Over the years, since the late 1990's when I discovered the Internet, I've made friends on-line with whom I corresponded on a regular basis. I never met these ladies in person, but discovered them on various on-line forums because of our shared interest. These on-line relationships, however, did not last for more than a year or so before one of us lost interest in the connection (usually me). Now I'm on Facebook, Twitter, and have my own Blogs, one of which is this one. I've made several friends through these media and have corresponded privately via e-mail with several of these ladies. For various reasons it has been easier for me to make friends in this way. Some of the reasons over the years: I did not work outside the home so I had less opportunities to meet people; I was a much older Mom than many of my children's friends' mothers and therefore did not always fit in; I did not have common interests with most of the people I did meet; my husband retired (no explanation needed ☺). Some of my friends have died or moved away. Growing up I was the one who always did the moving away, so I had to make friends quickly or not at all. As an adult I found I was skittish about making friends because I didn't know if I was capable of maintaining them for a lifetime. To seek to make a friend and then drop them felt unkind to me, so I rarely initiated friendships.
As I think about it, the fact that I've been married to the same man for 45 years must indicate I'm capable of having a long-term relationship. So what's the difference? For me, I found that the time I spent connecting with my friends was never constant and regular like in a marriage. My friends had their other friends and activities, their own families, etc. When we would reconnect it always took me awhile to warm up to them again. I have found this to be so even with distant family members who do not keep in regular contact with me. I've long known I need to bond with people in order to be more than just an acquaintance. Bonding means both sides need to fit together and something needs to hold them together--mutual interests, commitment--the result being togetherness--time spent with one another.
I do not think I am alone in this matter. People are too busy in activities that preclude togetherness. It used to be women often did their work together--like quilting or canning. Men made their friends working together, too. Adult siblings lived close by as did the parents. They lived in smaller communities and saw each other often just passing by or sitting on their front porches in the evening. Even people who lived in larger cities often had neighborhoods that banned together in block parties or common activities. Now we go everywhere in closed cars. Everything is automated. I can go to the bank, buy groceries, get gas and never speak to a living soul. And we don't build houses with front porches anymore--although, I am seeing more and more new houses built with porches. Is that an indication that people are noticing their need for interaction with people? That machines and devices just do not suffice? We are isolated because of our lifestyles, not because of social media. And, of course, personality comes into play. If you are outgoing, you will draw people to you. If you aren't, you'll go unnoticed.
Scripture tells us about the greatest Friend we can have--Jesus. He said to His disciples, "...I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you." (John 15:15b) Because of what He did for us, we have the Holy Spirit who can guide us into all truth now (see John 16:13).
Earthly friends are nice to have and make life that much more enjoyable. They give us an opportunity to love and be loved. But never forget that even if it seems you haven't a "friend in the world" at times, your Greatest Friend is always right there to offer you His love.
Father, thank you for the friends I have, but most of all thank you for my Greatest Friend!
Link to scripture: Psalm 23