“I think you have a skewed view of friendship.”
These words came from my husband after I had just bemoaned to him for the umpteenth time about my friendship struggles. I received his words in the best possible way, of course, and replied, “You don’t understand. You’ve always had a lot of good friends.”
I wanted friends like he had. People around my age and stage of life who had similar interests and desires. He kept telling me it seemed like I had this vision of “a perfect friend” in my head, along with a bunch of friendship rules this individual must follow.
This husband of mine. The one who has been a groomsman in a million weddings and has had close friends since college days. He couldn’t understand my friendship struggles.
There was a time several years ago when it seemed that every blogger and author I followed was writing about friendship. How to find a tribe of girlfriends. The weekend trips they went on with said tribe. 5 Easy Ways to Make Friends.
Meanwhile, in the Land of Loneliness . . . there was Christa.
Quick solution? Stop reading the blogs and books.
Hard, but long-lasting solution? Deal with my heart.
Initially, I went the quick solution route.
A few years passed. During those years, I had resigned myself to never having the perfect friend. I started to reach out to those God placed around me; serving, listening and sharing my heart.
Then something crazy happened.
Only that wasn’t the crazy part.
During the whole moving process, I had many conversations with my husband that went like this:
Me: “I’m so sad to leave all our friends.”
Him: “I thought you always felt like you didn’t have many friends.”
Apparently, sometime between the years of my looking for the perfect friend(s) and the time we moved, friendship just kinda snuck up on me. You see, God had done this really cool thing in my heart. He showed me how selfish I was acting in wanting someone to be the perfect friend for me and how, in my selfishness, I was refusing to show Christlike love to people right around me. Christ’s love is one that gives without expecting anything in return. I had a love that sometimes gave (albeit stingily), but only if I felt like I would get a decent payback. As a result, I felt frustrated in my relationships because none of them could ever match my exceedingly unrealistic expectations.
Maybe you’re like me.
Maybe you have this vision in your head of the perfect friend. The ideal person who is eerily similar to you, yet different. The perfect complement to your personality type. Someone you can go with on weekend trips. Someone who will come to your aid at a moment’s notice.
But you know what? Maybe God wants to blow your definition of friendship out of the water.
Maybe He wants to teach you that friendship is not about you and your skewed definition (props to my husband for calling that out for me even when I wasn’t a great listener), but about loving and serving the people God places around you.
Maybe friendship isn’t about one specific person you’re friends with for your entire life, but multiple people God brings along for different times and reasons.
Maybe God wants you to be a friend to someone who gets on your nerves. Perhaps He wants you to show love to someone who will never reciprocate. And maybe most often, He wants you to just serve those around you, regardless of whether they fit your “perfect friend requirement.”
In my case, I had this picture of what my ideal friend looked like. Then God mercifully worked in my heart, taught me to love those around me, and showed me I did indeed have a skewed view of friendship. And the crazy part? While I was working to show Christlike love to people around me, a funny thing happened: all these friendships just snuck up on me. They snuck up so gradually that I didn’t even realize all these people were my friends until I faced moving away from them.
They didn’t look like the “perfect friend” I initially wanted. They were so much better. Many of them were old enough to be my mother, several could have been my grandmother, and still others could have passed for my daughters. They were perfect. Perfect for me and my stage of life. Perfect because God had given them to me.
God has given you perfect friends too.
If you go into life looking for the perfect friend, take it from someone who found out by trial and error –
you’re not going to find anyone who meets your requirements.
BUT! If you go into your days serving and loving those around you, one day you’ll discover a deeper and better definition of friendship. In fact, you’ll discover you’re absolutely surrounded with perfect friends. Perfect, not because they meet your perfect friend requirement list, but because God has perfectly and providentially placed them in your life for this season. So love them, just like He loves you.