I sat down by the river for about an hour tonight. I watched a family fishing, two barges chugged by, one heading upstream and the other down, and a couple small boats. It was quiet and peaceful. Darkness seemed to come in swiftly and I wasn't able to read my Bible, but there was some good Jesus and me time.

Pondering can sometimes help me solve problems, sometimes it just gets me deeper into confusion. I thought of friendships…what it takes to be a friend, to keep friends. It's always good to have friends. But the more I thought, the more it was clear that having just any kind of friend isn't my goal in life. It's having friendships that add positivity to my life, nourish my soul, and are true and honest. Those are the friends I want to hang on to.

I've never been a social butterfly. Being an introvert, my circle of friends has been small at any given time. But they were usually friends of substance, meaning they were at least mostly trustworthy, and enjoyable to be around. Sometimes, I pretty much knew when certain friends would not withstand the test of time. They were just there for a season of my life, and then the seasons changed, and so did the friendship.

Occasionally, I have been both surprised and disappointed in a friendship. Like when I realize I've been used for a specific purpose, or betrayed. I've been hurt several times over the years by people who have said they were friends, but were really wolves in sheep's clothing, just waiting to attack. The dark side of human nature never ceases to surprise me.

As I've aged, I've come to appreciate good friendships more, especially the ones that have lasted decades. They've seen the good, the bad, and the ugly side of me and still stuck by me. Those friends are God's blessings to me. I can only hope to be as good a friend to them.

Some friendships are fragile and require a lot of work to keep them functioning. I have to wonder if these are truly friendships or just acquaintances in disguise. All friendships require a bit of effort and care, a mutual respect for each other and boundaries. But some are just easier, it doesn't seem like effort because it just flows gently on its own. It's low maintenance. I like low maintenance.

Some friends can be from a distance, some I see often. There is value in both. Distance doesn't make one less valuable than the other; they both nurture a part of me.

By the time I left the river, it was nearly 10:00pm and darkness had settled in. My thoughts were beginning to wander more toward bedtime. But I drove away with an acknowledgement inside me that I no longer want to waste my time on friendships that do more harm than good to my life. Finding friendships that are loving, honest, and open, with no hidden agendas, may be a little harder to find, but they are definitely worth it. They are one of God's greatest gifts.

Take care of you.