College dorm life was a dream come true for an extrovert like me. Coming from a small family with only one brother, I loved having seventy girls on my hall to hang out with at any hour of the day. Not only that, but each of my roommates became my new soul sister. It felt like glorified, year-round Bible camp.
In 2001, I left dorm 19-2 of Liberty University, got married, and moved to Northern Virginia. Although being married to my best friend was amazing, it was still an adjustment. Our new church didn’t have many young girls my age and life suddenly got busy with a full time job and ministry. My life went from busting with friends to a barrenness of friends.
One year the women of my church and I went to a women’s conference and one of the sessions was on developing close friendships. I can remember feeling awful and actually leaving the room to sit in the hallway for some reflection. It was bad enough that I didn’t have close friendships with anyone where we lived, but now I was being told that I really should. I mean, that’s what I longed for, so why were intimate friendships so elusive?
I went home and wept in my husband’s arms, emoting about how hard it was to make friends. Every relationship in my new life was so shallow and I longed for more.
After he patiently listened and explored my distress, he finally said the most profound thing. “You’re too concerned about HAVING friends and not concerned enough about BEING a friend.”
He single-handledly, in one sentence, turned everything I’d thought about the subject on its head.
“You’re making this too hard. Just be a friend to the women in your life, and don’t worry so much about what you get back.”
Huh? Focus less on myself and more on others? That sounded familiar. Philippians 2:3. “In humility, count others as more significant than yourselves.”
Why had I thought this subject was an exception to this principle? For me, I was very focused on having heart-to-heart conversations and felt frustrated when my new friends were not meeting this “need.”
Colby continued. “Every friendship is different, and you can’t expect to connect with EVERYONE on a heart level like you did with your college roommates.”
This conversation was something I would chew on and wrestle with and explore for the next decade.
In the last ten years of living in the transient, urban congestion of Northern Virginia, I have learned a lot about friendships.
They are precious.
They are a gift from God.
They are each unique, just as each person is unique.
They are designed to sharpen us.
They are made to mold us more into the image of our Creator.
Relationships are more important than anything else in this life. We know this, but do our schedules reflect this? Do we leave margins in our lives for relationships? Are we willing to drop our tasks at a moment’s notice for a significant conversation or a friend who is in need?
Let’s not make this subject more complicated than it needs to be. Be a friend to the people God places in your life. Nurture relationships with time, kindness and trust. Some relationships will be deeper than others. But all of them contribute to a beautiful mosaic that makes life richer.