Real-Life Spotters - Part 3
Part 3: Make it Happen
The question of how to cultivate community is quite daunting at first. How the heck do you make a step by step list for making friends? The answer is far simpler than you might first suppose; you don’t! Building community starts with something simple like, “Hey! Do you want to grab a drink after work?”
It Takes Intentionality
It’s important to realize that community doesn’t just spontaneously happen; it takes intentionality and work for a group of friends to form, grow, and thrive. You need to actively choose and then pursue. ‘Stay on target!’ Intentionality shows how much you care, which helps build trust.
That intentionality spreads into every aspect of making friends, from choosing friends, to choosing what to do and how to do it. Be thoughtful about who you share your life with, and be thoughtful about making sure that the activities and conversations you will have are leading each of you towards Christ.
You Can’t be Friends with Everyone
There are quite a few articles/essays about friendship. The consistent theme among them is that, mentally and emotionally, humans can only handle a small number (varies between 2 and 5) of close, or “best”, friends. These are the friends you trust the most and the ones you confide in. But outside of the “inner circle” you have a series of concentric circles filled with other friends and acquaintances. These people are just as important and they need you too! But, do not expect to have 10, 20, or 30 best friends; it will destroy you.
We can look to Jesus for help in what this looks like. He was able to love and touch the lives of every person He met, but yet His group of friends was only twelve people big. Within His group of twelve, He had three closer friends (Peter, James, and John), one of which being His best and most trusted friend (Peter).
If you are just starting off your community, look for two people that you can invest in.
You Have to be Vulnerable
Building up the courage to ask someone to hang out can be just as nerve racking as asking a girl on a date. But, it does not need to be! Nonetheless, it requires an element of going out on a limb and facing the possibility of rejection. Take heart! More often than not, the person on the other end is looking for a friend too.
The vulnerability doesn’t stop at ‘hello’ though. A budding relationship will demand that as trust increases, so too will vulnerability and being able to share more of who you are.
It Will Take Time and Effort
Friendships take focused effort and patience, just like the same qualities needed for rock climbing. You need to focus on your knot tying, make sure your weight is shifted correctly, lift with your legs, and if you rush a step too quickly, you may miss a grab or choose the wrong route which can result in catastrophic failure.
I struggle with the patience piece in that I want to dive right into meaningful conversations. I also get impatient when my best friends and I have not had a deep conversation in a while. I need to remind myself that we are living life and not all of life is full of difficult or deep conversations. Being able to chat about the weather or what happened at work is important. I need to remember the little things matter too. Every once in a while, it’s necessary to take a breather and to enjoy the view while you climb your route.
Friendships take a different kind of time and effort as well. You will need to prioritize and make time. I find myself making plenty of excuses about how busy I am doing this, that, or the other. But when it comes down to it, it’s a lack of effort towards these friendships that causes them to weaken or fall away.
Community at times, can feel overwhelming, and quite frankly sometimes you might be feeling a little anti-social. However, community is a place to lift our spirits higher, to help us get outside of ourselves, and to give the support, love, and direction we desperately need.
As Saint John Paul II said “to be human means to be called to interpersonal communion,” and it is through this communion we are able to reflect the image and likeness of God in which we are created.
Yes, we are built for community, now let us take it in stride and reflect as perfectly as we can that likeness.
In His strength,