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  • Writer's pictureRusty McKie

The Friends We Want and The Ones We Need

Have you ever talked to someone who looked past you? They pretended to listen, but you saw the envy in their eyes as they longed to speak to someone else.

I bet you have. I'll even guess you've done that to others as well. The hearts of men and women are fickle and faithless — especially when it comes to friendship.

This is nothing new. C.S. Lewis observed this human tendency back in 1944 in a talk called The Inner Ring.

"The desire which draws us into Inner Rings is another matter. A thing may be morally neutral and yet the desire for that thing may be dangerous…Unless you take measures to prevent it, this desire is going to be one of the chief motives of your life, from the moment you enter your profession until you are too old to care… If you do nothing about it, if you drift with the stream, you will in fact be an ‘inner ringer.’ I don’t say you’ll be a successful one; that’s as may be. But whether by pining and moping outside Rings that you can never enter, or by passing triumphantly further and further in—one way or the other you will be that kind of man." - C.S. Lewis (Source)

Always Striving and never arriving

We all envision the types of friends we think we need. We inherently believe that if we stumble upon these mythical creatures, their magic will help us self-actualize into the most-ideal versions of ourselves.

We think, Sure, I have friends, but they don't get me. They fail me more than support me. If only they could be like ________.

And so we go hunting — always looking, hoping, and longing for that friend that will "stick closer than a brother" (Proverbs 18:24).

But what happens when we break in and belong to the inner ring that our hearts desire? 

"As long as you are governed by that desire you will never get what you want. You are trying to peel an onion; if you succeed there will be nothing left. Until you conquer the fear of being an outsider, an outsider you will remain." - C.S. Lewis (Source)

Lust is a slavemaster who never lets you sleep.

Contentment and Commitment

Perhaps, the friendships you want are not the ones you need. Ask yourself:

  • Is my desire to be associated with certain people for their good or my advancement?

  • Has my envy blinded me to who's in front of me? 

  • Do I harbor bitterness toward my current friends because they don't measure up to my expectations?

God knows what you need. Often in life, God must kill your fantasy of friendship to give you the real friends your heart desires.

Rather than spend your energy bouncing from one friend group to another, work toward this:

  • Pray for eyes to see the faithful friends God has placed around you.

  • Learn contentment by trusting God's wisdom to give you those friends.

  • Practice commitment by refusing to trade them in for the dream of an inner ring.

Friendship is hard and filled with disappointments but worth it.

As you lean into the friendships around you that you need, you might just discover they were always the friends you wanted.

Why is it easier to dream of perfect friends than entrust ourselves to the friends God has gifted to us?


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