Monday, March 13, 2017

Friendship In Real Life: Food for the Soul

Friendship is an area of my life that has changed so much over the years. Understandably, my needs have changed; from needing a partner for skipping rope to someone to talk to about homework questions and boys to someone to go out dancing with to now really having the desire to be heard and challenged, the roles were all different. It does seem that these relationships were much easier ten years ago and whether I can attribute that to the rise of social media, my marriage, having three children, I'm not sure, but it takes a lot more effort now. My soul craves deep friendship. Yes, I have my husband and we work on a playful friendship as an important ingredient in our marriage but often life is heavy and we aren't feeling so...friendly. I crave female companionship with a larger dose of empathy and compassion. I have been blessed with wonderful friendships but I do need to be more intentional about fostering them.

How many friends do you have? How many REAL friends–you know, ones that would show up at your door if you asked for help? I get that distance can be a problem, but that aside, how many? We get this false sense of community when we depend solely on social media. There is such a difference in the fulfillment between face-to-face compared to a Facebook feed. The most fulfilling social interactions of my week are ones in which I am one-on-one with a friend or small group; whether it's a church coffee group or a book club, there we are face-to-face in community.

I have been reading God in My Everything: How an Ancient Rhythm Helps Busy People Enjoy God (which I highly recommend) and have been reflecting on Chapter 7 which is called Friendship: Companions for the Journey. The author Ken Shigematsu talks about a study that started in 1937 in Harvard which tracked 268 men over seventy years called "What Makes Us Happy?". What did they find? Their greatest satisfaction came from relationship with family and friends.

A great friendship can often alleviate the pressure we feel in our lives; the burden is lifted off of our shoulders and heart. Not only that, but Shigematsu points out that it " not just something that makes us feel better; it's a gift that helps us become better." We don't need someone to always tell us that we're right–we need someone to offer us insight and help us be the best version of ourselves and encourage growth. Proverbs 27: 6 talks about how the wounds of a friend are better than the kisses of an enemy.

Don't get me wrong, I have been able to keep in touch with great friends and meet some new ones through Facebook and Instagram–people who have encouraged and supported me as I experience new aspects to my life journey. However, Shigematsu likens filling up on social media, which can leave us feeling "unpleasantly full", to junk food for soul. I know that feeling and that descriptor hits home. 

A great idea mentioned in the book is to meet with a friend and ask: "Since we met last, what have been your joys and sorrows?" Now that is the kind of conversation I want to have with all those I love. We do a version of this with our kids each day, the highs and lows, but I would savour a conversation like this with friends too.

Let's make time for real friendships.  Invest in the ones you have and get together. Try to find someone that you can relate to that can challenge you.  And now I ask: What has been your joy and/or sorrow this week?



  1. I have been having similar thoughts about social media lately. Face to face is so important and so much more genuine. I love that we can catch up once a week (at least). Cant believe we are missing our time tonight!!

    1. Gary's going to try to fill in for you tonight, we'll see how it goes! I appreciate the effort of you driving here each week (and parallel parking!)