I keep coming across more and more personalities who are horrified by the notion that they can’t have deep relationships with everyone they meet. Just embrace and welcome all the people into your community, right?
While I have the opposite mindset of just pursuing my core group of people, there is an argument in the middle. You won’t be friends with everyone because…
#1 — You can’t be friends with everyone
Human beings are infinitely complex, to the point that our efforts to explain ourselves—more often than not—can be caveated or are relative in one situation or another. There are just too many facets, shaping influences, and variables to the equations we are.
Our finite minds do not have the capacity to store that much information for more than a handful of people. Therefore, we physically cannot have deep, soul-probing relationships with every person we come in contact with. It’s just too much.
“A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.”-Proverbs 18:24
Now, we are called to be friendly and loving to all, but your closest companions have to be a select few. The people you say “anytime” to, the people you know everything about. Those who are a stride or two ahead of you and you turn to for help.
To have 2-5 close friends who are committed to taking on life with you is an infinite blessing. Pursue them, love them, stick with them. You will glean more from them than you imagine, and they will sharpen you into the best version of yourself.
#2 — Some “friendships” are toxic
In the fallen, broken world we live in, there are some relationships with certain people that will drain the life out of you. Everything pure, lovely, bright, and happy will wither on the stem, and you will find their company to stir acidic, bitter, hard feelings within you.
These are not the people you should pursue a reciprocal relationship with. They will bring you down with them and leave you worse off than before they came along. Beware of their company. Be courteous, but do not let them into the heart of your life.
If you find that someone who was once a really good friend is now a source of poison, do everything you can to redeem the friendship. Forgive and ask for forgiveness, seek outside counsel, pursue open and transparent conversations, but also be honest when you need to leave.
You cannot change someone’s heart. That’s God’s job, not yours. If you have humbled yourself and done your part but they’re still not having it, the deceased friendship is probably not a problem to be solved but a truth to be accepted.
But make severing ties the absolute last resort. True friends don’t give up on the other, so pursue until you find they have gone too far down a path that following would be detrimental to you as well. At that point, it’s out of your influence and in God’s hands.
#3 — You’re not “doing life” with everyone
You will grow apart from some people. Think about high school, college, or some sort of camp. You leave the experience exclaiming, “Let’s keep in touch!” But you go your separate ways and eventually lose contact. That’s because you’re not “doing life” together.
Unity comes from eating the same food, consuming the same media, and doing the same things together. The people who are aligned with you in those regards are connected to you in a molecular, intellectual, and social way. You are gaining life from the same sources, but not everyone shares that alignment.
We go to different schools, work different jobs, and volunteer in various places. With the amount of effort it takes to manage those schedules, it’s hard to connect with those outside of our social circles. So we lose touch.
Your closest friends will naturally operate in the same realms where you do life, and/or they will be quick to jump in. You may be proficient in different areas but under the same larger umbrella where your paths naturally cross. You will naturally share the ins and outs of day-to-day life.
Remember, we are called to be friendly and loving to everyone, but we will not and cannot have deep, cultivating relationships with every soul we admire. Welcome everyone with a warm embrace, but do not spread yourself thin trying to accompany every social interaction.
The best results often come when we can pick a select few areas—or people, in this case—and go deep. Identify your inner circle and pour into them, invest in them. Though the group may be smaller and more focused, the ripple effect to others will be immeasurable.