I wonder as you get older if it gets harder to make friends. Not just buddies or people you hang out with, but really close friends. Growing up my parents were never “friends” people. They had old family friends, friends from college, friends that stood up in their wedding, and they would get together every once in a while, but this seemed few and far between. (Sorry if you ever read this, mom and dad!) As an adolescent, this mortified me. I spent as much time as possible out of the house hanging out with my group of friends, and when I was home, I was probably on the phone or chatting on then-novel AIM. Were my parents losers or was it inevitable that you just spent less time with friends as you got older? Do you just lose the ambition to make friends and settle into life with your significant other? Or was it just my parents?
I’ve since met plenty of people my parents age and older with busy social lives, and have come to understand some people are just not naturally as social. They enjoy friends, but they also enjoy a quiet night at home. But I do think I may have been on to something.
It seems as you get older you start making your mind up about more things. Political beliefs, religious beliefs, living standards, principles, values…. And as good as it is to become an individuated and educated adult with a formed perspective on the world, these things can divide. It’s always easiest to become friends with people who are very similar to who you are, but the older you get, the more specific “you” are. And therefore the harder it may be to be friends with everyone.
This quarter I’ve been studying American Church History. This topic is almost entirely new to me, and as someone without strong denominational affiliations, things can seem foreign. But, like friendship, it seems like the church inevitably becomes more and more picky over time. They make up more decisions about what the church should look like and what theology is correct. Church polity, theology, and practice all become divisive. Things I couldn’t care less about have caused rifts in denominations. Old School verses New School. Congregational polity verses Episcopal polity. Calvinism verses Arminianism. Infant verses believers baptism. The list goes on and on. And there seems to be some sort of push to decide. Like picking a side on all these dividing debates somehow makes you more theologically mature. I may not have an opinion on which one is right, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t learned my theology… it just means I don’t think that making that decision really makes any difference. (Hopefully none of my professors will ever read this either.)
So, I have made a decision to try to be more generous, both in my theology and in my friendships. I will inevitably continue to make decisions about what I think is the right way to live and the right theology, but hopefully my relationships will broaden instead of narrow. Hopefully I can pursue friendships with those radically different than me, and not let different values or ideas get in the way of making a very real connection. And hopefully as I continue my theological education, I can come to a deep appreciation of many traditions and viewpoints, even as a more fully form my own.