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Today I Was a Friend

Today I was a friend. 

I am often friendly, but today I was a friend. 

What’s the difference? In my opinion, there are many. Being friendly is easier; it’s basic social engagement. It involves a kind smile to the stranger you pass by, small talk with the cashier, interacting with the people in your life positively. It can be passive, a response to a stimulus from another person. Being friendly does not go deep. We have several of these interactions on a daily basis. Being friendly is the basis of being a “good” person and submitting to societal norms. 

Being a friend is much more involved. It takes great action. It requires us to be vulnerable. It is selfless. It uses time and energy; a lot of it! It is repeated social engagement with the same person over and over again in which trust must be passed freely between parties. It involves risk. Perhaps most challengingly, it shows us a reflection of ourselves.

I am not proud to admit that I have spent very little intentional time being a friend. In school, my closest friend changed with every semester and every class based on who sat in the desks around me. Each year my friendships would change based on proximity. As an adult, I have seen this trend continue. My strongest relationships outside of my marriage are the co-workers I see regularly and those in my workout classes, groups, and activities. But when the class is over, the work day ends, and we go home, the friendships cease, too. 

I see this trend, and I don’t like it. I don’t want it to continue. So what do I do?

I adjust my expectations. I am not selfish or self-centered, but for much of my life my ability to see beyond my current self has been limited. I like people, and I am friendly, but I haven’t spent much intentional time and energy being a friend until recently. It’s like something clicked in my brain that said, “It’s OKAY that friendships take effort. It’s OKAY that you don’t see your friends every day. It’s OKAY that the friendship looks different now than it did when you were in closer proximity.” 

There are a few people I have fostered stronger friendships with that have lasted beyond our physical time together. Upon coming to this realization, I have begun to change my expectations around what I think a friendship should or shouldn’t be. The result:

Today, I was a friend!

I actively pursued relational growth with those in my life who I have been close to at one time or another, but don’t live near me now. I reached out! I texted! I called! I was a friend. I want to be a friend. I want to be supportive. I want to be encouraging. I want to be a good listener. I want to see beyond myself and nurture social ties that last the rest of my days. 

I don’t want to just be friendly. 

I adjusted my expectations of myself, and I was a friend.

Thanks for making this a part of your day!
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2 Responses

  1. Hi Hannah,

    I can relate to your comment about friendships changing based on proximity. As I get older, I recognize the importance of maintaining relationships with the people I have chosen to have in my life. It is more work than I anticipated, but it is worth it, isn’t it!

    Have a blessed day.

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