Friendship. In a world of social media created distance, the good old fashioned kind is pretty hard to come by. Maybe it's because my top love language is quality time, but all my life I have known my deep need for friendship. And because it's always been something I've wanted and sought out, it's an area I've seen the Lord work in time and time again.
My college roommates and I coined the phrase, that "friendship is 90% prayer and 10% effort". We knew it was the fruit of prayer for good friends that brought us all together. That and a little effort in the way of conversation and facebook stalking. ;)
Looking back, I think it's safe to say that's how all my best friendships began.
I distinctly remember the pain of moving as a 12 year old, leaving the home school community and church friends that I had grown up with, and landing in a place where we didn't know anyone. Though we weren't actually that far away, the distance was enough (especially since we were preteens who couldn't drive) that a good many of my friendships slowly waned. I spent some lonely years in 8th grade and high school. There were a lot of other factors (church planting, going to a new public school, bouts with depression) but those weren't the best years of my life. In the end though, the Lord provided all that I needed.
A friend, Rosa, came into my life at just the right time. We talked for hours about our relationships with the Lord; we struggled through making big life decisions and relating to family; we encouraged each other when we were tired and worn out. And the best part? We never lived in the same city or went to the same high school or college. We currently see each other about one time a year. But the very best friendships, the kinds forged in prayer, don't require being in the same place all of the time.
In other seasons the Lord gave me friends in places I didn't expect. A college small group -turned best friends- provided me with girls to be myself with, in a time when I was just finding out who that was. A classmate/roommate/coworker became someone to lock arms with during 1am closing shifts at Chipotle and 6am prayer meetings the next day. Not all of these friendships still operate in the same way, because just as life shifts and changes, so do our needs and so does the answer of friendship.
Those roommates of mine, gifts from God, came after several close friends finished their time at school and moved away. With the shift of that season I found myself needing friendship more than ever. And just like that, with a conversation in a hallway, with a message on a housing board, and with the friend of a friend encounter, four of us became wonderful friends. (They were each bridesmaids in my wedding. THOSE kind of friends.)
I could keep going, telling of all the seasons in between then and now, and how each and every time God provided friends, but I think you get the point. The best way to make friends is to pray for them. And then trust that God knows what you need in every season and that He will give you them. Most of the time the friends I ended up with came about in ways I couldn't have orchestrated. #90%prayer
BUT - don't forget about the 10% effort. While God orchestrated lots of random meetings that turned into friendships, none of them came without a little effort. I feel like something that has been lost in our generation is art of intentionality. The art of pursuing. [I do not think the word "pursue" should be solely confined to the context where in men pursue women]. Ya'll, we gotta pursue our friends!
If you want friends - drum roll please - go BE one! Listen, I don't know a single person who doesn't want to be pursued. If you want a friend #1 pray for one, but then #2 go find a person who looks like they could use a friend and be theirs.
Take them out to coffee. (And buy it for them).
Ask them questions about their life. (How they grew up, what they love to do, who they want to be).
Find a way to bless them. (Bring them chick-fil-a for lunch at work. Or something else if they're vegan).
Do something practical together. (Go grocery shopping together, DIY a coffee table, whatever).
Ask them how you can pray for them AND actually do it.
I'm sure I'm stealing this phrase from someone out there, but to make a friend you've got to be a friend. Intentionality goes a LONG LONG way in making friends.
Sometimes I have to write these things as reminders to myself. In every new season (moving, married life, motherhood) I have to trust God for friends. I have to remind myself that He always comes through. So here it is for me, and for you:
Be content where the Lord plants you. Know that as friendships come and go that some are just for seasons and some are for decades. Let your requests be made known to God, trust Him for the friendships you need in your season and stage of life, and wait for Him to show you what to do. Do the prayer, do the effort. God will give you exceedingly and abundantly more than you can ask or imagine. Amen.