As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another. Proverbs 27:17
You don’t really realize how important friends and friendship is until you don’t have it. In high school and college making friends is just part of the experience. You are surrounded by the same people from day to day and you find and connect with those that have similar interests as you. It may not seem easy in the moment, but looking back it wasn’t that difficult at all. When you’re taken out of the context that facilitates friendships, that’s when you realize how hard it is and how truly necessary it is.
I’ve never been the girl with a ton of friends. In high school I had a few really close friends, after high school I really only hung out with one or two people, and in college there were quite a few, but still nothing crazy. I typically tend to hangout with the same small group of friends, but spend the most time with whoever I’m closest with. Over the last few years that’s been Chloë. And it’s even easier because for the most part we have the same group of friends.
Moving to Phoenix for school was scary because I knew no one, but with all the festivities and activities on campus t made the transition easier and sped up the friendship process. There was chapel and at least two different small groups on every floor of all the dorms and apartments, so my options were wide ranging. Then there were the people who were in the same program as me, youth ministry, so needing people to study with helped create friendships as well. Plus the girls outnumbered the guys something like 8 to 1 on campus so that was a great factor in favoring of making friends. As I started making friends I would meet more friends through them and eventually had a solid core group of friends and it was great. We all lived in campus, typically went to chapel together, and one of my friends led a small group so we all went to her group each week. But then I graduated. That meant no longer living on campus and working full time. It also meant having to be intentional with finding time to connect with all my friends and if I’m honest I didn’t do so great at that. The group of girls I was always doing stuff with got smaller without me even realizing it at first, but I was content because I knew I had a few really great friends and that was enough for me. Looking back now I can see where I could have been more intentional and invested in all those friendships and am hoping to move forward purposely being that way.
Then moving to Boise I had Chloë so that was cake. She’s my best friend and honestly if you saw one of us without the other you would be wondering what was going on. We have always done pretty much everything together so moving to a new city for me wasn’t scary at all because I had her and her family. I wasn’t there very long at all to make friends, but once she started working and I was sitting at home still trying to find a job it got pretty tough. But I knew she would eventually get off work and we’d be back at doing or running around or working out or whatever it was together. It was moving to Columbia that I realized how hard and important making friends is.
I went into my time in South Carolina thinking I was only going to be here for ten months and it wasn’t a big deal. Now, seven months later and coming to terms with possibly staying here, I’m attempting to be more intentional with making friends. It’s not awful, but it does bring up fears of rejection, not being good enough, and worries that people will flat out not like me. If I’m honest, I’ve never been the person to reach out to others to ask to hangout. I’ve always had my one best friend that was always there and there wasn’t a need to ask to do something. I’ve quickly realized that’s not reality and find myself struggling with reaching out. Not because I don’t want to, but because I’m afraid they won’t want to hangout when I ask. Which isn’t truly an issue because that’s life, but because it’s an insecurity I have it’s like the enemy heightens it and convinces me it’s better not to. It’s easier to stay at home and not put myself out there, but that’s not living.
If I’m completely honest, the reason friendships are so hard, and maybe this is true for you, is because I’ve been hurt by friends. Toward the end of high school I was in a pretty serious relationship and because of that I pushed most of my friends away so my time wouldn’t have to be shared with anyone else. Then a few years later when that relationship ended I found myself with no one to turn to, no friends by my side to help me through the break up. That led me to get into some pretty unhealthy relationships that left me feeling like I didn’t need friends as long as I was dating someone. When I went to college I was single and it was a great opportunity to start over and really create some deep, long lasting friendships and I was scared, but excited about it. I had a couple really good friends my first semester, but unfortunately quickly turned back to my old ways and pushed them away. One of them was Chloë and I’m so grateful she chose to stick by my regardless! My last year of college I had a great group of friends, but then after I graduated it felt like I lost most of them. I didn’t understand what happened or why the dynamic changed, but it hurt for sure. At that point I didn’t really want to make any effort toward friends anymore. I had a couple really close friends and I was good with that. I didn’t want to get hurt nor did I want to hurt anyone else anymore. I was basically over it. But what kind of life is that? It took some time, maybe longer than I want to admit, but I realized I needed to forgive those that have hurt me and forgive myself for hurting the people I called friends and let it go. Jesus promised us life to the full in Him and I believe that life includes laughter and joy and the comfort that comes from having great friends in our lives!
So I’m deciding, this month, that I’m going to intentionally reach out to the few people I’ve connected with here and see if they want to get together! I know we aren’t meant to do this life alone, community and relationships are essential. Jesus had his disciples and calls us friends, David had Jonathan, we have the interactions between Job and his friends, and so many others that show us how important these relationships are. Our growth could be stunted without friends who push us, encourage us, and who point us to Jesus. We need each other to be like our iron and sharpen one another!