Sometimes friendships just don’t go the way we want them to.
Person A met Person B through some common friends, and they connected over shared love for music and sports. A few weeks later, they watched a football game with some other friends, and planned to do the same for the rest of the season. A and B even followed each other on social media because they enjoyed talking about the game stats, new bands, and such, even if they weren’t seeing each other in person.
Over several months, or maybe a year, Person A looks at his relationship with Person B and wonders why he still feels something is lacking in their friendship. They’re two guys who hang out, have a shared group of friends, and enjoy the same things in life. So why did there seem to be a disconnect, even though they’d connected as friends so easily?
C.S. Lewis wrote this about friendship in his book, “The Four Loves”:
“…Those pathetic people who simply ‘want friends’ can never make any. The very condition of having Friends is that we should want something else besides Friends. Where the truthful answer to the question Do you see the same truth? would be ‘I see nothing and I don’t care about the truth; I only want a Friend,’ no friendship can arise – though Affection of course may. There would be nothing for the Friendship to be about; and Friendship must be about something, even if it were only an enthusiasm for dominoes or white mice.”
Friendship must be about something outside of the two friends, because people change. They may not hold to the same will of remaining friends if it becomes less easy to be in relationship with one another. When there is a common interest, both parties can meet in the middle and proceed in friendship because the focus is on the common interest, not on ensuring the sustainability of the friendship.
The One Thing Every Friendship Needs
I’m going to take it a step further.
Every friendship requires action.
It’s one thing to have a common interest with someone. It’s an entirely different one to be actively, purposefully digging into that interest with another human.
In modern society, many of our daily interests can be rather sedentary. Let’s be honest: it’s easier and more comfortable just to watch TV with someone, or have a brief, shallow conversation about things that don’t really matter. And lots of our friendships happen indoors, on chairs and couches, or driving around town for some Starbucks or to see a movie. Even worse, we think a lot of our friendships are strong because we spend time communicating with them on Facebook. If we see their Instagram post, we know how they’re doing that day – no need to ask how things are.
So what do we do in an immobile, easygoing friendship culture?
We must take action, and it must be action taken together.
If you want to be the best friend you can be, you must sign out of Facebook and get off the couch. Deep, impacting friendship doesn’t develop the most through the computer screen or the living room.
Substantial relationships are built through fixing a car engine together, playing football together, hiking mountains together, exploring hard truths together, and helping other people together.
Friendship does, not just observes.
The best friendships display their brilliance when they move from talking about a shared interest to actually doing the shared interest. And through acting on that shared interest, you will find many more interests to explore and do together.
In a way, life is a series of friendships. And we are impacted by these relationships, for better or worse. The road to the best, deepest relationships is found when we don’t just have friendships, but do friendship.
How do you put your friendships into action?