Friendship is one of those things that we all experience. When we go into new environments, innately, we work towards building new friendships. When we find ourselves in different stages of life, naturally, we look for like-minded folks we can connect to.
Some of those people remain with us on our journey for a lifetime—some, only for a season.
Over the last 30 years, I’ve learned a thing or two about friendship. Your perspective on friendship and the effort that you put into working on these relationships can impact your life in such a significant way.
Here are 5 lessons that I’ve learned:
1. THERE ARE LEVELS TO FRIENDSHIP
I used to have this one-dimensional idea of friendship. I had the same expectations for every friend, which led to one disappointment after another. What I learned is that there are levels to friendship. As harsh as it may sound, I had to learn where people belonged in my life and label them appropriately.
The disappointments come when we have misguided and mislabeled our friendships. Not everyone deserves the same level of access to you. Learn the difference between a friend and an acquaintance.
2. SMALL CIRCLES CAN BE THE MOST POWERFUL CIRCLES
Despite what it may seem like on Instagram and Facebook, it’s better to have 5 solid friends than 5,000 social media ones. As a teenager and even in college, having more friends felt greater than having a handful of quality friends. In my mid-20’s, after countless disappointments, my circle started to tighten, and I began to discern who was for me and who was not.
These days, my inner circle is small, but they are the ones that run in when the others run out.
3. FRIENDSHIPS HAVE SEASONS
Like anything in life, there are seasons to friendships. In some of my longest friendships, we have seen each other through dating and heartbreak, new careers and transitions, celebrations, and grief. In some seasons of friendship, you are pouring more than you are receiving. Others, you need the receiving while others pour.
Pay attention to the strength of your friendships as the seasons change. What is the temperature of your relationships when you’re in the flourishing season, and they’re in the valley? If you feel the strength wavering, it’s worth addressing.
Photography // Thalia Nino
4. SOME FRIENDSHIPS END...AND THAT'S OK
Some of the greatest lessons about friendships that I’ve learned are from people that are no longer around. Ending a friendship can bring some of the most emotional pain that sometimes we hold on to people longer than we should. Sometimes, it’s a case of a toxic friendship. Sometimes, you simply grow apart.
I have learned that not everyone is intended to go with you into every stage of life. Some levels you will just not reach with the extra baggage of dead friendships. Lean into your discernment. God will make it clear to you those “friends” that you need to let go.
5. I CAN ONLY BE A GOOD FRIEND TO OTHERS IF I AM A GOOD FRIEND TO MYSELF FIRST
“Love your neighbor as yourself” How I treat others is a direct reflection of how I treat myself. To be a good friend and even be in the position to receive friendship with others, I’ve had to evaluate how I felt about myself. I can remember the times I didn’t feel good about myself. Things people said to me were filtered through lenses of insecurity, jealousy, and ultimately inadequacy.
Putting God first will help you love you and see you through His eyes. Only then will you have the capacity to really love and be loved by others.