I’ll be the first to admit that I haven’t always been the best friend that I could be. When I was a teenager, I would lie to my friends and tell them that I had to watch my 14-year-old sister just so I could stay home and play video games. I rarely went to my friend’s sports games or their play performances. I was home, wasting time staring at a game screen or maybe out skateboarding. This created a huge comfort zone for me. Even the most innocent of parties or get-togethers use to make me anxious. Fast forward to now. My girlfriend and I spend a LOT of time together (because I love her) and we are both very happy with life, but we both felt something missing. That’s when we decided to be more intentional with friendships.
“Would you be down to go to Ben and Anamaria’s house for dinner this week?” I looked at my girlfriend like she had six heads. “Who?” I asked. She was referring to some old friends of hers I had briefly met a couple years prior who wanted to reconnect. “Yeah sure, that sounds like fun,” I said, smiling at her. I could tell she wanted to do it. However, internally I was freaking out. I barely know these people and we’re going to their house? I felt a twinge of anxiety, but told myself it would be better than sitting around and playing video games or watching Netflix. Needless to say, it was. I had a blast and we loved getting connected with another couple. We started going to church with them and hanging out with their church family. Now, we go to a minimum of two different houses each week to hang out with other couples and chat about our weeks, discuss what we’re walking through in life, and bond.
Baylee and I had to get out of the house and actually make the effort to go to that first dinner. Every week we make the effort to drive over to a friend’s house together and take time out of our days to spend it with them. We purposely talk about things that matter and share with each other about life because we’re all experiencing it together. Just this past week we met up with Ben and Anamaria again, whom we now consider close friends, and went to the park. We sat down and talked about work, their new baby, finances, and life in general. Ben and I goofed off and hung some hammocks over a lake (much to the park rangers chagrin) and we had a great time. We have to get out of the house and be intentional about spending quality time with other people we care about.
Part of being more intentional about friendship is being more supportive to the people in our lives. Everyone has his or her thing. You have a friend starting a small business, creating content on the web (like this blog), or pursuing some hobby that they really enjoy. Everyone needs a little support. They want to feel like people appreciate what they’re doing. This is hard to do sometimes because we are so focused on ourselves. We think about our thing instead of what our friends are doing. Some of the most engaging conversations that I’ve had recently started with a question about how insert friends endeavor here was going. You see your friend’s eyes light up and suddenly a torrent of words start pouring out of their mouths. All their passion is displayed in front of you and you feel like you are entering in to their own little world. It’s extremely entertaining.
Having a lot of friends is easier than ever. All you have to do is click a few buttons on your social platform of choice and suddenly you and another person, whether they are a complete stranger or not, are friends. It’s next to effortless. You can communicate, share experiences, and keep up with your friend’s lives. You don’t even have to leave your apartment! Is that truly connecting us or is it separating us? After years of engaging in this social network realm (because I too am very guilty), I became uncomfortable with leaving my own dwelling and hanging out with anyone other than the people in my group of 3 or 4 very close friends, only two of which actually live in town. Social networks make it easier for us to connect over long distances and keep up with what our friends are doing, but have they disconnected us from intentional friendship and human interaction?
What would happen if you just stopped going on social media? Would you spend that time with friends in person? Would you get your status updates directly from the people you care to know about? I know that cutting out social media entirely is unrealistic. I still use it quite a bit every single day. But next time you’re scrolling through Facebook or Instagram, think about all the people you like to hang out with and ask yourself, “Do I really know how their lives are going?” Have you been intentional in your relationship with that person? Are you putting effort in to that friendship? Let me know what you think about intentional friendship or social media’s effect on it. You can comment below, or on the social media site you found this post on (ironic). As always, thanks for reading!