It’s true that deep and meaningful friendships are often formed while doing everyday life together. But if doing life together is the only basis for friendship, what happens when life changes?
My friend Jackie and I met 31 years ago. Two newly married 20-somethings from opposite coasts who found themselves working together in Miami, Florida. We could have been co-workers for a couple of years and then forgot all about one another. Instead, we’ve remained dear friends through a multitude of life’s seasons. Five children (two for her, three for me), multiple moves (mine), the loss of a parent (hers), a divorce (mine), marriages (both of our oldest children) and many other milestones.
Milestones that will continue as we stay connected through phone calls, visits, emails, and texting. Jackie was with me the night before my son Andy was born, and she traveled from South Florida to be at his wedding last week. After watching Jackie and her husband Patrick laughing and celebrating with me, Andy remarked, “Jackie and Patrick are the kind of people that friendship is made for.” I couldn’t agree more.
With Jackie and other precious friends I’ve made through the years – from Portland to Ft. Lauderdale, Dallas to San Diego – I’ve learned the importance of being intentional about the friendships I want to keep. Some are just too precious to let something as trivial as 2,600 miles, eight states, and three different time zones interfere. So no, technically we don’t “do life together” anymore, but our friendship is deep and lasting – because we are intentional about keeping it that way.
Friendships that stand the test of time require us to be intentional in and out of seasons.
Most of us, through moves, graduations, job changes, or any number of other reasons that cause us to “move on” have in our memories the friendly faces of people who we once shared life with. People we remember fondly and wonder where they ended up. Sometimes, I’ve been hurt when one of these friends slips out of my life. And sometimes, I’ve done the hurting. But we grow to understand that some friends are only for a season.
The truth is that it’s rare to find anyone who is still best friends with someone they shared graham crackers and crayons with in Kindergarten – unless of course, the person you are speaking to is six or seven years old. But we all understand the treasure that lifelong friends are to us. Friends who will never let you take yourself too seriously because they remember what your hair looked like in the eighties.
Some friends never slip away. The magical ones. The friendship unicorns. What makes these friendships last?
I believe it’s because they hold on to you and don’t let go. Through the thick and thin times of life. They let you know they think of you often, with generosity and kindness. That’s a message the folks we care about need to hear from us, even if they live across town instead of across the country.
So that is our challenge as life goes on and the seasons continue to change. To reach across the lines we all draw in our lives – schedules and routines that make sense out of our days – and be intentional about building relationships with people you want around for the long haul.
Don’t let doing life together be your final determinant of who your friends are. Friendships built on doing life together are lovely and special. But friendships forged with intention, those that require us to make time in our busy lives for more than just those who it’s convenient to see, those are the bonds that will last through every changing season.
How are you intentional about building lasting relationships with friends in your life?
Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up. (Eccles. 4:9-10)