Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Choose friends, or just take who comes along?

This is what friendship looks like in magazines, doesn't it? Or on Clean & Clear commercials. This is a snapshot of me and my friend Rachel, taken on Daytona Beach a couple years ago. I'm the one with my head thrown back, laughing like a hyena at who knows what. I remember there was a middle-aged guy in a G-string sunning himself not far from where we were, so maybe Rach had just pointed him out to me.

But I digress.

As a freshman in high school, my Uncle (who was a Pastor at the time) asked me to contribute to some magazine distributed to Southern Baptist teenagers. My topic was, "How should I choose friends?" I had about 200 words to respond.

I remembered thinking it should be easy. I've always been a girl who's fallen in with the "good crowd." And even on the occasion that I hung out with a few edgier friends, I somehow became the token good girl in the group. Like a mascot or something.

So I sat down to write my short article. Since it was for a religious publication, I figured I should make it Biblically based. I started off talking about how we should choose friends the way Jesus chose disciples. But then it occurred to me that Jesus wasn't exactly picking people for sleepovers and movie dates. He was picking disciples. People who would carry on his work after He was gone. Plus, He'd picked Judas. And surely He knew Judas would ultimately betray Him.

And then there's the pesky fact that Jesus often hung out with "sinners." Adulterers, tax collectors, and so on.

Basically, I wound up writing myself in a circle, saying something like, "Choose like-minded friends, but don't be afraid to hang out with people who aren't like-minded. Just make sure you're influencing them, not the other way around."

It was about 12 years ago when I attempted that article. Since that time, I've gone through 4 or 5 best friends. I've been betrayed and back stabbed. And I have betrayed and back stabbed.

Around age 20, I was finally blessed with my first close, Christian girl friend. I thought, "This is it. This is the friendship I'll have for the rest of my life." Five years later, even though we were both Christians, even though we both desired to live lives that honored God, we wound up in a nasty spat and our friendship disintegrated within an hour.

So I'm really not the best person to offer advice on friendship. (Boy advice I'm qualified to offer - my husband rocks!) But it occurred to me the other day that maybe there really isn't a proper way to pick who your friends are. Maybe the best way to do it is just love on the people God puts in your path, be the best friend to them that you know how to be, and not worry so much about if you have an appropriate balance of Christian and non-Christian friends.

But I'm still figuring all this out. What do you guys think?

Stephanie Morrill


Cecelia Dowdy said...

Friendships are indeed strange. I've noticed that as I've gotten older, I don't connect with people as much as I did when I was younger. I'm not sure why, but the desire to "get together with
friend(s)" just doesn't appeal to me much. It could be that after I married, had a child, still worked a stressful job, wrote books, etc., it just zapped all my energy. It's hard to find true, lifetime friends. I think those are rare!

Emii said...

In my 13 years, I've gone through a a few best friends -- but that's because my family and I have moved quite a lot. Some of the friends I made are still friends -- and my best friend will always be my best friend, I hope. When we moved here, God blessed me with some totally awesome, Christian girls -- I mean, what are the chances of that, coming to a new school and everything? ...but it's tough, moving away from your best friend. I really miss her. Here, we all hang out together. I really miss having a best friend -- someone you know will sit next to you, or be your partner in an activity or whatever. Without a best friend by your side, there's always those doubts.

As for fighting... I don't think I've ever actually had a fight with a friend. I don't know, I guess I don't really see the point. I don't like fighting... ;) There's been little things, but nothing really drastic or anything..

Stephanie Morrill said...

Cecelia, I totally understand what you mean. Now that I'm doing the whole mom/writer thing, it's really hard to find time and energy to develop deep friendships.

Emii, don't fights suck? I'm with you - I just don't see the point. Obviously there will be disagreements with people we're close to, but I'm a big fan of just getting everything out in the open, apologizing for what needs to be apologized for, and moving on with life. Sometimes it just can't be that easy :(