As a single with no immediate family living close by, my friends play an important role. In the absence of a spouse, a friend often becomes my ride to the airport, deliverer of medicine when I’m too sick to leave the house, and a second set of hands to hold the rod when I’m hanging curtains.
For most of my life I’ve thought the more friends, the better. Whether it was a sign that I was popular or a way to define my significance, I’ve always thought that one could never have enough friends.
But I was reading a blog about women’s friendship in churches, and I was struck by the phrase deliberate friends. The author was making the case that in the church women tend to settle for shallow friendships, and as a result there can be gossip, back-stabbing and divisiveness. She was encouraging women to reach out and be intentional and deliberate in their search for true, authentic friendship.
I love that phrase because as I’ve entered my 30s, my friendships have changed. When I first moved to Colorado after college, I had a built-in group of friends from a semester program I had attended. In fact, two out of my three roommates stayed in town after the program ended. A job, small group and roommates filled out the rest of my friendship needs, and I never really had to search out or be intentional about the friends I made. They just sort of happened.
But as I’ve gotten older, friends have moved away, gotten married and started families, and I don’t have roommates currently. As my friendships have evolved, I’ve found value in being deliberate about making new friends.
No longer do I need to have tons of friends (Facebook or real life) to feel validated. I’d rather have fewer friends, but ones who I know will be there no matter what. So as I’ve needed new friends, I’ve been more thoughtful and intentional about who I invest in. I’m not talking about casual friendships or people I know on a surface level, but I’m talking about that small group of friends who are my go-to people.
I’m looking to invest in friendships where it’s more than just a shared interest or a job that we have in common. It’s friends who are loyal and committed and who when they say they’re praying for you, they really are. It’s a friend who isn’t afraid to talk about the hard stuff with me and point out where there might be flaws in my thinking. And of course, a friend where I can be all of these things in return.
In an online social world where the term “friend” can mean all sorts of things, I like the idea of being deliberate in who I seek out as a friend. It’s less about the number and more about a deliberate decision to invest wisely.