them?
In this season, I’m seeing the importance of nurturing my friendships. I am cultivating what matters by intentionally serving others and loving them well now more than ever before. It’s important that we look beyond ourselves and take the time to audit how we’ve been treating our friendships.
Is there an opportunity for you to spend more time with them? How about praying for them? I’m finding that even a simple check-in goes a long way.
If you’re like me and have struggled with maintaining lasting friendships, it’s not too late to become intentional. Don’t beat yourself up for your past actions. It’s okay to give yourself grace in this area. Start by forgiving yourself and then asking forgiveness of others. Then find fun, actionable, and life-giving ways to make your friendships a priority in your life again.