Question: I’ve been wondering how to build deeper friendships—how to go from casual friend to more intimate.
What a great question! In my experience, a lot of people do not know how or do not want to go deeper and have intimate friendships. It’s exciting to me to see that you desire this because there is a treasure cove of love and safety and understanding God more when you have a deep friendship.
I think our capacity to have lots of intimate friendships is somewhat limited. Many considered themselves Kara’s best friend, but I think she was a huge exception to the rule! Most of us only have the time and capacity for a few intimate friends, and that is okay; consider Jesus—his circle of disciples numbered 12, but he had three close, intimate friends within that larger group.
Pray and think about your circle of friends and consider with whom you want to go to that deeper level. It will take a lot of time and investment, and you may have to be ready for rejection. Maybe your friend doesn’t want to go to that level of intimacy. You may try and try and that friend doesn’t reciprocate. Pray for wisdom in knowing when to stop pursuing this and know that it’s okay. It’s okay to have friendships that are on different levels of depth and intimacy.
After you’ve decided with whom you want to pursue a deeper friendship, you need to be a safe place for that person. What does that person specifically need? Does that person need time to open up? An open door? To be texted instead of called (or vice versa)? To have space? Think of your friend and try to meet one or two needs that will indicate to them you are safe and willing. As you do this, listen to your friend and ask good questions, all while praying about how to love that person well and effectively.
Intimacy doesn’t just come from talking, although that’s a big part of it. It comes from living life together, too! As a young mother, I used to meet up with a certain friend once a week for tea. We both had several little ones and just got together for a couple hours in the morning to talk, let our kids play together, or maybe just sit in silence. Instead of facing the playground by myself, I’d invite her along. Or we would invite the singles from church over for dinner together. How can you live your lives together and experience things together? Experiences bring us closer to each other and adds a depth to the relationship.
Finally, if that person is a Christian, praying together is one of the most intimate things we can do. It reveals your hearts and ties them together as you pray with one another. One of our couple friends have made a pact to not let people leave their house without praying for them. Sometimes it seems awkward, but as you do it more and more, people will start expecting it. and it will only bless all who are involved!
Who is someone you’d like to develop a deeper relationship with? Do they appear open to going to a deeper level with you? How can you begin by praying for them? In what ways can you effectively love them? How can you pursue them in a way that makes them feel loved?