Love as the friendship how-to

“When did we start needing a guide on friendship?”

This is my thought when I finished reading an article on Millennials and friendship posted on a popular Christian webzine.

Okay, first of all – I’m about over this whole “Millenials” thing, because I fall squarely within the definition of a Millenial, and because I’m tired of being treated like I don’t know things. I’m educated, and I’m a human being who has lived a life with other people in it – I know things.

I understand painting us all with a wide brush, I really do. Most of us are asking a lot of questions about God, and who He is, and what it looke like to love like He does.  We are wondering if there’s a different way to be in the world than as Republican-voting, black-and-white thinking, Western evangelicals who live in big houses with our husbands and our kids, hating abortion and gay marriage.   Okay, maybe “we” aren’t, but I certainly am.  What if there’s space for feminism?  What if I can get behind the politics of a Democrat or even a Libertarian? Or what if I don’t care about politics at all? And what if I think maybe there is room at the Cross for a homosexual to settle down next to me, praying to the same God who has redeemed us both?  I mean, I’m not sure, but I’m thinking just maybe God’s grace is enough to cover us both.

We are leaving churches and joining churches.  We are staying single and getting married. We aren’t having kids and we are having kids. We have jobs and bosses and bills to pay. We shop at Target or Whole Foods or CSAs, and we all at some point feel spread way too thin.

So maybe we’re asking some hard questions, but really, our lives don’t really look all that different than anybody else’s, whatever label you want to give them.

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Now, can we take just a moment to talk about this friendship thing?

Let me be clear, I’m not taking issue with the tips that were given.  In large part, they’re good tips – Be authentic; Be vulnerable; Forgive easily; Put in the time; Remember birthdays.  People, I find, generally like to find all of those things in the people that they call friends.

But, why the heck do we need this “guide” in the first place?  And why the heck do we think Millenials are the only ones who need to be guided?

We’re all adults here, and I’d like to know when we became people who needed to be told how to be friends with other adults?  Maybe it’s just me, but I’m thinking there’s a chance we’ve overcomplicated things if we need to be told to remember our friends’ birthdays, or to be honest with them, or to spend time with them.

So then, what I’m thinking is that maybe we need to agree to do away with the how-tos and guides. Because there is only one thing you need to have a meaningful friendship:

Love.

Love your friend.  Stop thinking so much about how to be a good friend, and love your friend.  There’s no magic formula here, no fifteen tip how-to, no guidebook worth following.  Love your friend, and let the love you have for that person determine how you behave.

Does she need you to babysit, so she can run out and get a haircut? Then babysit.  Is she having a bad day at work and needs a text message that will make her laugh? Then send a text, and try to sound like Gloria from Modern Family when you do.  Does she have a crazy work schedule that makes it nearly impossible to find the time for dinner that doesn’t come from a drive-thru? Then cook.  Is she having a bad break-up with a boy who didn’t treat her nicely?  Then go over to her house in your pajamas, and bring wine.

Every situation is different.  Every person is different. Every friendship is different.  So, we need to realize that there is no one right way to do this friendship thing.

Except maybe just to love each other.  We should definitely do that.

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