4 Things I Learned About Friendship
I went through a season of my life where I felt like I had no friends. Up till that point, throughout different times in my life, I had a go-to set of friends that I could call up and do something spontaneous with. I had these relationships while growing up, in college, and even in my post-college single days. Years after transitioning to a stay-at-home mom and moving to the burbs, I looked around and realized I no longer had a “crew.”
The playgroup I was in disbanded as our kids aged and became busy with school. Soon play dates became drop-offs and I found myself feeling lonely. I knew plenty of people in town and could chat away with them on the playground, but longed for deeper connections.
I looked at other people talking and laughing together and assumed they must all be best friends. Surely they were getting together without me.
Doesn’t anybody want to get together with me?
Was it something I said?
Do people just not like me?
What am I missing?
I wanted someone, anyone to be my friend.
After reading a few good books and listening to a podcast on the topic, I learned a few things about friendship.
Here are the four things you need to know about friendship:
Friendship for the sake of friendship does not last.
As a child, I had built-in friendships. My best friends were the kids on my block. Then when I went to a private school in 7th and 8th grade, the girls I saw every day were my BFFs. In high school, I’d still hang with my neighborhood girls, but I played sports and palled around with those gals too. College roommates filled the void once I left home. Fast forward a few years and my co-workers became my “go-tos” for going out with to “blow off steam” and share life updates. All of these relationships were easy to start and maintain due to proximity, but very few lasted once I didn’t see them anymore. Friendship cannot be merely about itself; it must be about something else.
A common goal, mission, or passion are needed for friendships to thrive.
When I look back over the most rewarding friendships of my life, I recognize that at their core was a common goal, mission, or passion. Mutual interests need not be lofty. They can be as simple as being at the same stage in life, loving the same genre of books, or helping out at the same charity. I recently worked on my daughter’s yearbook with another mom. Even though we were already friends, it wasn’t until we started getting together regularly to work on the project that our friendship deepened. Having a desire to get together more frequently, we’ve decided to host a book-to-movie club together.
A common interest can make the most unlikely people become friends.
A few months back, my husband and I were a part of a quiz team that competed in a charity event raising funds for our children’s school. At the time, we were only acquainted with each other, but now the team members take turns opening up our homes to one another to host a game night. Frankly, if you asked me a year ago to pick a group of friends to get together with regularly, these wouldn’t be the people I would have chosen. Not because I didn’t like them or didn’t think I’d enjoy their company, but because we seemingly don’t have much else in common. Turns out, that is okay because we have this one thing we share. I have genuinely enjoyed getting to know each of them and love our group. Even our 14 kids, who range in age and gender, have fun playing together while the grownups hang out.
Friendships cannot be left up to chance, they require intentionality.
I used to think that friendships should form organically and would grow if they were meant to. While a handful of relationships do form naturally, longevity and depth are marked by intention. There are people I would like to get to know better, but I can’t just wait to run into them and hope they really mean it when they say, “Let’s get together sometime.” The women I meet with for Moms in Prayer are some of my dearest friends, not only because we share a common passion, praying for our kids, but we faithfully get together for one hour, once a week, throughout the school year.
As I learned more about friendship, I started to take ownership of the relationships in my life. I stopped looking for just anybody to like me. I stopped hoping people would want to be around me only because we’ve met a few times and our kids go to the same school. I became interested in people, asking them questions about themselves, keeping my ears open for something we had in common. I’ve resisted the urge to chase after the people I thought I should be friends with and instead opened myself up to others who I now call friends.
The Meaning of Marriage: Facing the Complexities of Commitment with the Wisdom of God by Timothy Keller (section on friendship)
Lean On Me: Finding Intentional, Vulnerable, and Consistent Community by Anne Miller
Sorta Awesome Podcast - All About Friendship - Episode 14