Friends are beautiful gifts in the journey of life. Some of the greatest memories we will ever make will be with people we care about deeply, rather than the times we are alone. Why is it that we’re so attached to one another? Maybe it’s just me, but I have a deep longing to be known, seen and loved. It’s etched onto the canvas of the human soul, as if we can’t escape the need for one another.
The Scriptures are full of examples of friendships that move us and remind us of our humanity. In fact, the Scriptures are often a reflection of what it is to be in community with one another, loving one another with grace, compassion and empathy. The Message puts it beautifully in Proverbs 18:24: “Friends come and friends go, but a true friend sticks by you like family.”
As I grow older, the more I realize how rare it is to have a true friend—one who will walk with you through the highs and the lows.
A couple years ago, I thought I was becoming friends with a guy at my work. We were walking to get coffee and he jokingly said, “I consider you more of a social colleague rather than a friend. We work together, we hang out on lunch breaks, but we never hang out when we’re away from the office.” He made a valid point.
So yeah, sure, we all have numerous “social colleagues” in life, but how many of those have stayed the course through our lives? If you’re not above 30 yet, you probably haven’t experienced the drop-off rate that many folks like myself have experienced. It’s hard, quite honestly. Friends get married, have kids and mysteriously lose your phone number. Even those who don’t get married often get so wrapped up in their career and ambitions that it’s hard to maintain regular contact.
For much of my life, I’ve felt like a misfit. I’m a bit of a weirdo, if I’m honest. Thankfully, I have a couple close friends who know that side of me and who not only tolerate it, but they literally like that part of me! It’s crazy! Who knew God made people who accepted weirdos as friends?
For many of us, feeling misunderstood, alone and unseen is a daily struggle. Friends are harder and harder to come by in a world driven by success, status and nepotism. Many of our relationships are built on give and take, not simply, “I like you for who you are. Let’s be friends.” Much of the brokenness within each one of us comes from the void of close companions who see us, know us and want to stick around. The world is cruel and often lonely, leaving us wondering whether or not we’re important to anyone else. So, how do we find the people who “get us”?
The Right Ones
If you’re looking for wisdom, always start with the Scriptures, then look to The Beatles. John Lennon once said, “Being honest may not get you a lot of friends but it’ll always get you the right ones.” I think he’s got a valid point. A lot of people will be disinterested when they see the real you, yet the right people will stick around because they resonate with your story. Consider it a process of elimination. Much of our social interaction is filled with falsehood and masquerades, which makes being honest so difficult (and risky). For many of us, it’s easy to fall into the pursuit of wanting to fit in, rather than striving to be authentic and true to the person God has created us to be.
Friends like Frodo Baggins and Samwise Gamgee are hard to find, but they’re real. The human soul desperately craves friends who will travel the perilous journey to Mordor, not social colleagues who only want to meet us at the local pub in the Shire. We want more and we should, as the human soul was designed for community, love and oneness. Frodo didn’t feel worthy of Sam following him along into the unknown, yet Sam did what true friends do—he followed Frodo because he wanted to, not because he had to.
Something we often don’t think about, yet is absolutely essential to making lasting friendships, is that we must care to know and love others. This isn’t simply, “Hey, be my friend and accept me for who I am in all my honesty.” Rather, we are called to see others for who they are, loving them and giving them a space to be themselves. This isn’t just about us. So many friendships are lost in the aftermath of one friend taking everything, all while never giving of themselves in return. Just as we need them, so they need us. That’s the essence of friendship.
For those of you who say, “Andrew, I literally have no good friends”, know that you’re not alone. In fact, there are many people wishing for a friend like you. No one is unloved. Friends are incredibly difficult to find, but they’re out there. You may not have met them yet, but that doesn’t mean you won’t. You are not a loser. You may be a weirdo like me, but as I said before, God even makes friends for us!
There are people in this world who won’t understand you or care to know you and that’s their problem.
You are visible, loved, and created with purpose.
We may be misfits to many, but not to all. The few who “get” us are enough.
Andrew Voigt is a writer and blogger who engages in conversations about God, brokenness, and what it means to be human. He currently lives in Charlotte, NC and is a self-renowned root beer and coffee enthusiast.