- Tabitha Caplinger
How To Make Friends
Actually I don't really know how to make friends. Like, I don't know the five or ten or twelve steps a person should take to locate a potential friend and get them to be your friend. Really I don't think there are specific steps involved at all. The process is either much simpler or much more complex than that.
What I do know is...
1. We all need friends. We are built for human interaction and relationship. We need people in our lives who see us, love us, accept us, encourage us, motivate us, challenge us, and support us. If they also obsess about the same TV shows and chocolate with us its a bonus. (That's a shout out to you my bestie. You know who you are.) We are not meant to do life alone. God has friends in mind for you, good friends, friends that will be there for you and help you become the person He wants you to be and do all the great and wonderful things He wants you to do.
2. Our friends influence our futures. The people we spend our time with, seek advice from, rant to, cry to...they hold sway in our lives. That power can either bring us to a better place or a worse one. Our friends can either be the people that draw us closer to God and our dreams or pull us further away. They can plant seeds of encouragement and empowerment or doubt and negativity. So we need to be wise in choosing our friends.
That seems a little weird right, the idea of choosing our friends. I mean its logical, we didn't create them with a chemistry set in our basement...hopefully. But too often our closest friendships aren't intentional, there wasn't a choosing but rather a happening that brought us together. We didn't take resumes and hold interviews to make sure we were compatible. One day we were just friends. Most friendships are happy accidents.
In the third grade there was a girl in my class that I didn't get along with, from day one we were at odds with one another. I can't for the life of me tell you why. But she didn't like me and that meant I didn't like her. About the third day of third grade she made me cry on the playground and then I'm sure I said something back that made her cry. Again, I don't know why, what happened, what she said, what I said. In the end it doesn't matter. I cried and then she cried and then our teacher pulled us aside and made us apologize to each other. Every day thereafter (for at least 3rd and 4th grade until I moved to a new school) we were best friends. That makes absolutely no sense. But really that's how a lot of our friendships are. We weren't friends and then we were and we don't really know why. But we liked them and they liked us and we like some of the same things so it made sense. Its a wonderful anomaly.
But sometimes its not.
Sometimes that illogical friendship is also not a healthy friendship. I don't mean abusive or controlling. Though that is very bad. What I mean is sometimes we become friends, best friends even, with someone who isn't bad but they aren't good for us. They pull us off our course. They don't mean to, they aren't trying to but they do. And we let them because they are our friend. But maybe they shouldn't be. Not like that anyway. Maybe they can be someone we chat with in the halls or over a lunch table. Maybe on occasion we go to a movie. But they aren't who we rant to or cry to or seek advice from. They are in our outer circle of acquaintance but not our inner circle of influence.
We should be intentional with our friendships.
No matter how the relationship started we need to ask ourselves if its good, if its the kind of friendship that is going to get us where God wants us to go, if its good for us. If the answer is no we need to set boundaries. How strict those boundaries will depend on how far off track we might get pulled. This is hard because we don't want to hurt people but keeping someone from influencing you negatively doesn't mean you can't allow yourself to influence them positively, to be there when they need a shoulder or a hand.
For those who are saying well thats all well and good but if I do that I won't have any friends left. My friends aren't perfect and they might not be helping me grow but they are all I have. I submit that they don't have to be all you have. Be intentional about finding a new friend, a good friend, the kind of friend who's influence will get you to new and better places. Pray for God to bring you that friend and then open yourself up to seeing them because they may look different then the picture in your mind. And most importantly, to have good friends you have to be a good friend. Be the kind of friend you want.
Some of the best friendships may start as happy accidents but with a little intentionality they can become the stuff of legend. Like they will write songs about you and books and Lifetime movies. Okay, that's a little far, but they will become the friends you have for a lifetime, no matter the distance between you, they will be the people you can count on...not just for bingewatching and chocolate obsessions.