Growing up in Illinois my friends were like my family. I am an only child with two parents. The only family that I saw were in Maryland and Virginia and I only saw them once or twice a year. As a result, I felt like I had no one I could really vent to and talk about things except my friends. My friends growing up helped me deal with all of the sickness going on with my family. I looked forward to all the sleepovers or even just the bike rides that stretched out far beyond the city limits. One of my friends from those days reminded me of the impromptu back to school/birthday bashes that I held every year. It is kind of funny how I still do that to this day.
This weekend I celebrated my 31st birthday with friends and family. It was truly one of the best birthdays I have ever had from start to finish. There by my side my two besties were there, as usual, walking , eating, laughing, and drinking with me. My best friends are like my sisters. They are as important to me as my family. We have seen each other at our best and our worst and still live to tell the tales. They the are people who lift me up when I am down and the inspire me to my greatness. They guide me on my journey, but let me make my own mistakes when I need to. I am so blessed to have them in my life.
I had a friend once who told me that his friendships are in tiers. Meaning, that there are different levels of friendships for his friends. The higher the tier, the closer the friendship. At first I was annoyed because I felt as if I should have been in the top tear, but I hadn't reached that yet. However, years later I still remember this discussion. He was right, friendships do have different levels. I consider myself to be a very outgoing and friendly person. I can make new friends easily. But my true friends are the ones that I consider to be the people who I hold to a different standard.
My friends and I sometimes have the conversation about how other people survive without friends. I don't believe that God made us not to have friends. I mean even Jesus, who was perfect, had his own crew. The past few days of reading The Purpose Drive Life, have been focused on fellowship. To me fellowship and friendship are the same thing. Although, some may say that fellowship has a spiritual component, I don't feel that having different spiritual beliefs is a barrier to fellowship. In fact, when I looked up the definition for fellowship on Dictionary.com, one of the definitions is "companionship;friendship".
Back to the book, the author explains to have a fellowship you must: share true feelings, encourage each other, support each other, forgive each other, speak the truth in love, admit our weaknesses, respect our differences, not gossip, and make group a priority. The author writes later that a fellowship is giving away selfishness and independence and replacing it with interdependence. Do your fellowships look like this? Do your friendships looks like this? Maybe it is time for an evaluation. Maybe you put your friends in this category but your friendship lacks some of these characteristics. Or perhaps you realize you have friends who are like this with you, but you don't exhibit all of these qualities yourself.
Why not look at your friendships today? And if you realize how important your friendships/fellowships are to you then tell them so. Your friends with thank you for it :)