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The Art of Friendship

Have you ever felt stupid? And not just stupid, but really stupid? One of my greatest joys in life is to make new friends. It doesn’t even matter to me which category they fall into. They could be acquaintances, friends or my inner circle of people. I just love meeting and connecting with new people. I pride myself on being inclusive and welcoming. I like to gather with friends and have deep conversations, preferably over coffee.

Recently, a friend who moved here within the last two years had a birthday. I also like to celebrate my friends! For her birthday, I gave her a gift and sent her an encouraging text. I did all the things I love to do. This friend and I don’t spend a ton of time together, but the time we do has been nothing but quality. We have amazing conversations and pray for each other. We have shared meals and hurts and dreams. This means that we are pretty good friends, right?

Apparently not. A mutual friend of ours and I were hanging out and she remarked on upcoming birthdays. I mentioned our friend’s birthday and wondered if we were doing anything to celebrate. She told me our friend had actually had a small brunch-type gathering the Saturday before. My heart absolutely sank. Honestly, it broke a little. I was under the assumption that we were good friends. At least good enough friends to warrant an invite to a birthday celebration.

I avoid by nature. I hate awkward and hard conversations and situations. I always have. They cause me a bit of anxiety. I don’t want to be this way. I’m actually working on being better at brave communication. So, I confessed my hurt feelings to that friend. She was sorry that I was hurt and said that her gathering consisted of a small group of her inner circle friends. I understood her perspective. I appreciated it. There is no right or wrong here.  I wasn’t angry at her, but I was still hurt. Gratefully, it served as a revelation for me.

Somehow, I had assumed a level of friendship that was not true. I don’t ever want to be in that situation again. I don’t ever want for someone else to find themselves in that situation either.

This whole incident provoked me to think about my current friendships and new ones I will make. I want to know many people. I want to have tons of friends on many levels. I want to have a few close ones. But I never want to exclude friends because they aren’t my closest friends. I never want anyone to feel uninvited or unwelcome in my life.

God designed for us to be in community. He welcomes all of His children into His presence. Every friendship is to glorify Him and encourage the Body.

Our friendships matter to God. They are to look like our friendship with Christ.

What does friendship look like? What do my friendships look like?  What do your friendships look like?

“Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm.” Proverbs 13:20

I want to be wise. Often wisdom is caught from those we are surrounded by. I have learned many a lesson the hard way, through experience. But many lessons have been learned through the experiences of my friends. We all stumble and fall. It’s such a blessing to have friends who can lead you down paths they have already traveled.

“Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.” Colossians 3:12-14

These verses are not easy, but they are possible. This is when we do the hard work of friendship. Solid, God glorifying, covenant friendships don’t happen by happenstance. They take prayer, effort, love, compassion, humility and forgiveness. They require for us to fully be who God has created us to be…chosen, loved, holy and beloved. Friendships can be messy and awkward, but I’ve discovered that they are completely worth it.

“One who is righteous is a guide to his neighbor, but the way of the wicked leads them astray.” Proverbs 12:26

Righteous is to be upright. It describes an ongoing relationship with God and being conformed to His likeness. Those whom we give permission to speak into our lives need to be in ongoing fellowship with the One who changes hearts and lives. They will speak life and hope and truth into our spirits.

There are seemingly unending ways for friendships to look and seemingly unending facets that can describe friendship. This is not the be all, end all description of friendship. But these are a few aspects that stuck out to me as 2017 begins. I want every person that I call friend to exude these qualities. I want to be the friend that exudes these qualities.

Covenant friends are lifelong friends. They are in it for the long haul. Whether those friends are my closest or ones that I connect with every now and then, I want to treasure that. I want to see value and purpose in those friendships. I want to know that they are in my life for a reason. Those reasons happen in different seasons.

The gift of friendship and belonging are beautiful gifts. There is an art to navigating them well.

May my 2017 and yours be full of the art and gift of God-ordained friendships!

What are some qualities that you desire in a friendship?