Recently, I had the opportunity to re-watch the second Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, and one thing stood out to me. During a key scene in the film, one of the girls complains that the relationship of the four friends has gone down the drain, and been reduced to “one or two e-mails a month!” Her implication was that because they could never see one another, their relationship was dying.
I remember smiling at that point, because growing up in the country, most of my friends were pen pals, and then later, when computers became more convenient and popular, e-mail pals. I have had friends in California, in Florida, in Ireland, in England, and fifty miles away—all connected through an intimate form of communication known as e-mail. We keep our friendship strong through e-mails, scheduled chats, cards through the mail, and little “I am thinking of you today” packages.
All of this has helped me to realize that friendships are a two way street, and it doesn’t matter how busy you are, how far apart you live, or what your lives are like, so long as you make time for the people you care about. In order to have a good relationship, a few things must come into play:
♦ The other person must value the relationship as much as you do. (You should not be the only one calling, e-mailing, sending cards, or arranging time together.)
♦ You must be committed to respecting the other person even when you disagree with them. If you don’t agree on politics, don’t talk politics. If you don’t like the same kinds of movies, don’t try and interest the other person in what you like. (This is hard for me, because my taste is so awesome everyone should love what I do!)
♦ Both people must be interested in the other person as an individual. Do not set out to change your friend. Let them be who they are. Yes, they will say and do things that bug the heck out of you, but that’s part of them! The world would be so boring if we were all the same!
♦ Share responsibilities. One of you should not do all the hosting, but also act on your instincts. If you are thinking about someone, pick up the phone and call them—even if you were the last person to call. If you see something they would like, get it for them, or make sure to tell them about it.
You might think it’s hard to keep or make friends. It’s not. Most people are just as hungry for relationships as you are. They would love to come share a cup of tea with you and some pumpkin bread on a Saturday afternoon. They would like to watch a chick flick with you. It’s no different for guys. Go hunting or fishing together. Carpool (or should I say, truckpool?) to a tractor show. Invite like-minded people over to watch political debates, or an interview that interests you. Making friends is not hard, but keeping them takes a little bit of work. It takes communication, and interest.
Friendships can be for people next door or overseas. The same mentality qualifies for both. Attention, interest, forgiveness, acceptance, and fun. The greatest joys come from surprising my friends with things. Little trinkets in the mail, a voice mail they aren’t expecting (usually of the, “Oh, I just saw something in a shop I know you would love!” variety), or an invitation to just chill for a couple of hours and watch a favorite movie together.
The New Year is a great time to think about opening up your heart to new people. God may bring some extraordinary individuals into your life this year. Don’t be afraid to reach out to them, to invite them to lunch or to see a movie together, or bring someone new along on your next outing. You may even make a lifelong friend.