I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you. -Psalm 119:11
“The heartfelt counsel of a friend is as sweet as perfume and incense.”
Genuine friendship is a beautiful gift (Proverbs 27:9). It is tested and true that a “friend loves at all times…” (Proverbs 17:17). With great thankfulness I’ve come to realize that I am a product of the quality friendships that God has given me.
However, as I grow older, I find that it gets harder for me to establish friendships and I wonder if I am the only one. I see the depth of friendships established in my youth that have endured to the present. When I reflect on the effort, time, and vulnerability it took to develop the deep understanding we now have, sometimes my heart is unwilling to invest that much into something or someone new – especially with no guarantee of reciprocity.
A year and a half ago, I got married and moved across the country to California. It was an exciting, yet a challenging time. Because I was used to moving around and finding myself in new communities, I thought the adjustment would be easier. After all, I had witnessed God’s faithfulness to me in those “new” places through the beauty of new friendships. But this move was different and to my surprise, it wasn’t easy. In fact, with the other dynamics I was adjusting to, I felt the heaviness of not having the familiarity of friends even more.
I found myself slowly leaning towards the mentality I told myself I would never adopt: “no new friends.” I was just tired of having to start over. I didn’t have the strength to try. As real and true as those sentiments were, I’ve learned that it shouldn’t define how we approach friendships as we get older, especially as Christians.
Our lives will be full of transitions that lead us into new places, new communities and meeting new people. But if we subscribe to the “no new friends” mentality, we will miss out on the richness of God’s purposes through friendships in every season.
In tears, I brought all those emotions and realities before the Lord. And in prayer, He revealed to me the ways in which all of those emotions were rooted in fear because ultimately, my pride was getting in the way of trusting God.
Fear told me that I will never have friendships where I felt truly known in this new community. My pride believed it and told me to lean on my own understanding on how to navigate that fear, which was this: Just don’t try to connect with others. Keep them at surface level. What’s the point of putting myself out there? Just maintain the friendships I have, even if they were 3,000 miles away.
You see, “no new friends” is a mentality that says I would rather stay in the bubble that allows me to be comfortable. I would rather keep from being known by others that God has put on my path in new seasons because that makes me feel like I’m in control.
We dismiss the command of living a gospel-driven life when we keep certain people to ourselves and keep others away. Letting people into our lives is an implication of the gospel. Openness to new friendships is one way we “let our light shine” (Mt. 5:15-16) and “love our neighbor as ourselves” (Mark 12:31).
The world may say, “keep your space and keep your comfort.” But God’s Word shows us that our lives aren’t meant to be kept to ourselves. We are to live in the beauty of community-His church (Hebrews 10:24-25, Romans 12:4-5, Acts 2: 46-47, 1 John 1:7), and to love and know those around us, including those outside the church. We are to be known in whatever new place we find ourselves. We can find encouragement. We can find counsel. We can find growth-all important work of sanctification and conforming to His likeness. Most importantly, we will find opportunities to live out and speak out the good news, to ourselves, to new friends who are running after Christ and new friends who are running from Christ.
While we can and should choose our friends wisely (Proverbs 12:26), I believe there are those that God chooses for us even if we wouldn’t choose them ourselves. His ways are higher than ours and the dynamics of friendships differ in every season. I’ve learned that I don’t have to hold onto the idea that it has to look like the other friendships I have. There is wisdom in diversity.
Living out a gospel-centered approach to new friendships takes work, but God is ultimately the one who started the work and will be faithful to complete it (Phil 1:6). After all is it not God who works in us to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose? (Phil 2:13) If you are at all like me when it comes to new friendships, know that it will take time, but that God will give us the patience. It will take fighting the flesh to keep from being fearful and prideful, but know that the Holy Spirit will give us the strength.
Friendship is a beautiful means of grace the Lord gives. May we not lean on our own understanding. My prayer is that we trust the Lord in this area because He knows what we need more than we do. May we submit every fear and pride that keep us from experiencing God’s good plans through friendships.
Praise God we can be free from the #nonewfriends mentality.
The weekly devotionals seek to encourage you to dig deeper into Scripture as you take the time to daily read, meditate, and internalize the verses in the devotional, along with the passages provided below to give greater context. Take the time to read them throughout the week (repetition is important) and ask the Holy Spirit to help you grasp what God is showing you about Himself, about you, and how to live in light of these truths.
Passages to read/memorize/meditate:
1 John 1:7
Questions to Reflect on: