You know that saying, “Friends are the family you choose for yourself?”
I’ve always thought it was kind of cheesy, but lately it’s been running through my mind. Moving to a new place where I didn’t know anyone (well, save a few souls) has necessarily had me thinking about friendship a lot in the past few months. And in the last week or so it’s struck me even more how valuable good friends are.
Our church is big on community, and one of the ways it fosters that is by having spiritual formation groups that are gender-divided and neighborhood specific. It’s basically a small group, like you might find at a lot of churches, but with very intentional purposes: to foster deep relationships, prayerful conversations, and real discipleship growth. My group met for the first time this past Tuesday, and it was amazing to realize how much my heart has been craving something like that. A group of like-minded people with whom I can open up and be honest. A group of women to call my friends, whatever the basis of our friendship may be. A place to seek and find God. It was a great evening, and Sunday at church it was nice to chat with a few of them and feel like we were standing on some common ground. It’s been tiring since we moved to always feel like I’m having to cover the basics of who I am and make small talk with the few people I know.
But what the group also made me realize is how many wonderful friends I have made in my life and how important it should be to cultivate those relationships. (For whatever reason, cultivate is the word that keeps coming to my mind as I think about this journey: “to promote or improve the growth of by labor and attention.”) I’m all too aware of how easy it is to let people slip away when you don’t see them often, or to convince yourself that Facebook and Twitter communication are good replacements for real conversation. But so what that many of my friends and I are scattered around and no longer have built-in reasons to see each other? So what that I have begun to let communication collapse with some of the people I care most about? So what that as adults, our lives no longer look as similar as they once did? I’m resolving to stop using these as excuses and instead find ways to continue on in relationship. I’ve mentally hand-picked some people who have meant a lot to me and decided to seek them out, regardless of what our relationship has looked like lately.
Last week, I went on a letter writing spree. I pulled out some nice notecards and settled in to tell some people how much I care about them. Letters might not be the most efficient way to communicate these days, but this topic felt weighty enough that I wanted to make it meaningful. I don’t know what kind of response I’ll get to my cards. I don’t know exactly what adult friendships look like, or how best to make them work. I’ll probably need to get over my utter loathing of talking on the phone and put my voice where my blog is. But I always find that when I suck it up and talk to a friend, the sweet comfort it brings overcomes any dislike I may have had. So call me up. Write me a letter. Send me a long email. I choose you.
Are you good at communicating with your friends? What are some ways of keeping in touch that you’ve found work well?