Coffee dates. Panera lunches. Inside jokes. Class schedules. Movie nights. Bonfires. Long talks. Texting. Book swaps. Sleepovers. Sharing clothes. Favorite TV shows. Advice. Bible studies. Walking with God. Learning and growing. Doing life together.
Have you ever noticed that a true, strong, rock-solid friendship takes time to develop and grow? Sometimes I feel like I search so much for just one good, solid friend--you know what I mean. Someone who understands how I think; someone who has the same convictions and morals that I do. Someone who doesn't live their life flippantly, but rather lives with purpose for Christ. God has blessed me tremendously with several close friends. Is this number large? No. In fact it's rather small. Outside of my sister (who can read me like a book!), I have a very small group of close girl friends. But this small circle knows me--inside and out. They help me grow and learn. They challenge me. One of my closest friends is reading through the Bible with me this year. At the end of the day we both know that we are going to hold each other accountable & ask if we read that day. We talk about what God is showing us as we read & ask each other questions. It is refreshing. Two of my closest friends can also read me like a book. They know where I stand in my convictions and standards and tell me when something's not best. I love that. It rejuvenates me.
It is really easy to rush into friendships, share everything in your heart with that other person, and then get burned in the end. I think of these "friendships" as Short-Cut Friends. This type of friend isn't really in it for you. It's all about her. Ouch. Yeah, but we all know what this looks and feels like. How do you know if you are investing all of your time in a short-cut relationship?
- Does your friend play tennis in conversation? Meaning, does she ask you questions back? Or do the conversations revolve solely around her? If this is the case you probably won't get good advice or accountability in your own life. There needs to be a good balance--both of you sharing and learning from each other, not a one-sided deal.
- If your friend has a boyfriend, does it feel awkward when the three of you hang out? Do you feel the pressure to have a boyfriend if you don't have one? When you are with her and her boyfriend, does it feel like you are being excluded?
- Does she challenge you in your walk with Christ? Or are the conversations centered solely around drama, drama, drama? Which do you think is healthier?
- Did your extremely close friendship & calling each other bffs seem like it happened overnight? If so, take time to slow things down. Really get to know your friend. As you get to know each other, you will obviously grow closer to each other and you can help each other grow. A good, solid friendship takes time. It doesn't happen overnight or through short-cuts.
Forever Friends are quite different. These are the kind of friends that won't last simply from January to May. Forever friends last a lifetime. These are the girls that you graduate college with, plan your wedding with, share baby showers with--do life with! What are the signs of a forever friend?
- Does she have the same mind-set as you? This is so important. If she doesn't share the same values as you, then how could she challenge you to grow? For example, let's say you are waiting for the right guy to come along & your friend currently has a boyfriend. She obviously wants you to be happy too. So you both are walking on campus one day and she spots a guy she knew in high school. "He is so hot! You two should totally go out!" Warning signs should be flashing in your head. What does she know about his character? There is much more to starting a relationship than good looks. Rather, a friend with the same mind-set as you would understand that you are waiting for God's perfect man for you & just let you be comfy in that. And if she knows a guy of great character she could definitely talk to God about him for you!
- Does she challenge you in your walk with Christ? Forever friendship is about much more than lolly pops and butterflies. Forever friendships are meant to last. Someone who pulls you closer to God has your best interests at heart. If your friend is running towards God with everything she's got and encouraging you along as well, why wouldn't you want to spur each other on for the rest of your lives?!
- Do you feel like you can truly be yourself around her? This is extremely important. You can't put on a mask around someone who is going to be your forever friend. Can you hang out with her in sweats without a trace of make-up on or do you feel like you need to impress her? If so, then you might want to check your friendship status. You should be able to be genuine around her.
- Did your friendship happen overnight or did it develop beautifully, like the awakening of a budding rose? You see, a rose takes time to grow and then when it finally buds and opens up, it is beautiful. If you were to try to rush it, the flower just wouldn't be as pretty or able to survive as well. The same is true of our friendships. Make sure you let them take time to bud and grow. Guard your heart. Be careful in what you say. Girls can be vicious. Really get to know your friend and earn each other's trust before you open up your full heart to her.
- Have you talked to God about her? I have found in my own friendships that the ones that are lasting are the ones that I bring into the thrown room of Christ. I lay these girls who are so precious to my heart before Christ and ask Him to be the protector of our friendship. As I have done this, I have found that my friendships with my forever friends has grown even deeper. If you don't find yourself praying for your friend(s) or your feel yourself just getting wrapped up in "them," then it might be time to check and see if they are truly a short-cut friend or a forever friend.
Friendships can be tricky. They can be sticky and messy and sometimes pretty painful. Sometimes you may pray for a friend and really believe that you will be forever friends and then all of the sudden she changes. Yes, life happens. But we need to trust God no matter what anyone says or does to us. While friendships can be painful, they are also extremely rewarding. They require you to take a risk--really get to know someone. Sometimes it requires you to be a lion-chaser. At the end of the day, it goes back to you and God. Are you seeking Him with your entire heart & are you learning how to be a forever friend?