Monday, July 6, 2009

Friends Are What You Like

You make good friends by having things in common them. You can bond over things you dislike, but in order to make it really work I think you have to enjoy the same things. Your friends are dictated very much by your definition of fun.

I see this in myself and with the people I make time for. I like long, meaningful conversations, so generally I like to spend time with people who like to converse. Sometimes I don't make friends very quickly, and I’ll admit that until I trust someone I will not go very deep with them. It can be hard to develop meaningful relationships with random folks in my line of work. For some, the bridge between fanship and friendship is short. For me, for whatever reason, it can be longer. It could take me minute to trust you, or a year, it all depends on how the conversations go. I like good conversations. I used to think house parties and keggers were fun, and thus my friends seemed to be people who enjoyed that same lifestyle. The point is, my definition of fun has changed, and so it seems my prerequisites for good friends.

I like people who are aware of their surroundings, who can take the temperature of the room and can engage in a conversation without being distracted. I like people who don't overtly break the rules, but don't necessarily follow them either. I like people who are impulsive. My idea of fun now just involves a handful of good friends. I no longer wish to roll the dice with strangers at a bar or a club. I want to meet people one at a time and have more focused relationships.

I was thinking about this recently as Kristie and I spent some time with a couple who are good friends. Jason and Jen are a few years older than us and have three kids. Lifestyle-wise we have very little in common, but somehow we still seem to connect on that deeper level. I think it has something to do with our idea of a good time. Both couples love good conversations. After everyone else leaves they stay, sometimes for hours, just to talk (It's the same when we go to their house, we can never get out of there at a decent hour). It’s as if they too are searching for a chance to experience one of those conversations that leaves you feeling energized and inspired. They relish the same things we do. Their definition of fun is consistent with ours, so when they visit, we expect a 2 A.M. departure. Sleep, work and the priorities of the morning become secondary and unimportant compared to our visits. Sometimes during these conversations we expose truths about ourselves that we wouldn’t otherwise expose, we laugh, we cry, you know, we say things that make us feel vulnerable. Without trust and friendship, doing this would make us ripe for injury and embarrassment, but in this case it just causes us to love each other more. It's been said that the greatest fuel for hate is ignorance. If that is true, would that make the greatest fuel for love awareness? How many of us are really aware of our friends struggles? How many of us make our friends aware of our own? I think "relational ignorance" is too common these days and it can really limit true friendship and love. It starves people of their life bread! How does one survive without a confidant or two?

Some people don’t want to be exposed, its uncomfortable, so they keep their friends at arms length and remain ignorant themselves. To be honest, I’m kind of tired of those people.

I'll be really honest here. I am extremely tired of people who are my age but maintain high school mentalities. I am tired of those whose passions come from gossip magazines and reality shows. I'm tired of those who think they know everything and have bought into the idea that life is ultimately about serving themselves. I am tired of those who seek their own comfort at the expense of everyone around them. I can't be friends with those people, because those people don't need friends. They need their friends to abandon them so that they can hit rock bottom. They need to hit rock bottom to find what life is really about. I am tired of selfish motivations. I am tired of fake, fickle, flakey "friends." I believe in the statement that life is about more than struggling to accumulate money to purchase things you don't need to impress people you don't even like. I know everyone needs love, perhaps these ones need a lot of love, but for a time I think these people need pain, and a hefty dose of it, otherwise they'll just die unhappy and alone. That's me being honest.

Back to the part about your friends being dictated by what you like. When I was thirteen, I got into online gaming and my friendships were formed mostly around that. When I was sixteen I got into partying, and thus, my friends became those who enjoyed that activity. It was the same with sports, drugs, music, church, etc. For the last six years most of my friends and I have shared the common bond of music. Good conversations, however, are one of my favorite activities, so regardless of the lifestyle inconsistencies I can enjoy a friendship with pretty much anyone who gets the same kick out of discussing things that matter. I'll go so far as to avoid situations and environments that are not conducive to quality conversations. Nowadays, when the bar is too packed, people are too drunk and the music is too loud, I'll start looking around for the exit sign. I don't even have to think about it, I'll just want to leave suddenly. I think thats why sometimes I am tempted to pick up smoking again. I used to have the best conversations outside and away from the noise. Those good old one-on-ones with a smoking buddy. Now I'll just shiver and check the time... when your body doesn't need to smoke, its hard to motivate yourself to stand outside and mingle.

It's always good to make yourself define the things you enjoy the most. Make a list. Your relationships, your identity and your personality are all things will be influenced by that list. That list will define you. Friends will enter your life because of that list, and nothing will have a greater effect on you than people. Someone once said, "Show be your two best friends and I'll show you your future." You may be a strong person, but spend enough time with a person and you'll find yourself on the same path. Be careful of your priorities, and be careful of the things you start to like. Make them good things, so you have good friends, so you can live a good life.

These are all things I was told by my parents and mentors, and most of these things I disagreed with. My friends accepted me, I loved them, what was so bad about that? To this day I love all of my friends dearly, past and present, but I am very thankful I did not continue down some of the avenues I travelled with them. I'm the exception. By the grace of God my lifestyle today is productive as opposed to destructive. It is only because of my wife and a few others that I am not an addict or in rehab or prison or worse. Where I am today is dramatically different than where I was headed because of a few who invested time, prayers and positive energy.

