I firmly believe the LORD places people in our lives for a number of reasons. We may never understand what those particular reasons are, but as Faithful followers of Christ, we take it on Faith (or at least try really hard to). We trust the LORD, because we know He has it all figured out (Right?).
Since my word this year is Fellowship, I’ve been contemplating friendships: how they’re formed, how they’re nourished, and how they fade away. I’ve never been someone with a large group of friends. Even in school, I preferred the company of a single person to a crowd. This hasn’t changed in the years since I left the halls overcrowded with teenage angst, overlapping voices, and the slamming of lockers (and do I need to mention the overpowering smell of cologne and body spray?).
Making friends also isn’t what it used to be. I’m no longer forced into situations where friendships are made simply out of necessity. I am no longer trapped inside a building for eight hours a day, sharing experiences with the same people hour after hour, bonding over a shared desire to grow up.
No, now I am that grown-up. I’m voluntarily in a home all day long with my children, and when possible, my husband. I’m not sharing in misery, I’m sharing in love and a desire to grow together.
Without the forced interaction, making friends is hard. Friendship is no longer about shared boredom, but about responsibility. Being friends isn’t just about seeing someone during classes, at lunch, or in the hallways. Friendship as an adult requires effort. It requires a deeper bond, and the understanding that you may go long periods of time without seeing each other, because you’re adults with responsibilities that take you on different paths.
Several years back God introduced me to one of my nearest and dearest friends. It was completely by chance we ever met. I was in California and she was in Washington. We met through an online writer’s group, and we often joke about it being the only time online dating ever worked (Love you, Babe!). She now lives in Hawaii with her new husband (one of my few friends from high school), and her three children. I’m of course, back in the PNW. Though we see each other rarely, our relationship remains intact. Our lives have taken us in drastically different directions, and on paper we shouldn’t match up, but God knows what each of us needs. Without even realizing it, she helped me to acknowledge God and to understand He was calling me. I’ve never told her I feel she was placed in my life to help me be the person I am today, and I’d like to think the LORD has used me in her life as well.
As I grow and change each day, I look for new opportunities (and often have to force myself into them) to meet people who may change my life in some way. I keep my heart open so I don’t miss the subtle signs God gives me that may lead me to someone who will become one of those few friends I cherish.
Of course, even with God’s grace and love, these opportunities always scare me. The shy girl I thought I left in junior high wants to come back. I start questioning everything I say. Did I just sound really dumb? Man, I should have dressed differently. I don’t fit in here. I have nothing in common. I’m so new to being Christian, what if I say something that completely labels me as some kind of fraud?
Okay, so in some cases making friends as an adult brings you right back to those terribly awkward teenage years. Or, maybe that’s just me.
I’ve met some amazing people in the last year, and especially in the past three months. I still have moments of discomfort and shyness, but more often than not I look forward to seeing them and getting to know them. Most of the time when I’m with them I’m able to relax and not wonder if I’m going to say something that will make me the social pariah. I’m a work in progress.
What it really comes down to is I NEED to trust in the LORD. I NEED to trust His work in others the same as I trust His work in me. None of us are perfect, and it is possible some of them are as hesitant as I am when it comes to meeting people and letting them into the heart.
Until next time, may the LORD bring peace to your life,