Your friends in grade school are the ones you swear you will have for life. After all, they were there for many of the “firsts”. They fought the fights, cried the tears and kept your secrets. Then you graduated and the simplicity of life soon gave way to college, work, distance and other interests. Some effort is made to glue it all back together but only a few from those years in school manage to stay on as friends.
Then workplace friends, colleagues and network building begins. Common interests cause a natural gravitational tug towards others. After all, you see these people more than you see your family sometimes. Out of those relationships come real gems of friendships that manage to carry on well past the time you told that job to kick rocks and die. I like those kind of relationships because if workplace gossip is no longer the common denominator, you really know then that this connection is built on more than that.
Then there is that friendship that’s been there for a minute but now it’s taken on the semblance of some crusty old bread. You know the bread that managed to fall to the bottom of the toaster and you leave it there out of guilt. You’ve known this person for quite a while. You have similar interests. Your circle of friends are pretty much the same. People always expect to see the two of you in a crowd not too far apart. But the truth of the matter is, the distance you feel has less to do with actual miles and more to do with loss of connection.
Nothing like closing out a year to cause one to do a friendship inventory. I know I do it every year. And every year I earn new friendships while I let some go. Some I take full responsibility for. Some I don’t. Some I meant to prune and others . . . well . . . life happened and it just wasn’t working out.
I’m reminded that friendships don’t just grow on their own and they certainly aren’t sustained by pieces of tape and cheap glue. There’s a lot that goes into maintaining healthy female friendships. Accountability, transparency, humor, common values, similar drive in attaining goals—the recipe involves more than a girls night out and matching bracelets. It’s going through the muck of our respective lives. The joys of seeing each other succeed. The grief when our lives take a turn for the worse. The brutal honesty that’s needed to unscramble the chaos we find ourselves in. The in ya face, cuss you out cause you my friend and friends don’t let friends fail at life. The tenderness to sit in silence when all else fails.
These all serve as nutrients to our friendship tree over the years. Frankly, not everyone is cut out to do it. Not everyone is cut out to be that friend to you. Heck! Are you cut out to be that friend? Maybe your expectations were set too high for the wrong people in your life. Maybe God didn’t send them to fill those shoes for you. Maybe you need to think about the type of friend you’ve been and see if this is a reflection of how others see and treat you.
There is no hard and fast rule to how you make and keep friends. I truly believe divine intervention created all of mine. There’s no logical reason why a shy and quiet girl turned introvert adult should have cultivated as many friendships over the years all on her own. I never had the wherewithal to make that happen on my own. My social awkwardness has ultimately made way for Him lead the way on how I treat others. Once God placed these people in my lives, I knew it was my responsibility to breathe life into these relationships. The texts. The random cards. The funny memes. The group chats. The “at the house” dinners. The early morning calls (and yes I do call people and speak on the phone). The conversations that should never make the cover of the newspaper. All make for beautiful memories. All make for great reasons to fight for your friendships. All make for great reasons why friendships grow.
Distance, kids, marriage, jobs—-don’t use those as an excuse for letting your friendship tree grow brittle. Make the time. Make the effort. Make it why your friendships stay growing.