I met my best friend when I was four years old. I don’t remember much about that time of my life, but I remember that important moment. I remember the room at the daycare where we met. I remember the color of the walls. I even remember the toy I was playing with when he came over. Sometimes there are moments in life that never leave you. This is one of them for me.
Over the past twenty years, we’ve gone through a lot together. We’ve had seasons where we were on good terms and others where we were not. We’ve had seasons where we lived together, and others where we would hardly see one another. Yet even if months go by, we can pick up like no time has passed.
Something special happens between two people that only time brings. It can be hard to put into words. It’s a stability and safety. Not only is this found in our personal relationships, but also in our communities as well. In my own experience, the communities I stay rooted in for long periods of time tend to bring the richest fruits to my life.
It’s possible for relationships in your life to be like this too.
The honest truth, is that there is no way to make strong, time-tested relationships overnight.
They take lots of work,
some arguments and frustrations with each other,
LOTS of laughing,
a lot of praying together,
and of course, they take time.
Maybe you’ve never had the chance to experience a friendship or a community like this. Maybe you’re new to the area, and you’re still trying to establish yourself. Maybe you're in a season of transition in your life, and even your community is held loosely. Maybe things have been rough in your friendships lately. Maybe it’s been weeks. Or months.
Maybe it’s been years.
I found myself in a place like this not long ago. I knew I needed something more in my friendships, but I didn’t know where to start. I had to believe that my relationships could grow deeper. And they did. It was a beautiful process to watch my relationship with my friends develop over time.
Don’t rush the process. Here are some ways that we can develop our relationships with one another:
- Don’t let bumps in the road make you jump ship. All relationships, friendships, and communities hit rough patches. Life is filled with ups and downs. Navigating them is how we move forward and how we grow. If you’re in a bit of a rough patch, hang in there! Working through difficulties and strife with others can be an incredibly bonding, fortifying experience.
- Never write anyone off (especially right away!). As humans, it can be really easy to shy away from people we view as different than us. Without even realizing it, we often discredit people from snap perceptions. Some of my best friends are people whom I wrote off or discredited at first. People are complex and difficult to fully grasp. People who have been married for decades are still learning about their spouse every day. You never know who God will bring into your life, or what those people may be like.
- Take a moment to appreciate where you are at. It can be easy to get caught up in all the negatives of our current circumstances. Gratitude, no matter our circumstance can help us to zoom out and see the bigger picture of what God is doing. The Apostle Paul said that he found how to be content in every situation through Christ. The same is true for us.
Time and life experience have forged several strong friendships in my life. I have been through difficult times with all of them. In some way or another, they all have seen me at my worst. They've watched me grow and learn. They've seen me in moments when I'm at my best. They know how I think. They know what makes me angry. They know what I am passionate about. There's been a lot of investment and time in these few relationships. The result is friendships and a community that has done so much for me. It has not only enriched my life, these people have changed my life.
If you find yourself desiring for a greater level of depth and relationship in your communities, your friendships, or even your Lifegroups and Lifeteams, don’t worry. Just give it time!