How Do I Make New Friends?

When I was a tiny tot we learned a song in our preface to Girl Scouts (I think I was a Daisy or a Brownie or something like that). You probably know it too: Make new friends, but keep the old ones. One is silver and the other is gold. They didn't tell us which one was silver and which was gold, but the rhyme stuck as it was meant to. 

A question I get often is, "How do I make new friends?" I'd like to send it right back if I could because I don't know how you make new friends and I'd gander it's different for you than it is for me. I am a northerner transplanted in the south, I married in my mid-thirties, I am one of eight children—all male but me, I have divorced parents and am married to a divorced man, I struggle with doubt, depression, and anxiety, I hate living in suburbs or cities, I love my church, I have three lifelong friends all of whom live in different states, I do not have children, I'm a social introvert (meaning I get my energy and am most productive when I'm alone, but can often do that in public places—like the coffee shop in which I'm writing this now).

My point is, my circumstances, history, proclivities, etc. are going to be different than yours and my way of making friends is going to be different too. A comparison between the way you make friends and I make friends probably just isn't going to be helpful—comparison usually isn't helpful in most circumstances. 

It is true that making real, true, deep, lasting friendships is difficult and it takes some serious natural talent or some serious dedication or some strange Spirit-empowerment, but it is also true that making real, true, deep, lasting friendships does not come easily to almost anyone. We live in a seriously transient world right now and the fight has never been harder to hold on to lasting friendships. But the biggest fight we'll have in regard to friendship is the belief that everyone else has it better. 

The older I get, the more aware I am that my days are limited. Not just my future days, but my today days. I cannot manage the sort of deep life-on-life friendships we're sold as the ideal with the amount of people in my life. I have a choice: revamp how I view "friendship" and simply be faithful with the people God has put in my life even if they're not all the "golden" friends I thought I was promised in Kindergarten. Or I can resolutely demand more of my relationships than they were meant to give. I can demand a version of "friendship" the Bible doesn't offer and feel disappointed constantly when real life relationships fall short. 

The "silver and gold" friendships I was told exist: we do everything together. We laugh. We fight. We cry. We're at each others houses every other night. We babysit the other's kids at the drop of a hat. We mourn everything together. We celebrate everything together. We go on vacation together. We go to concerts together. We were bridesmaids for one another. We get pedicures together. We swaps stories and no subject is off limits from our "processing tongues." We sit together in church. We never forget the other's anniversary or birthday. We always know exactly what to get them. We have so much "relational capital" that we know what we're doing wrong before we even do it. We never disappoint one another. We are the other's best cheerleader. We manufacture drama on occasion, just so we have something to get impassioned about. We have our own hashtag on Instagram and if you click on it, you'll see the history of this golden friendship. 

Real friendship as the Bible talks about it: Wisdom is our friend (Get that? Not that our friend is wise, but that wisdom itself is our friend.). Rich people have lots of friends, but the poor few. Gossip separates friends. A friend loves at all times and in all things: they don't manufacture drama, assume the worst, or hold on to resentment. Someone who gives presents gets tons of friends, but someone who is pure in heart and whose speech is gracious is the friend of a king. The wounds a true friend gives are faithful, the kisses an enemy gives are profuse (Yikes!). The sweetness of a friend is in his earnest counsel (his truthful words). A friend is someone who wounds so they can point to the healer, regardless of whatever "relational capital" has been built up. A friend is one who is closer than family.

See the difference? 

In the former paragraph, which is the idea of friendship many of us are given, especially females, it's mostly someone to hang out with and "do life with." In the latter, it's rich with good counsel, loving wounds, purity, graciousness, wisdom, freedom, and love. There's nothing in there about time spent together in quantity or quality, a long history, "relational capital," or common interests.

It is not wrong to want to keep friends or make new ones, but sometimes our idea of what friendship is needs some adjustment. I love a hundred people, but we never get to hang out because we're all trying to be faithful with the things God has called each of us to. My very few closest friends are women I can talk to without having to caveat, explain, or say very much at all, we can offer one another counsel, tears, prayer, or a listening ear. I have never gotten a pedicure with any of them and none of us go to the same church. Our friendships are founded on the principles of Scripture and not some illusion given to us by sitcoms and Instagram stories. 

I don't know very many people (I can't think any) who don't feel lonely. The most alive, faithful, caring, generous people I know, all feel the pangs of loneliness in aching ways. Even the most extroverted person I know, the one with the best marriage, or the one who always seems to be in the center of popularity, is still reckoning with the reality that their soul is still apart from the One who created them for eternal friendship. We live with that reality. We live, aching for the kind of perfect knowing, perfect intimacy, and perfect companionship we know God promises us in himself and none of us will find it entirely here on earth. 

I cannot answer the question "How do I make new friends?" But I can ask you this:

Is your concept of friendship based in Scripture or based in comparison to the friends you think others have? 

Are you being a good friend, as outlined in Scripture, or only desiring it from others? 

Are you able to accept that most people feel lonely, even if they project something different?

Are you a good question asker? 

Do you assume people are generally doing their best, being faithful to what God has asked of them? 

Are you being faithful to what God has asked of you? 

If you can answer all those questions honestly, I think you're on the right track toward making friends. You may not keep all these friends for life—God brings all of us into different seasons and lives for his glory and our good, and those friends may change through life. But I can promise you, if you obey Scripture and ask the Spirit for help, you will find no better friend than God himself and you may begin to see the seeds of friendship everywhere. 

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