My vintage camera clicked as my friends and I huddled together for a picture. Polaroid cameras were popular when my mom was young. She thought I was crazy for wanting one now, but I was fascinated by its technique and development process. The camera spit out a darkened film that slowly faded into an image of five girls laughing and enjoying life together.
The way that Polaroid works is a lot like our friendship. From the time we knew each other to the strong bond we have today, our friendship took time to grow and develop, just like waiting on the film to show the picture.
You know what really makes that photo so special? How different we all are.
In friendship, our similarities bring us together. C.S. Lewis famously said, “Friendship . . . is born at the moment when one man says to another, ‘What! You too? I thought that no one but myself . . .’”Friendships start by finding common ground.
But unless you are a clone, differences are bound to transpire in your friendships. How you handle the differences between you and your friends will make or break your friendships. All too often, friendships fall apart because friends were “just too different.” With the exception of matters of sin, I believe our differences are actually what make our friendships stronger.
If I Had It My Way, I’d Be Friendless
Have you met people you think would be too different from you? I used to dismiss people who were significantly different than me. I’m ashamed to say I’ve “judged a book by its cover” more than once. Praise the Lord for being gracious, because I’m not sure I’d have any friends if people based their decision on the first time they met me.
When it comes to people you are friends with for awhile, differences will eventually arise. If my friends were too confident, too quiet, too direct, too indecisive, or even too contrasting in fashion, I found myself on the defensive because I didn’t know if I could be friends with a person so different. Tension grew as I realized that if I rejected anyone with a thought or opinion different than mine, I would soon find myself without friends.
I distinctly remember the time I realized I had a choice after noticing a friend’s unmistakable differences. Was I going to abandon her because she acted differently than me? Or was I going to accept her for who she was? It took a humbling and a long time for me to realize that different is not always wrong. And I am not always right.
We Need Each Other
We are created for relationships. In the beginning of humanity, God knew when he made Adam that it wasn’t good for him to be alone, so He created Eve (Gen. 2). Scripture often reminds us that friends are a gift. Paul was writing about relationships when he urged us to walk in the way of Jesus, “with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love” (Eph. 4:2).
Choosing to love and be friends with your friends despite their differences is actually very freeing. It takes effort to have patience when you want to roll your eyes or respond with gentleness rather than frustration. But when we choose to love our friends the way they were made, the burden of control is lifted. We can enjoy their friendship without trying to make them into a duplicate of ourselves.
She’s a Masterpiece
I looked around at those same girls from the Polaroid now gathered at my kitchen table. As we discussed our personality types over pancakes and coffee, I found myself in awe of the gift of our friendship. Our predominant bond is faith in Christ and, while we share a lot in common, we are different people with different passions and personalities that weave together in a beautiful braid of friendship. You and your friends are all works of art, and your friendship is a lovely design, created by the Greatest Artist.
For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them (Eph. 2:10).
What would happen if you see your friend as God’s masterpiece the next time she frustrates you with a different idea or her quirkiness? See her with the eyes of the One who made her. Let’s not miss out on the joy that comes from knowing each of our friends the way God made them.
What is uniquely beautiful about your friends? Let us know in the comments below.