When you are in school it is easy to meet other people with similar perspectives and interests because the educational systems categorize and do the grouping for you. For most of us, it’s so natural that we miss how easy it makes it to begin friendships. Once you leave school, making friends is a very different challenge. Categories grow broader and people are often less open to forging new friend fashions because they require such huge investments of time and effort.
You Can’t be Friends with Everyone
I have a personality that enjoys making new friends and genuinely enjoy meeting new people. I also grew up in a town so small that we were all only one degree separated from anyone else in town, at most. Once I left the country, it was difficult for me to understand that it isn’t possible to be friends with everyone.
This insight helped guide me to find and make friends of great value. There is also a great freedom in recognizing that we are not going to like everyone, and we are allowed not to like people even if they are the same faith. As much as it would be great if we were all friends, sometimes all we can do is be a charitable neighbor.
Friendship Requires Openness
Regardless of your temperament and personality, real friendships require a gift of yourself that is hard to fake. It’s hard to classify a relationship as friends if there is never a mutual giving and receiving of persons. This can sound odd, but we have to acknowledge that it goes beyond just sharing common interests. True friendship also requires us to overcome fears and hesitations of truly being known. Understandably, being vulnerable can feel overly exposed and dangerous, but we can only receive the amount we allow.
Can Friends Believe Differently?
Since friends require so much openness, this also brings up the question about friendships with those that do not believe the same way that we do. This seems to be a very controversial part of friendships today, where we demand that people agree with us instantly, and it is easy to remove someone’s voice from your life whenever you disagree. Anyone that is mature in the faith can find that it is possible to have friends the believe differently. I have found that it’s one of the best ways to show Jesus to someone – through relationship.
While it is possible to have some of different or faith, it’s still important that we surround ourselves with many friends that can strengthen us.
“Iron is sharpened by iron; one person sharpens another.”
In our digital world, Facebook has tried to redefine what it means to be a friend, even when we didn’t think it did. There are certain levels of friendships we can have with people, and while there are no real hard and fast thresholds for each level, there is certainly distinction between the ways in which we share our lives with them. If we’re not careful, good friends can easily transition into only people we keep up with on social media, and we have to be honest when looking at the limitations of knowing someone only through the limited scope of these mediums.
“Faithful friends are a sturdy shelter;
whoever finds one finds a treasure.
Faithful friends are beyond price,
no amount can balance their worth.
Faithful friends are life-saving medicine;
those who fear God will find them.”
– Sirach 6:14-16
Take a Risk
Over the past few years, I’ve had several conversations with young adults that find it very difficult to make good friends outside of school and early in their career. Friendship won’t just happen, it will take effort and work. In many ways, it takes as much work as dating, so you have to get out there. A great option is to join a ministry directed for young adults, go to meetups you find with people of common interest, and try new things.
One of the best ways to find friends is to focus much of your energy on following Christ and where He is leading you. The more time you spend doing that, then you will usually start to recognize others around you that are nearby on a similar path. Look around and then start talking.
It’s a learning process, and it will work out with some and not with others. We all wish we could have as close of friendships as the many groups we see in sitcoms and movies, but that doesn’t happen overnight. If you’re feeling like friends are hard to find these days, ask Jesus for some help, and then act upon the promptings He gives you.