Mapping Out Friendship

If someone asked you to draw a map to find a good friend, could you chart the path? Maybe you know a few landmarks? 

What are the signs that you’re on the path to a strong, lifelong friendship?

I took inventory recently and came up with this list.

What has led me to great friendships?

  • Observing – noticing repetitions of people, conversations, topics and connections. Who and what keeps surfacing in my life? This is how the Spirit reminds me of people I might normally miss. 
  • Chemistry – wanting, missing, thinking the world is dimmer without this person in it. 
  • Wise faithfulness – trying and trying again and knowing when to stop trying.
  • Mutuality – common interest in something we both easily enjoy.
  • Timing – their life and mine sync up in a natural sense.
  • Pacing – accepting that each friend has their pace and knowing if our pace is close enough to walk together.
  • Equality of give-and-take – lopsided giving does happen but seasonally, not perpetually. 
  • Appropriate contentment – knowing what a friend can and cannot give and not demanding more.
  • Homework – knowing what is important to my friends, thinking about my friends when we aren’t together.

This list alone reveals something hugely lacking: good content about how to make great friendships. I think each of these is worth a sermon, or a blog post or a whole series of posts. I can also imagine a similar list of the opposite: what has ruined great friendships. This list also reveals that we cannot sustain more than a few really good friends. We just don’t have the capacity to remember them all. So, just like in a spouse, we must choose wisely. And we must cultivate carefully. 

Our time, our energy is limited. Something our post-COVID world seems to finally know a bit better. 

For 2022, I’m devoting a year to talking about the Art of Friendship. How to find a good friend, how to spend our time growing these friendships and growing ourselves. Don’t you think that would be a good way to start a new year!

Maybe you have a friend you’d like to grow with as you read my blog together. Please share with them. I’m looking for more thoughtful, caring people who want to learn friendship. So if you’re new here, you can receive my work regularly by subscribing.

As we wait for 2022 to dawn, see if you can add to my list. What are a few signposts that led to your good friendships? 

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I painted this after a foggy sunset in our new town of Exeter, New Hampshire. Right across the street the fog was rolling over the Squamscott River and I could see the sunset light reflected on the water. I walked up to the sign to take the reference shot and saw how the fog just blanketed the end of the river.

I wanted to focus on how we need signposts to guide us into some of the most beautiful places in our life. But in painting, letters can easily fixate the viewer to start reading the painting. That creates a illustration experience, not really a fine art, landscape experience.

My favorite part about this painting is the way the sky melts together. It’s also the first painting I’ve done of our new hometown of Exeter, so special for several reasons. Hope you enjoy!

I haven’t linked this painting to a purchase option, but if you’re interested, it’s 7.5″ x 11″ and $125. Send your interest to hello@jonalynfincher.com

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