I was scrolling through Instagram when pictures of best friends began to flood my feed.
You’ve seen those pictures. They’re mostly fun snapshots of girls laughing and having fun, complete with cute hashtags in the comments – #overlyattached, #girlsquad and #friendshipgoals.
It seems like everyone has a best friend forever – a BFF – except me.
I’ll admit it: I was envious of those girls. I wish I had close friends like that too! Someone I would have amazing chemistry with, someone who would go on random cafe dates with me. Someone to take silly photos with.
I asked God to bring me someone I could trust – someone to relate to. I prayed about it. I intentionally opened myself to people. I waited. And yet the person never came.
I felt confused and frustrated for what seemed like an eternity.
Isn’t God a giver of all good gifts? I seriously wondered why He would withhold this person from me since He was the one who declared it beneficial to have friends who encourage you in life (Ecclesiastes 4:9-10)? It wasn’t as if I wasn’t trying.
In time, when the bitterness had passed – when I came to Him quietly – God revealed this to me: It wasn’t that He hadn’t sent friends my way.
I had simply dismissed the ones that didn’t fit my picture-perfect vision of friendship.
Most of us have an idea of we want our friendships to look like. Mine came from the picture-perfect moments I saw on my Instagram feed. They were so candid and happy. So I based my definition of friendship on what social media portrayed it to be: Candid. Happy. Easy.
I only wanted to invest in people who could make me laugh. People who I felt I had an immediate connection with. I carried this mental list of criteria for potential friends – and I struck off many from the list simply because I didn’t click with them from the get-go.
I had prayed for a trusted friend, but in reality I was scouring my world for quick and easy friendships.
We want immediate connection. We want unconditional love – we want to belong. We want that idealised, final product of what we see on social media.
But social media doesn’t capture the life of a person in its entirety. It captures moments of a person’s life. And that’s just what they are. Moments. What we get at the end is a filtered TL;DR of the thousand things which have transpired unseen.
Friendships aren’t instantaneous and easy. They’re often awkward, especially when two people are just beginning to get to know each other. They’re often a little strange at first, as we shed cordialities – a little bumpy as we figure each other’s sensitive spots. Trust is built … slowly.
In this digital age, we often only see the mountain-top moments. The arduous struggles in the valleys aren’t quite there as much for the world to see. In truth, building a friendship requires effort.
What I’m seeing now is that no matter how high-res a picture-perfect photograph is – it can’t quite capture the rigour behind the friendship.
SWIPING LEFT AND RIGHT
In my search for friendship, I realised that while there necessarily aren’t a lot of people on my exact wavelength – I’ve found many other wonderful individuals.
These people are willing to avail themselves to hear me out. They send me occasional texts to encourage me. They may not be the funniest or the most charismatic, but they really care.
In their love and support for me, I realised this: so what if they don’t fit my 1080px by 1080px frame of what friendship looks like? Maybe I’m glad they don’t – the friendship we have is so much bigger than that. These people are truly worth investing in.
I’m so thankful for these friends whom God has already placed in my life. It’s not true that I don’t have good friends. I had enslaved myself to expectations of friendship based on social media, and ended up missing out on all I already had.
In this digital age, we often only see the mountain-top moments. The arduous struggles in the valleys aren’t quite there as much for the world to see.
I also realised that one of the reasons I felt like I didn’t have a true friend in my low moments was because I rarely took the initiative to be a friend to others.
God encourages us to carry each other’s burdens in difficult times (Galatians 6:2). Was I there for people when they needed me? Was I simply concerned with my own feelings and circumstances this entire time?
I pray we aren’t caught up in choosing best-fit friends, that the friendships of our life aren’t self-centred endeavours.
What if instead of praying to God, “please bring me a friend”, we prayed: “God, help me be a better friend to this person” (Luke 6:31)? What would the world look like if we gave before thinking to receive? I want to imitate how He loves.
I want to love people – even before they’ve loved me.