Last year I wrote one of my most “liked” and shared posts: Should We Even Be Friends. There was something about it that did more than grab reader’s attention—it grabbed their hearts and sat in their gut for a while.

The challenges of friendship seem to be weighing on us all.

Maintaining old and cultivating new friendships as adults is simply hard. For most of us, gone are the days of seeing your bffs every day in class or sharing a tiny apartment with them. The demanding responsibilities of adult life have taken a blow on our social lives. When faced with rare free time, there is a good chance many of us might choose to catch up on the Bachelor or Survivor with a glass of wine ALONE over meeting up for coffee or picking up the phone to catch up with a friend.

It seems our expectations in a world of instant gratification have overflowed on to how we do friendship. If it isn’t easy— if the connection isn’t instant— then maybe it’s not worth it. If our life stages are different… well then I’ll find someone who is more like me. If we’ve grown apart… I guess it’s time to move on.

We all want easy. We want to feel known and loved without putting in the time and heart work. We want friendships without disagreements. We want companionship without challenges. And sadly, we turn away amazing opportunities for community because we either can’t find the time or energy to invest, or we are scared to let our walls down.

But all of us need community and many of us are desperately longing for it. God created us this way. We are wired to live together—learning from each other– being grown, stretched and ultimately transforming into His likeness through relationships.

Last year I wrote about meeting up with my college roommates for the 5th year in a row. We are 6 women who met 9 years ago in a Dordt College dorm, now in 5 different states and 2 different countries. Marriage and miscarriage. Divorce and new jobs. Babies and break-ups. We’ve been through it all. But most importantly, we had been through it all together.

But this reunion was met with more difficulty than the last. It was clear we weren’t the girls who met in that cramped dorm. We were women now—women walking different paths littered with our own trials and triumphs. Women who didn’t laugh at the same old jokes any more. Women grasping to find common ground.

If you would have asked me on the plane ride home if there would be another reunion, I may have said “no”. I wasn’t sure where the friendship would go from there.

But despite some challenges we faced that weekend, we decided to persevere. We decided that friendship was bigger than commonality. We decided choosing to love and encourage one another was worth the effort it would take.

And we did. Now here we are, almost a year later, and tomorrow I’ll leave for Portland, OR to see those five beautiful faces.

Because we made a choice to press forward, I feel closer to them today than I did a year ago. Over this past year we talked less about little stuff and more about the deep things we needed prayer for and encouragement in. And although we may have communicated less frequently, our connection grew deeper.

We finally had the courage to point out the elephant in the room: we are different. By normal cultural standards, we probably shouldn’t still be friends. But we took that and looked at it through a Kingdom lens, asking ourselves deeper questions than “do these women like the same clothes I like?” or “did these women vote for the same presidential candidate as I did?”

Instead, “do these women encourage and challenge me, helping draw me closer to Jesus?”

The answer is yes.

I pray the answer will always be yes.

A lot has happened since we parted ways at the Detroit airport last summer. There will be hours of things to discuss and process and unpack and pray for. Instead of hitting the bars to dance the night away, I think our evenings will be spent around a fire in our yoga pants and nerdy matching reunion sweatshirts, rocking each other’s babies to sleep and dreaming up our futures. I think the conversations will revolve less around the girls we once were and the stories that shaped our college experience, and more about the women we desire to be and the narrative shaping our futures.

Do you have friendships that need to be fought for?

Are there friends you have allowed to slip away because time has made you different people or distance has made it too difficult? Are there new friends you have pushed away because you are in different life stages or you have few common interests (or you saw something political they posted on Facebook that you completely disagree with?) If so, I challenge you to press in a little deeper. Ask yourself a few more questions to determine if you are seeking friendship for feel-good niceties or for deep, transformational relationships.

But having your soul knitted to another isn’t for the faint of heart.

It means you bear your own hurts along with those of your friend. You cry when they cry and laugh when they laugh and feel like your heart will break wide open when you face not having them by your side.

But it’s worth it because they cause you to love harder, laugh louder, live richer and become more than you could ever be without them. It’s putting your heart and your name in the hands of another person and saying, “I trust you with all of this,” as they do the same. (The Miracle of Friendship)