How many friends do you have? I mean really good friends. The kind of friends with whom you can be completely honest. You share inside jokes together that nobody else understands. You feel free to be complete dork with them, knowing they won’t judge you for it. Or you can go to them when life hurts, knowing that they’ll help make it better.
I recognize that I’ve been very blessed in this part of my life. I attend a pretty large church, so I have no shortage of people around me. On any given weekend I can find people to hang out with. And if not, then my roommates and I can usually instigate something.
It’s kind of funny, because I remember before I moved to Carbondale I was really anxious about leaving all my friends from high school. They were the friends I’d had since Kindergarten and we’d seen each other through all the highs and lows of grade school, middle school, and high school together. And I had an even closer group of friends who had been there with me when I turned my life over to Jesus and walked me through the early steps of my walk as a Christian. The idea of starting from scratch was super scary.
Even as I got to know more and more people in Carbondale, I still missed my high school friends. I even started wishing that they would come down and join me in Carbondale and I was pretty confident that my old best friends would get along great with my new friends. What if I got them all together? It would be amazing! I started imagining my mega circle of friends. It’d be like my own BFF-Avengers. (Friend-vengers?)
That didn’t happen obviously. Life takes people in different directions and we have to work to stay in touch with them.
Lately my network of long distance friends has grown even larger. A bunch of my closest friends moved to different states last summer to start new church plants. I’ve also met several writers who I’ve stayed in touch with, but live stretch across the country.
Again I find myself wishing that I could just reach out to all my friends from Connecticut and Pennsylvania and Kentucky and Colorado and California and consolidate them all here where I am. Cause, heck they’re all amazing people. I’m sure they’d all get along great!
But alas that’s not how it works. For one, trying to horde friends just backfires. Where would I find the time to spend with all my Superfriends? The “Friend-vengers” theory also has the fatal flaw because it assumes that the kind of friendships we truly desire can be manufactured by people.
What I mean is this, my best friends, the people who I love the most, are not the ones I might have chosen. Nothing I did in particular caused these deep friendships to come in existence. They just kind of happened. I remember standing in line at a grocery store with my friend John and thinking “I think here with my best friend.”
To steal from C.S. Lewis , on the topic of friends “a few years’ difference in the dates of our birth’s , a few more miles between certain houses, the choice of one university over another, posting of different regiments, the accident of a topic being raised or not raised at a first meeting – any of these chances might have kept us apart. But for a Christian, there are, strictly speaking, no chances. A secret Master of the Ceremonies has been at work. Christ, who said to the disciples ‘Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you,’ can truly say to every group of Christian friends ‘You have not chosen one another but I have chosen you for one another.’”
In the same way that God chose out for me friends like Joyce, Abigail, Wyne, Sara, A.J., Casey, Chris, Nicky, Sarah, or Kayla (and oh so many more), he also chose that we would be physically separated at some point. Why? Maybe because He has plans for us elsewhere. Or is it so that we would not grow too comfortable here on Earth, that our hearts would yearn all the more for Heaven? Very likely it is a mix of all of them at once, plus more reasons that He has yet to reveal to us.
So keep that in mind the next time you grab coffee with a friend or head to Applebee’s with some people for half-priced appetizers. You’ve not chosen those people. They are there for a purpose, put in place by a God who knows what He is doing.
If you feel like you don’t have anyone around you, I’d simply suggest that you pray and ask God what his thoughts are on the matter. He has not made you to go through this life alone. You never know who He’s going to put in your life when you’re not looking.