Lately, I have been thinking about my friends.  Last Christmas brought cards  from all over.  There were cards from my two best friends in high school, several cards from my college friends, and cards from people I was close to when I was in my 20’s at my first church.  All of these people have been an important part of my life.  Just how important are friends, past, present, and future, to who we are?

As a child there was nothing better than having friends with whom to play, laugh and explore.  New things with a good friend added to the excitement of the moment.  From the friendships of childhood, I learned that having fun with friends is one of life’s great joys and I wanted to make sure that I always had pals to experience life with me.

Friendship becomes much more intense as we live through our teen years.  The greater heartache was the betrayal of a friend.  Friendship became more complicated and transitory.  Friendships I had as a child didn’t usually make it into my teen years.  We went different directions, didnt have as much in common, or had outgrown each other.  As a teen I had various groups of friends at school, at youth group, at my job, and in my neighborhood all vying for my time and attention.

For me my college friends were steps above the rest.  We spent so much time together living in dorms, vacationing, working towards that graduation date, and struggling with the responsibilities of adulthood that it was inevitable that we should become very close.  I count these friends as blessings.  I was at my worst and best with them and they loved me unconditionally.

So what kind of friend am I now?  How are my friendships as an adult, as a church worker, as a woman with a family?  Is friendship harder now that I’m all “grown up”?

For various reasons it is more difficult to make friends now.  With children, a husband, a career, and all that goes with those things I don’t have much time to develop friendships.  Yet I count as my friends my husband, my children (when it is appropriate), and those that I work with.  I also count my extended family as friends.

As a church worker I can count my staff as friends.  They are an encouragement because we share a common faith and commitment to working for God’s church.  Together we are able to laugh at ourselves and find humor in the joys and struggles of ministry.  I have solid friendships with youth workers all over the United States.  It is always so good to see them.  That’s why we go to conferences, isn’t it?  As a church worker I am the recipient of God’s blessings of good friends in Christ.

God created us to be in relationships.  Friendships are important to our emotional health.  Friendships can come in all shape and sizes, there is no norm.  Jesus had friends from all walks of life.  I need to seek out friends from outside the church.  Since everyone of my friendships have blessed me and helped shape me into who I am today, I pray that in turn I am a blessing to my friends.

What about you?  Have you been thinking about friends lately?  May you be blessed with good friends and a lifetime of laughter and love with them!