According to the always trusty Internet, today is apparently Friendship Day! Friendships are truly one of God’s greatest gifts to me, so I’m always down to celebrate the ones in my life. In today’s post, I think I’ll reflect a little bit on what true friendship has come to mean to me.
When I was younger, my dad was fond of telling me the common saying “To have a friend you must be one.” As someone who made friends easily and never lacked them, that phrase fell on deaf ears. But as I’ve gotten older, that phrase has become somewhat bittersweet to me. During my teenage years, my family moved around a lot, and combining that with the fact that I was homeschooled meant my friend count dwindled.
During this very rough time of life, that saying of my dad’s almost mocked me. How was I supposed to be a friend if there was no one in my life for me to befriend? I became very lonely and bitter, and my self-esteem dropped wayyy low (which is something I’m still struggling with to this day). It got to the point when even I did start to meet people and make connections, I began to assume no one would even want to be friends with me. I felt ugly, awkward, and worthless.
But during junior year things really started to turn around for me. God brought an insanely amazing group of girls into my life via my youth group small group. For the first time in what felt like forever, I found a group of girls that I felt like I could just be myself with. I didn’t worry about them judging me for my looks, or being turned away by my awkwardness; they just genuinely loved me for who I was, flaws and all, which was a real turning point for me in understanding what true friendship is.
Most of these girls left for college when I started my senior year of high school, leaving me once again feeling alone and confused. Why would God take away something from me that was so good and building me up so much? Well, I think this was to teach me two lessons:
1) You don’t need friends to be worthy. For someone who struggles so much with self-worth and feeling less than, this was a tough but necessary lesson for me to learn. Not having a group of friends for so long took its toll on me, and seeing so many other girls being popular and surrounded by friends made me think something must be wrong with me to not have that as well. When I finally was blessed with a group of friends, I clung so tightly to them that they became my sense of worth and identity. Without them, I felt useless once more. So I truly believe God took them away (not permanently, because I know some of them will always be in my life) to nudge me and say “hey Maguire, your friends are not what make you worthy.”
“It’s Me who makes you worthy.”
It’s in God alone that my true and lasting identity and worth can be found, which is something He taught me through this experience, and is continuing to teach me every day.
2) True friendship is centered on God, not myself. Over the past few years, I’ve made countless acquaintances, only a few of which have blossomed into true, lasting, and meaningful relationships. I often wondered what that special ingredient was, but it wasn’t till senior year that it clicked. Sure I was I missing the fun and laughs that came from being around my girls, but mostly I found I was missing the growth and strengthening that came with those relationships. With some of these girls, our bonds went beyond something superficial, and the reason we were able to love one another despite our countless differences was because Jesus was at the center of our relationships. We weren’t in these relationships to get something out of it for ourselves; ultimately, these relationships centered around growing closer to Christ and strengthening one another in our walks with Him.
As I move forward into college and begin making new friendships, I know without a doubt that I want my most meaningful bonds to be made with girls who will point me to Jesus and encourage me in my relationship with Him. Those will be the friendships that stick.
So these are a just a few of the thoughts on my heart today on Friendship Day (which I’m still not entirely positive is a real thing – I’m trusting you here Google don’t let me down). I hope they’ve been impactful for you, no matter what your situation is friend-wise. And whether your cup runneth over with friendships, or if you feel like that cup is a little dry, remember these words from Proverbs:
“A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a Friend who sticks closer than a brother.” ~ Proverbs 18:24
And of course, never forget that to have a friend, just be one.
You are loved,