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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.
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Interesting how we often define ourselves by how many friends we have! Last night as I did my devotions I stumbled upon a verse in I Cor that says, "Now I say this, that each of you says, "I am of Paul," ro "I am of Apollos," or "I am of Cephas," or "I am of Christ." Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul?" (12-13) This really helped me to take to heart that I am defined by God's definition of me. Not my friends' definition. Or the world's definition. God's definition. Wow.
I have have a few very "deliberate" friends. They aren't the sort that just help me look popular lol! They edify and comfort and encourage and convict me. These friendships mean a TON to me!!
I have about two deliberate friends that I've made since we've moved six months ago.I Ironically, neither of them are from church, where making new friends has been much, much harder. One is the wife of one of my husband's coworkers and the other is a coworker of mine. We are friends, deliberately, because we like each other, have mutual interests and because life has sort of thrown us together. I think that there is no reason why people who share those common interests can't become intentional and deliberate friends over time.
I think I'd be more weirded out by someone who immediately wanted to dive in deep to my spiritual life and discussion before truly getting to know me.
A few times now, I've moved somewhere on my own. Where I knew NO ONE. I had to develop friend-making skills really fast, and be very deliberate and intentional about making friends.
What's interesting is that people surprise you - the person who seemed such a good friend at the start is not necessarily the one who puts in the time. But if you're both investing and setting aside time, a wonderful friendship can develop even if it seems you had nothing in common initially!
What a great perspective change, Ashley. And in growing in intentionality in friendship you are fostering the wisdom and commitment necessary to be intentional in dating. I see a huge parallel. I once dated because of the same shallow, self-indulgent reasons you accumulated friends. And sadly many marry for the same sorts of reasons. It was, in fact, my intentional friends who trained me to pursue the same in dating.
Thanks for the post, I have been thinking of this more recently as like you I don't have much family in the city I leave in and am a single and so friends are all I have some times but its hard to cultivate those deep friendships when in this stage of life people are more absorbed in their own lives. Like I have friends who I are my school friends and mentors from church from when I was a mare teenager. This people thought live in different countries now keep in touch and we still have deep friendships. But in this stage of life that seems impossible as it has not happened as yet where I have been intentional too, so I kind of gave up on the idea and just cherish the old friendships I have :) By the way God is a great friend.
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