We started a small group last night. Five couples, just getting to know each other and hoping to develop a sense of community that encourages spiritual growth in our families and personal lives. I am excited, because doing life with people outside of the church building is something Josh and I feel passionate about. Because, that's when you truly get to know people.
I've been thinking a lot lately about what it takes to develop true friendships. Especially because I think as we get older, we tend to get a bit more cynical about relationships in general. We've been hurt, we've been betrayed, we've seen friends come and go in our lives... and sometimes it's easy for us to think that all of it is too much work. Family becomes all we need. Because family never leaves.
But, what if there was a way to make friends who become like family?
I think the answer could be hidden in our imperfections.
We all have them. Yet some of us do a better job than others at disguising them. And you know, I think that's where the problem lies. Because honestly, who feels comfortable around someone who never seems to miss a beat and is always on their "A-game?"
I know I don't.
If you were to come stay at my house for a week, you would learn that I frequently leave dirty dishes in the sink. For days even. You would learn that Cheerios are a part of our bedroom decor, and I probably should throw away the half-eaten banana from my nightstand. You would also learn a lot about my sharp-tongue when I feel anxious or stressed. I'm far from a model housewife.
But you know what? The people who love me the most, know me the best. And none of the above would surprise them.
My husband has seen every part of my character, good and bad, and still looks me in the eyes and tells me he loves me with all of his heart. The friends who have stayed at our house for several days at a time (even one lived with us for an entire summer) are the brothers and sisters in Christ who pray for us, encourage us and treat us like family.
I find it ironic that the people we spend a lot of time trying to impress, usually never end up being our dearest and best.
And it makes sense. Because it's ex-haust-ing always having to make sure you say and do the right thing.
So here's my encouragement for you... don't. Don't try to say and do the right thing all. the. time.
Instead... - Say something stupid and then apologize for coming across wrong. - Forget a friend's birthday and then make it up to them by celebrating a few days late. - Invite someone over for dinner and don't be afraid to make a frozen pizza.
Because in my family, that's how we love.
It's not picture-perfect, and it's not always easy. But it's real. And it's genuine.
And those are the qualities that turn friends into family.