Four weeks of blogging on friendship cannot encapsulate the many nuances of this topic: the types, styles and dynamics. Reflecting upon the many people I have called friends through the years brings a smile (and some tears) to my face. My friendships have crossed cultures, world views and generations. They have opened my eyes to the value of vulnerability.
Leaving my home state and subsequently, my comfort zone, to settle in another left me wondering if I could possibly establish community where I had no prior connections or history. Upon moving into our new neighborhood, my family and I did the following:
- Found a church: it wasn’t until we connected with the family of God that I really began to feel at home. My husband insisted we get involved with the church right away and soon fresh friendships were forming.
- Waved to our neighbors: there is something about waving and smiling to the people that pass by every day on walks or drives that builds connections which lead to conversations.
- Bread and tea: at Christmas I made bread for our neighbors that we delivered in person. Doors and hearts always open to freshly baked bread. In the months and chats that followed I put Tea at Two on my social calendar, as well as a Hobby Night, and now a few of my neighbors come over regularly to chat, laugh, pray and support one another.
The rewards of friendship are countless. There’s the intrigue that comes with meeting lovely people in unexpected ways and listening to their profound life stories; there’s the joy and love that come from building new connections and being embraced by folks you never knew existed a handful of years ago; and there’s the security that comes from not being invisible in your own community. But the risks are also real.
I have had my share of hurt in friendship- some being quite fresh. To have friends, one must be vulnerable and real and that provides ample opportunity for rejection and betrayal. Friends know your history, your weaknesses, your hopes and dreams; you assume they are a safe place. But friends are also human and susceptible to misunderstandings, offenses, jealousies, the comparison game, and a myriad of other weaknesses that destroy relationships. How does one navigate these risks?
As I conclude my friendship series, I wish I could provide a succinct answer. Unfortunately, I’m no friendship expert. All I know is that in a world of chaos and evil I am thankful for the people I call friends. I am blessed by their life experience, their kindness and their availability. I am inspired by them to be a good friend and a true friend- someone that people depend upon. But because I am just as human as the next soul, I know I can’t be a friend without Jesus. I have to lean into Him for the wisdom and guidance needed to multiply the joy and process the sorrow of friendship.
How do you navigate the risks and rewards of friendships?