I have many people that I refer to as friends! Some are good friends, some are casual friends, some may simply be acquaintances and some are long-time, shared my joy, know my scars and been there for me at the drop of a hat friends.
So what is friendship and how do we categorize our friends? How do we know who is a real friend and who isn’t, or whether we are being a good friend to someone or not? Does it matter how long we’ve known someone? Do similar interests make a better friend? What about how close you are to them in distance or how often you see them?
You can search through thousands of posts and memes on Facebook, Twitter or Pinterest to find someone else’s idea of what real friendship is or isn’t. We save and share and pin the ones that speak to us – but do they truly define what true friendships are in our own lives?
I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about my friendships lately. Remembering old friendships and wondering where new ones will go.
There is my best friend from my junior and high school years. We did everything together. We lived at each other’s homes and called each other’s parents Mom and Dad. We spent school days together then spent the evenings riding around town together or talking on the phone. We went through new boyfriends and breakups, social circle changes and anything else you could think of. If one was in trouble – usually so was the other. We would be best friends forever! Then came college and marriage and moves and children and life changes. We lost touch and went long periods of time between communications. Not out of dislike – just out of circumstances. Our relationship changed, simply because we aren’t teenagers any more. But we will always be friends, with all those wonderful memories!
There are my out of town friends. Some from when we lived in Florida, some who have moved away and others that I met over the years of my career. Most are spread out across the country now and I have not seen them in years. We keep in touch through calls, email and social sites. We still share experiences and thoughts, joys and sorrows. Are any of these friends less valuable, because I don’t see them very often?
There is my special group of friends, most that I went to school with, but back then I didn’t know many of them very well. It was a random connection about 13 years ago, and a “we should get together once and a while”, that started our little gang. It has grown a bit since then, with a new member joining every now and again. We’ve been through divorces, illness, loss of parents, growth of children, joy, heartache and many evenings of girl talk over the years. It’s amazing to think that I’ve known most of these ladies for over 30 years and even though I was not in their circle of friends back then, we have grown to be very good friends now.
There are the new friends that I’ve met through my church. I’m still getting to know most of them, but even in this short time I’ve learned something from each one. They have a special place in my heart and mentor me on my path.
And then there are my closest friends. You know those folks, the first time you meet them something just clicks. They come into your life through different avenues and at different points of your journey, but always at the exact right time. You may have some things in common, yet you aren’t exactly alike – and it doesn’t really matter. These are friends that even after some time apart, getting back together is effortless. You can talk to each other without watching your words, because they know the real you – and love you anyway! You would do anything for them and they would do anything for you. They are your “chosen” family and you would be desperate without them!
As I write this, I wonder what kind of category my friends would slot me into? Do I add value to their lives? Am I available to them? Do I make an effort? These are things I think of when considering my friendships with others – so how do I stack up?
The truth is, do categories even matter? Don’t each of us have friends who seem to fit certain roles? Some are better at comforting you when you are down. Some are best at pointing out when you need an attitude adjustment. There are those friends that you run to when you just need to let loose. And others are there when you need someone to just be silent with. We each play a role for others as well, so don’t beat yourself up if you can’t be everything to someone – even though you may want to or try to be.
God put us into each other’s lives for a reason – and if you wait and listen, that reason will be made known to you. I am blessed to have the friendships in my life that I do. I am thankful every day for those relationships and pray I can bring friendship and love to others!