Day 21: No Friendship Will Ever Be the Same

Recently, I wrote about why I don't have a best friend. To date, it is in my Top 10 most viewed posts of all time. And this is a post I wrote only two months ago! Obviously, people care about best friends. I have had such positive feedback and conversations with people, outside this blog, about this post. They have shared their own personal "best friend" stories and hurts with me. I realize more than ever, how much people care about relationships. And even more, how much I am not alone.

If I were honest, the topic of friendships still causes discontentment in my heart a little bit. And with only 10 days(!) left in this blogging challenge, I felt like it needed to be addressed.

While I do feel like my "best friend" post summed up a lot of my feelings on labels and titles and why I avoid them in friendships; what I failed to discuss is how grateful I am for the good friends I do have and how you can never replace or replicate a relationship no matter how hard you try.

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I moved from Alabama over a year and a half ago. I remember the excitement of moving back home to Florida, Josh getting a great position at a wonderful church, and the reality of being closer to family. This will be the easiest move yet, were my exact thoughts.

What I didn't realize, at least not completely at the time, is how much I would miss my friends.

I only lived in Alabama for three years, yet it felt like I grew up there. Because, in a way I did. It was the first place I lived as an adult, out of college.

Being in college drastically skews your relationships and view on friendships. It's like an extension of high school, with more freedom! You make friends with your roommates, your classmates, those who have the same degree as you, those who play sports, sing in the choir or are part of the same "sorority/fraternity." If we're being honest, you have to put in very little effort to make friendships in college. 

But then you graduate. You leave the cushion of having someone to hang out with every night. And you get in the real world.This is when the real test begins.

You are faced with people of different ages, different backgrounds and different beliefs than you. Relationships become intentional. You have to actively seek them out.

This is what I faced in the few years I was in Alabama. I struggled and prayed for about a year before I really began to make close friendships. I remember for awhile just feeling left out of every stage. Stuck between the "college kids" and the "new moms,"  I was still immature and thought I needed friends who were only in my "life stage." Instead of taking the opportunity to see who I could learn from and who I could pour into. Eventually, God allowed me to form some great relationships with women in several different stages of life. And my heart was so full.

Just as those relationships were really blossoming, God called us to move.

We moved when I was 20 weeks pregnant. On top of now having to start over in the friendship department, I was about to be a new mom. When Micah was born, I wasn't sure exactly how to be a mom and a friend at the same time. I had so many questions about motherhood and didn't feel comfortable just asking anyone the answers to them. I grew more and more discontent as I began to long for the women who held my hand and cried with me, while I was praying so hard for this child.

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It took me another year, but I've finally asked God for the cure to this kind of discontentment in friendships.

No one friendship will ever be the same. 

I was trying so hard to fill the void of relationships past. I wanted someone to make me laugh the way that "so-and-so" did or listen the way that she did and on and on. When I stopped to think about it, I realized that this whole issue of comparison is probably one reason girls have such a difficult time getting along. How can I claim to love everyone and yet, be so selective when it comes to friendships?

We are called to love. Period. Not to love a certain person more, better or best.

That's what inspired my "best friend" post and that's what continues to inspire my heart every day. 

This world will never get over it's fascination with friendships and besties, but that's not the call of God. The call of God is to love, equip and encourage each other. When one falls, to help another up. Like I said before, "These friends exist plurally, and the only way to make them is by being the kind of person who shows love unconditionally, to anyone, without favoritism."

I will never be able to replace the friends I've made in Alabama, but the truth is I'll never be able to replace the friendships I've made and am continuing to make here.

This post is part of a series I’m writing for the month of October entitled “31 Days of Being Content.”  See all other posts in this series by clicking hereOr enter your email address in the sidebar on the right to subscribe to this blog and receive posts straight to your inbox!

eCouragement.

Quick, I want you to think of three of your closest friends at the moment. Got them?

Now raise your hand if most of your interaction with these friends is through text message or social media? (I see you... I'm raising mine high too.)

For me, two out of three of my closest friends at the moment are out of state. So I have no other choice but to use social media to connect with them. (Not like I wouldn't be using it anyway though, I mean hello... this is me we're talking about)

But the truth is, social media is just as much a form of communication, in our culture today, as giving someone a phone call or writing them a letter. And it's probably the next best thing to being face-to-face. If you're reading this blog, I don't need to explain that to you. You're here, connected with me, through this little space.

There is a great sense of community I feel from people who interact with me online, on a daily basis. The likes, the comments, the tweets. The ones that say, "Hey sister, I'm praying for you!" or "Hey girl, you really ministered to me through that song you shared today!" Some days, these are the only words of encouragement I may hear (or see) from someone other than my husband.

But while I have developed a real sense of community with a lot of you reading this, there is a huge, HUGE part of me that longs for this same community offline.

I have taken breaks from spending time on social media. I've turned off all notifications on my iPhone so I'm not distracted by the constant alerts. But the fact is, I keep going back to it. Because a lot of times what I find here is more encouraging than what I find out there.

This burden has been on my heart for awhile now, and I've been struggling with how to put it exactly.

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>>> As a society, we've dropped the ball when it comes to encouragement. <<<

Sure we're good at flattery. "I love that outfit!" "Your hair looks great!"

But, honest, genuine, encouraging words are only found in my (facebook, email, twitter) inbox or text messages these days.

Why is it so hard for us to give (and receive!) compliments to people face to face? Have we become so comfortable hiding behind our virtual masks that we just assume that it means the same thing whether it comes from our lips or in 120 characters?

Like I said, I love love love the encouragement I receive online. But if we leave the building up of one another to the computer screens, then aren't we also leaving ourselves open to receive discouragement online as well?

After all, if our encouragement is as shallow as a comment or like on a photo, then wouldn't the lack of a "like" or "comment" be the equivalent of discouragement?

You see where I'm heading?

Our worth is far more valuable than the likes we receive and as believers, I believe our calling to encourage goes far beyond just a text message.

Give someone a compliment today. Let them know you are praying for them. And really, genuinely do. Encourage someone in an area they are skilled at. Take time to listen to someone share what's on their heart.

And one more thing, give them a hug.