“The only way to have a friend is to be one” Ralph Waldo Emerson
I have learned a lot about friendship this year. As always, it was hard to leave behind good friends when we moved. I’ve said before, but I feel it’s really hard to make friends at this stage of life. After this last move, I determined early on there was no way of finding friends as good as the ones I already have, so I wasn’t going to try. It’s hard to put down roots when you know another move is possible. It takes a lot of energy and emotional investment to build real, authentic relationships. It can be easier to decide it’s not worth putting the time in. I decided I could live as an island. But here is what God did; he brought along new friends into my life to remind me and show me life is better together. He knew I would need a support system and he gave me some godly women I could link arms with. I’m so humbled how He cares about friendships and how He provides.
A good friend, who has gone through true sorrow and sadness, shared with me how important it is to have your support group established before you need it. She said when the trials come along, it’s too late to build it. That has stuck with me and reiterated the importance of having people in your life who will hold you up when you can’t stand on your own. Or who will sit with you until you have strength to stand again.
Sometimes, however, I expect too much of my friends. My feelings can easily get hurt if I don’t adjust my expectations. Just as in any other relationship, people will let us down. I need to have much more grace when that happens. These things make me want to be a better friend. I’m trying to be more intentional and really listen when I ask questions. I’ve learned being present and sincere goes long way. And I’m trying to be much more grace-filled.
I’m beginning to understand the power our friends have in our lives. They can speak encouragement when you’re hurting or second-guessing yourself. They can help your walk with God by holding you accountable. They can help the long days feel shorter. They can also give you perspective and, if need be, call you out on something in a loving way.
I love how God cares about our relationships and wants us to have people around us to support us. You never know what lasting friendships you stumble upon when you take a step of vulnerability. In Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 it says, “Two are better than one. If either of them falls down, one can help the other up.” And in Provers 27:17 it says, “You use steel to sharpen steel and one friend sharpens another.” I’m thankful for all those I have a privilege to call friend and appreciate the gentle reminder from God on how life is not meant to be lived alone.