So, be honest with your friends and invest in your relationships. Expose yourself when the timing is right. Be vulnerable, it builds trust, and trust is the most valuable thing between two people. Define the positive things you enjoy. Make a list of the goals you want to achieve and surround yourself with like minded people. There's my fortune cookie wisdom for the day. I'm done now.


  1. everyone needs that vulnerability, that trust. way too many people think they can get away without sharing their lives with the people around them...

    ha, i'm tired of people keeping the high-school-mentality in highschool. shallow, fickle, herd animals that live for shock- shocking other people in some way, and recieving the same shock from the people/media around them. all absorbed by their own worlds...

    so, i also cannot stand atmospheres that are "not conducive to quality conversations"- when people are unwilling or incapable of anything deeper than their skin. i've gotten myself into far too many conversations where i decided to give someone a chance at a decent conversation *despite* the fact that we're rather different (because we're told so often that one can learn a lot from people different than you) and ended up either frustrated or simply amused by their apparent lack of reasoning skill... (this seems particularly prevalent in the church.)

    haha, you can probably have a similar conversation over a cup of coffee or tea or dinner, i doubt smoking is necessary- people need to eat and drink as well, except those necessities aren't held solely by drug addicts. ;)

    "when the timing is right" points out a rather important distinction between good and bad exposition. many also fall the opposite way, being honest when there IS no trust and opening themselves up to humilliation or brokenness. as always, it's about finding the balance: knowing when (and who) to trust and when to say quiet.

    thanks for your thoughts!

  2. I absolutely agree. Conversations are my favourite way to spend time, yet it seems good, deep ones are few and far between.

    A week ago I spent an evening chatting with this girl I knew from school, to get to know her better, although she claimed that knowing her was a scary thing. I learned so much about her and myself, and it feels so freeing to know someone's deep feelings and to share one's own.

    Thank you.

  3. Very true, thank you for your thoughts. You always seem to have the best blogs. :)

  4. Wow, I feel very challenged by this blog, Matt. I feel like that advice at the end is something I need to carry with me. I'm trying to get better at letting people in, into what I'm going through, into my life. I've really struggled with being vulnerable and open with people in my life, even my closest friends. And my friendships have suffered for it. I feel like being closed up and only having surface convos hurts both you and your friends. Because when you open up and share a part of you, it gives that person the freedom to do the same. I feel like I'm slowly getting better at it. Good conversation can be life changing.

  5. Right on Matt.

    My favorite part: "Some people don’t want to be exposed, its uncomfortable, so they keep their friends at arms length and remain ignorant themselves. To be honest, I’m kind of tired of those people"


    You don't know how good this post was for me to read. Thanks.

  6. I completely understand what you're saying, Matt. And if I had read this a while ago, I would have disagreed, but now I do. I recently joined a "Bible" study (we were reading a book about the Lord's name, not really the Bible...), but I found myself surrounded by people who I was able to connect with. Usually, I don't reveal my insecurities and whatnot to people I've never met before, but I found myself telling them all, and even gaining a few friends in the process. I've been pleasantly surprised, but I believe it's the Lord's work...
    Like you, I thrive off good conversation. And today, it's rare to find. I hope that I can find some in college...
    Keep updating! You're very inspiring... : )

  7. I know this is a little off topic but what type of online gaming did you play?

  8. Back then it was Diablo, Starcraft, and Ultima Online.

  9. I really enjoyed reading this post, keep them coming!

  10. Hey Matt, thanks for posting this. :)Oftentimes, I get really tangled up in friendships and the meaning of a true friendship; this was a good, a little less abstract description of a friendship.

  11. I think there's a reason why I enjoy TCC's music so much. How often do you find musicians that delve deep into subjects like this, and on a public domain at that?

    As for the subject itself, I agree about just being open with friends. It's something I'm working on myself and haven't really been doing such a great job at it yet. It's like the Dr. Seuss quote, "Those that care don't matter, and those that matter don't care." If they care so much about the differences between you, then that's their problem. I've drilled that into my head, I'm just working on actually acting it out.

  12. hey matt, i've wondered for like two years and a friend and i were talking about it last night, wondering... so i've decided to ask: is there some ...story behind headlights? what was the inspiration? though i love it and have my own... say, *significance* for the lyrics, meaning, i still have no idea as to what could have inspired it. perhaps, if you don't mind, could you explain?

  13. Your fortune cookie wisdom sounds as though you have been going through a season of "spiritual maturation" Matt, it is true that we are defined by our friendships and the directions in which they can lead us, either to growth or destruction. I believe the change in one's own priorities, the replacing of good for things not good, is a sign of maturity.

  14. You're right. It makes me glad that I met my two best friends at church way back when we were three years old, and we've stuck with each other ever since. We've each been through some bad stuff, some hard stuff, and some terrible stuff, but we've been there for each other through it all, despite our differences. We're all very different, but we have a few essential things in common, and that counts for everything. None of us would be where we are today if it weren't for the other two. Companionship is everything in life- it can define who you are. Reading this made me extremely thankful I've got the two best besties anyone could ever ask for. :)

  15. this is interesting, and i find it to be true. i am dealing with separating from people very close to me and it's for their own good.i love them, but if i act like everything is ok, that's enabling them to continue destroying themselves. so anyway, thanks for writing this.