I have a confession to make.
Friendships have not always been much of a priority for me.
When I started to dive into the study of the Enneagram and typed myself as an Enneagram 3, I was surprised to learn that 3s – well known for their approachability and their relational networks – don’t always prioritize friendships in their lives. And if they do, the friendships could often either be described as "work friends," or perhaps have a little-noticed, unspoken transactional nature about them. (think: “what can this person do for me?” or “how can this person improve my life?”)
I was surprised, because surely that isn’t me. While I fancy myself something of a functional introvert, the truth of the matter is I LOVE to be surrounded by those with whom I share this journey of life. I remember thinking: am I actually an Enneagram 3, or is this evidence that I've inadvertently mistyped myself?
Then I remembered how my seminary friends had often poked fun at me for my reputation of never attending parties or gatherings unless there was an explicit purpose for doing so. How, on the weekends, I could usually be found holed up in my apartment reading the texts for the following week or getting a jump start on a biblical exegesis paper. How I once got caught trying to sneak into a basement door of my apartment building to avoid being seen by a gathering of folks relaxing in the courtyard.
Sure, all of that might have been true. But on the other hand, I also knew I was so often surrounded by friends! You know, like, when we were studying for an exam, or working on a group project, or carpooling to and from the chaplaincy internship, or…
I guess I’m an Enneagram 3 after all.
But God’s Grace abounds, and one of many, many examples of that grace is this: by the time I made this startling discovery about myself, my priorities had already naturally started a significant shift.
I often say that one of the wisest decisions I made when graduating from seminary was to make a concerted effort into naming friendship as a defining priority for my life.
But in each of these cases and more, I have discovered that what sounded like a terrible idea has actually enriched my life beyond measure. What’s more – when friendships are built on the foundation of mutual commitment and not mere transaction, they are connections that withstand the test of time and miles – even an ill-fated move to Southwest Florida. ;-) My friendships have been a space where others join me in the excitement of life’s greatest joys, and cry with me in life’s deepest hurts, and celebrate with me in life’s biggest accomplishments, and stand up for me in life’s greatest traumas.
I guess what I’m saying is simply this: thanks be to God for lessons learned and new priorities. And thanks be to God for the great gift of friendship.
I'm a husband, father, news junkie, theatre lover, enneagram enthusiast, bi advocate, amateur foodie, wannabe barista, and an ordained pastor in the Presbyterian Church (USA).
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