It was about halfway through our vegetarian fajitas, on a Saturday night. I reached into my purse, pulled out a card, and handed it to my friend. The card read “Always believe something wonderful is about to happen.” In the card was a quote I had written inside. I am subscribed to receive a daily quote in my e-mail, and this was my quote of the day.
“The bird—a nest. The spider—a web. Man—friendship.” William Blake
Something wonderful was about to happen—the birth of a friendship.
Last weekend when we met up, my friend gave a book to me. This book is called “Find Your People” by Jennie Allen. I’ve been reading it lately, and I highly recommend it. This book inspired me to write about the gift of friendship.
People long to be seen, heard, known, understood, and cherished. People long for connection. I am grateful for meaningful relationships in my life, true friendships, community, fellowship, and a sense of belonging.
It’s not always easy as an adult to cultivate friendships, especially when you’ve lost touch with friends from school, friends from college, but believe me when I say this, the time and effort it takes to find genuine friendship is always worth it. Sometimes it takes stepping outside of your comfort zone, breaking out of your routine, trying new things, and even sometimes doing things you don’t feel like doing. Eventually though, you will find likeminded people—your people.
I want to make a distinction between friendly acquaintances and genuine friendship. I’m the type of person that can make friends with anyone and get along with everyone, but I’m very careful about the people I walk closely with. I have friends at work, of course, but for me, that’s a different type of friendship; it’s professional, and I don’t believe in pursuing friendship outside of work with coworkers or patients and their families. This is where church comes into play. The value of finding a church home—a place to put down roots and build lifelong friendships with people—is absolutely unmatched. It wasn’t easy at first. In fact, it was actually quite scary to place myself in the center of a place where I knew no one. But, this was something I knew I wanted for myself, and I thank God every day that I had it in me, that I have it in me to push myself to do the things that are difficult because I know it’s the best thing for me.
For a while, my only human friend (besides my mom who is my best friend) was the little old lady that lives next door to me. I remember a particular Friday evening after work; I had just experienced what was probably the worst day at work I had ever had. I had been holding in my emotions all day, ignorantly believing it made me stronger. As I made it home and exited my car, she walked up to me and began to tell me how happy it made her to see my rose bush in bloom. That’s when it hit me; I was home, in my safe place, and I could finally take my mask off. I looked into her eyes and whispered “I’m sorry” before breaking down into tears and laying my head on her shoulder. She told me how wonderful I was and how much it hurt her to see me hurting. This truly is what it means to have a friend.
Genuine friends aren’t those people who follow you on social media so they can monitor what you’ve got going on and compare themselves to you. Genuine friends aren’t the people that call you up to hang out when they’re bored and don’t have anything better to do. Genuine friends aren’t people who compete with you or envy you. Genuine friends aren’t the ones that are only around when your life is messed up, never truly capable of celebrating your victories alongside you. No, these are not your people.
When you pursue God, He will show you who you are. Once you know who you are, your discernment will strengthen, your heart will open, and genuine friendships can take form.
I prayed for genuine friendship in my life. I prayed consistently, for a long time, and God answered my prayer. Friendship didn’t fall out of the sky, though; I had to put forth the effort. I made myself available to receive genuine friendship. I found a good church home. I joined a small group. I said yes to invites. I let people in. This is the way it’s supposed to happen, the way it’s meant to be. Somewhere along the way—while sitting together at church, eating together, reading together, listening together, serving together, growing together—I realized I had been blessed with one of the greatest gifts of all—the gift of friendship.