Friendships are the hardest part of life. I’ve been thinking about them a lot now that we are about 3 years into our move from Minnesota to Texas. Not that building friendships was easier for me in Minnesota. Truthfully, friendships have always been incredibly difficult for me. I’ve struggled to make and keep lasting friendships for most of my life.
I’ve generally attributed this to the fact that especially in the last 10 years, I have moved around a lot. Between going to college out of state, and then moving out of my parent’s house to be independent, change was always a constant. And for me, location has always seemed to dictate friendship in big ways.
Now, I have the added element of a toddler in the mix to make building friendships even more of a struggle. In this day and age, when many of us moms work, finding time for everything in life seems to feel impossible. And for me, that means friendships get thrown to the back burner.
This year, I’ve committed myself to find healing in so many places in my life. Sometimes, it’s very scattered as I read the books I can get my hands on. But in general, every book I read has the theme of helping me find healing in some area of my life.
Knowing that friendship has been a struggle, I honestly avoided as many books on friendship as I could. In reflection, that’s probably because I know that it’s an area that likely needs the most work in my life. It’s easy to be an online friend. I can pop in and out and use the excuse of not having facebook on my phone as a reason for not being present and highly involved.
But to be friends in real life takes so much more work. It means giving up a lot of myself, that honestly, I’ve never really been willing to give up. It’s not that I’m happy with the current status, or the way things have been in the past. But I’ve been unwilling to make the changes necessary in my life to be a better friend to those around me.
So, I picked up Never Unfriended by Lisa-Jo Baker. I had heard Baker talk about her book on a few podcasts and decided I needed to actually dig into what her book said.
The title was a really big stumbling block for me. Baker’s premise is that we should not unfriend those in our lives when things get hard. And her point is that just because it is so easy to unfriend someone on social media does not mean that’s the way we should be treating our friendships in real life.
I decided to set aside my preconceived notions about the title and read this book.
Never Unfriended is broken up into four parts:
1. What are We Afraid Of?
2. What Can’t We Do About It?
3. What Can We Do About It?
4. Where Do We Start?
The first part was probably the most beneficial for me. As Baker breaks down the problem with friendship, she addresses the way we bring our brokenness from old friendships into every new friendship. And how that actually harms the friendships we try to build in new arenas because we can’t separate the old hurt from the new person.
Building Healthy Friendships
Baker continues to develop healthy, biblical ways to build friendships. I often found myself frustrated with the last three parts of the book. Not because she wasn’t speaking truth, but because the type of friendship she is describing in this book is something I don’t know that I’ve ever been able to experience in my life.
Towards the end of the book, Baker asserts that we have to stop desiring to be part of the “in crowd” because there is always someone on the outside of some group. While I agree with the general premise, I do believe that some people actually have a harder time fitting into any group, and that makes the desire to be a part of a group not unhealthy.
I don’t think that it was Baker’s intention to shame anyone who struggles with friendship, but I occasionally felt overwhelmed with all of the things that Baker asserts are required for friendship. As I was processing parts of the book with a friend, I made the exasperated comment that friendship like this only works when the other person is willing to dive in too.
I think that Baker hopes women will remember to keep asking, keep inviting, keep inserting themselves into others lives. As I realistically consider this, especially having experienced being the “new person” fairly recently, it’s not always possible to always be the one asking. Sometimes it takes someone already established to do some reaching out. I wish that Baker would have addressed the exhaustion that can come from feeling like you always are the one reaching out without having much of that reciprocated.
I’ve got another book on friendship to review in a few weeks, but this is a book I think I’ll have to revisit again in the future. There is a lot to process within the pages of Never Unfriended. And clearly, friendship is a theme that God is placing before me to address in this year.
I know that there will be more thoughts on this theme in the future.
I received a copy of this book from NetGalley and B&H Books. This review is my own, honest opinion.