Friendships are the best, right? I mean, can anyone else remember being back in elementary school, when you and your friend decided to solidify the fact that you would be best friends forever with BFF necklaces? Friendships back then were so simple. They were based on what class you were in, or what you liked to do, or which boy band was your favorite. And, for the most part, they were pretty steady. It wasn’t until middle and high school that things started to get a little more complicated, when we all started separating into cliques and groups. I remember that time of my life being challenging, as I considered myself a “floater” who got along with almost everyone. I kind of bounced around from group to group each year, never really knowing who my closest friends were until I was a senior.
At this point, I have been out of high school for almost ten years, and I have consequently learned a lot about what healthy and unhealthy friendships look like. I have learned that some friendships form very naturally and can last a long time, that sometimes the hardest friendships are the most worth fighting for, and that sometimes you just have to let go of the ones that are not encouraging you to be the best version of yourself. So allow me to share of the things that I have learned about friendships with you:
- You get to choose your friends, so choose wisely! Look for those who will encourage you, challenge you, and love you no matter what; the ones who call you out on your crap and remind you of your true worth. Those kinds of friends are absolute keepers.
- You have to work to maintain your friendships, especially post high school and college. When you’re no longer living with or sitting in classes with your friends everyday, you will need to be very intentional to stay close wth them. Snail mail, coffee dates, and spontaneous road trips are always winning options.
- It’s okay for some friendships to slowly fade away. Some friends are for a reason or for a season, and are not necessarily meant to last forever. This is natural and happens to all of us, so feel free to grieve any losses while moving forward in your other friendships.
- Sometimes, the best thing you can do is end a toxic friendship. If you have a friend who radiates negativity, is a bad influence, or has boundary issues, know that it’s okay to walk away. It won't necessarily be easy, but you want to make sure you are taking care of yourself in your friendships, too.
- You might find yourself on the receiving end of a broken or dying friendship. Maybe your friend tells you that they can’t be friends anymore, or maybe they just shut you out for no reason at all. These situations are really tough, especially when they are someone you really care about. My advice in these situations comes straight from the Bible — “If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all." (Romans 12:18). Do all that is in your power to make peace with that friendship, and if it is not received, feel free to walk away knowing you tried to make it right. And remember that sometimes it has less to do with you than you may think.
Friendships are beautiful, wonderful gifts from God, but that doesn’t always mean that they are easy. They take work, intentionality, and a whole lot of grace, but they are most certainly a picture of God’s love for His kids. So get out there and grow deeper with the friends you value most, seek new friendships with those that will encourage and challenge you to be your best self, and always remember that Jesus is the greatest friend of all.
“A friend loves at all times…”
“Therefore encourage one another and build one another up…”
1 Thessalonians 5:11
“Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you must also forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.”