“I believe that in all men’s lives at certain periods… one of the most dominant elements is the desire to be inside the local Ring and the terror of being left outside. It is tiring and unhealthy to lose your Saturday afternoons, but to have them free because you don’t matter, that is much worse.” - C.S. Lewis
For many of us, friendship is not a subject matter that we often think about. After all, friendship is something that seems to “happen to us”. We like video games, and so does the person down the floor, and so we spend time together playing video games. We like the same television shows or movies, the same types of clothes or styles, the same types of hobbies or parties. Many of us don’t think about friendships too deeply. We just have them.
Looking back at my years in high school and into college I experienced, as Lewis says, “the terror of being left outside.” As much as I wanted to think that I was popular and deserved to be on the inside of the popular crowd, I was riddled with self-doubt and social anxiety. What if I say the wrong thing at the wrong time? What if they expect humor but I am not funny? What if they have inside jokes I do not understand? In those years most of those in my friendship circles consoled themselves about being on the inside, by making fun and belittling those on the outside.
Even the times when I did feel “in”, I wondered if people really knew who I was, would they have accepted me. Am I “in” because I am a good enough athlete? Am I “in” because I am not that much of a bore? Am I “in” because when I drink malt liquor I get so sloppy that I make people laugh? As much as I wanted to portray that I had it together, on the inside I knew I was a mess.
Though the topic of friendship might not be something we often think about, it actually intersects with our deepest longings and desires as human beings. All of us long to be known and understood. All of us desire to be admired and accepted. These desires are normal, and they are good.
Yet, is that all there is to friendship? Are our friends just a means to the end of our own sense of identity and worth? Dare we ask: “How can I not only have friends, but be a friend?” And if Jesus is who He claimed to be, what might He have to say on the matter?
Would you consider joining us Thursday night at 8pm in Independence Hall, for The Pursuit of Friendship, as we wrestle with questions just like these, and explore one of the most important topics that most of rarely think about?