“I am glad you are here with me. Here at the end of all things, Sam.”
― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Return of the King
I love the friendship between Sam and Frodo in The Lord of the Rings trilogy. It’s such a beautiful picture of faithfulness, support, encouragement, and friend-love that is seen throughout their journey. It’s a great picture of what true friendship can be like. Friends are a huge part of my life, and I want to spend a few minutes bragging about my friends. If you’ve met any of them, you would know exactly what I’m talking about. They are supportive, encouraging, prayerful, wise, and dependable. I am pretty much the luckiest girl in the world, and I’m fortunate to have such active friendships in all my circles.
Over the years, many wise people have poured truth and guidance into my life about friendships and how to have healthy relationships. I honestly wish I had learned some of these nuggets of wisdom earlier in life, but I’m working to put them into practice now. One of the favorite truths I hold onto is that God is not interested in my personal accomplishments as much as He is in my relationships. He is more concerned with how well we love one another. I love that the Lord created us to be in relationship with Him and with others, that we were created to not only live “up” but also to live “out.” We thrive on our relationships and the healthiness of them.
As a college minister, my time is not always my own, and I have to really work to create time for my friends. Ministry is often very busy and lonely; therefore, we need relationships to flourish. I’ve learned over the years to put my friendships and relationships in circles. I have an inner circle, second circle, and an outer circle. I really work to prioritize my friendships and recognize who needs to be in which circle. Learning that there are seasons of certain friendships and various types of friends has been a game changer for me.
So, I know it is a big surprise to a lot of people, but my Myers-Briggs Type Indicator is ENFP, and I have “includer” in my top five Strengths Finder, which means I love people and love having them around me. So, for me, the fear of missing out, the fear of not making everyone happy, and the fear of not having a community are emotions that I have to work hard not to let define my friendships and my time. I try to work on keeping the right perspective for the right circles.
It is vital to have security in those friendships, no matter the distance. Time is not a measure of depth for friendships. One of my mentors taught us a little phrase, “Relationships precede tasks,” and, honestly, I must constantly remind myself of that. Friendships need time and attention. Each friendship can and should look different, and each one requires different amounts of time to cultivate, grow, and sustain. The number of friends is not nearly as significant as the depth and connection you have with friends. God wants us to love our friends and to walk alongside them and do life and love well. True friendships are patient, kind, and selfless; they also celebrate each other and rejoice with each other.
My hope for students and for you reading this is that you would fight for your friendships and prioritize and pour into them.
“And I will show you a still more excellent way. If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing. Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful…” (1 Corinthians 12:31-13:5, ESV)
Sarah Farley is the Associate Campus Minister at LSU Baptist Collegiate Ministry. She loves burgers, SEC football, and spending time with her students. Oh, and she loves coffee … a lot.