The Beauty of Intentional Friendships

Something I’ve been discovering lately is how much I need intentionality in my friendships.

Up until pretty recently, there were friends I saw three or four times a week without even trying. I had church twice a week, plus one or two co-ops, and there was a lot of overlap between the groups.

But then I graduated. Now I don’t go to co-op anymore – in fact, I end up being at home most of the time, except for church and Friday night Bible study. I don’t see my friends quite as often – in some cases, rarely.

And then there are the friends that I haven’t seen in a year or more. The ones that live in other states, sometimes all the way across the country.

My friendships aren’t by default anymore. When I was at co-op for several hours every Friday, it was easy to spend time together. But now we have to actually put effort into it. Most of my friends don’t drive yet (and neither do I). And my default reaction when I have free time is to sit down with a book – not to spend time with other human beings.

All of that doesn’t mean friendships don’t happen anymore. Just that we have to be intentional about it. We have to plan times to get together. We have to check with parents on both sides, make sure it works with schedules, and that we have rides there and back.

And I think that’s actually a good thing. If you care about something, you work for it, right? And the time we do spend together is more special because we had to actually plan for it. We have to be intentional about the relationship – that makes it stronger.

How do you do that? It looks different for everyone. For me it frequently involves Starbucks (coffee dates are a stereotype that I embrace wholeheartedly). We plan times to get together and work on school – or just talk about how God is working in our lives and encourage each other.

For a lot of my friends, it involves email or text or writing letters, or even the occasional video call. While I don’t keep up with long-distance communication nearly as well as I’d like to, it’s beautiful that we can maintain friendships in such a myriad of ways.

We’re called to Christian fellowship – to building up one another and encouraging each other with the truth. While that can definitely happen in the 20-minute cafe time each Sunday, I think it also can (and needs to) happen during the rest of the week. But that kind of godly friendship doesn’t usually happen by accident. You have to remember to text that friend – and then actually do it. You have to sit down and write a letter, and address it, and physically walk to the mailbox and put it in. You have to work out the logistics for hanging out and work around schedules.

But it is so worth it. How do you work to build those relationships?

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