One of my least favorite parts of this season of life is that friendship takes a lot more work now than it used to. But I think I’ve learned that can be a good thing.
See, for most of college I lived in a big, old, creaky house full of girl friends, and it was just about the funnest thing I’d ever done up to that point. We were all believers, 90% of the time we all got along, we cooked and studied together, people and friends and boyfriends were over constantly, and half the time there was some kind of discipleship group or Bible study meeting in our living room. There was always someone around to talk to, and being able to pray with and cry with those dear friends is something I’ll always remember.
By the end of my few years in that house, I was so excited to get married and then start living with Garret. And now, almost three years later, he’s still my favorite roommate of all time. But also?
Maintaining, growing and starting friendships takes A LOT more work now! I miss seeing girl friends every day. I miss friendship and community being convenient. I miss silly, late nights studying and laughing together.
But I’ve also learned that friendship taking more effort is not a completely negative thing.
- It forces you to decide which relationships to invest your limited time in, and makes it clearer when you need to step away from one. You have to be honest and realize that physically and emotionally you can’t keep up with everyone’s lives, and intentionally nourishing a smaller amount of close friendships instead is more fulfilling and helpful to others anyways. (Shauna Niequist’s “home team” concept in Bittersweet has really helped me accept my limits with this.)
- If you value a friendship, you have to put in the work to nourish it. You have to plan things and put yourself out there, even if you’re feeling lazy. You have to follow up even if you’re tired of always being the one making plans. Loving your friends and serving them well is worth the effort! Asking questions in conversations, making a big deal out of birthdays, and offering help are other worthwhile ways to love your friends well.
- When you’re lonely or having a hard time, you have to make the effort to call, email, text a friend – you can’t just walk down the dorm hallway or knock on your housemate’s door anymore, unfortunately. You have to be humble enough to admit when you need a hand and then seek it. Most friends can’t read your mind! Ha.
- Learning that friendships go in season and that no single one friend will ever be our perfect friend reminds us 1) to love people for themselves and not for their ability to meet our expectations or needs, and 2) to take our emotions, worries and needs first to Christ, who will always perfectly meet our needs, giving comfort and wisdom. (Christine Hoover’s book is a great resource on this.)
What have you learned about friendship in recent years?Little Life Lessons is a new link-up started by some of my twenty-something friends in The Influence Network and aimed at sharing lessons learned in this season of life.