Perhaps the most impactful lesson the pandemic has taught me has been about friendships.
I have this vivid memory. I was in 6th or 7th grade, and we had just moved to a new town. I was excited to have been making a lot of new friends at school and was chattering about it to my dad. We were sitting around a fire and he turned to me and said
“Now listen. I want you to hear this. It’s not about how many friends you have, but about the quality of those friends.”
This has never been more true than when the world around us is going insane and we find ourselves in need of people to keep us grounded. I’ve also found myself in need of those people who cheer us on and lift us higher.
There’s a saying that you become like the 5 people you spend the most time with. If this is true, we should be choosing our friendships just as carefully (if not more) than we choose other things in our lives. It’s in our nature to crave community, and to find our place in a tribe. A tribe keeps us safe, but finding your place in a tribe also gives you purpose and meaning. Finding your place gives you the opportunity to flourish and grow and bear good fruit, so you can then lift up others who need to find their own place.
Let’s be cautious not to, in our pursuit of belonging and community, try to fit ourselves somewhere we don’t belong. God created you for a purpose. Don’t waste your life trying to strip yourself of what makes you unique and effective just so that you can feel like you are “invited.” Maybe, just maybe, you were born to lead, not follow. Maybe you were created to make other people feel loved and welcomed. Jesus was not welcomed in his own home town. If you’re not welcomed into the group of people you thought you knew… maybe it’s your job to go somewhere else, and be like Jesus to those people.