“Just as lotions and fragrance give sensual delight a sweet friendship refreshes the soul.” (Prov. 27:9, MSG)

Because I didn’t watch the same movies or listen to the same music as my teenage peers, I often felt at a loss for how to connect with them. One day after class there was a new girl I’d never met before, and she also seemed out of her element. She seemed bookish like me, so I took the plunge and went up to her and awkwardly started to make conversation. I happened to mention a book I enjoyed by Charles Dickens, and the rest is history. To this day almost fifteen years later, she’s still one of my dearest friends. What I learned in that moment is spelled out in a short lecture on friendship (that I love) by C.S. Lewis called “The Inner Ring.”

Another way of putting the “inner ring” is “the popular crowd.” Remember those kids in high school that everyone wanted to be friends with? Those coworkers that made you feel special by acknowledging your existence? Well, they’re the “inner ring.” Lewis says that being preoccupied with it, however, is just going to leave you peeling away more layers of an onion that never runs out of layers.

The pursuit of the ‘inner ring’ can also cause you to compromise your values, interests, and passions to fit the people you desperately want to be around, and it drives many to seek the wrong kinds of friends. But Lewis shows how friendships that give life form around two main things: 1) people being themselves and 2) people authentically loving good things. Finding and building genuine friendships probably won’t happen frequently and will most certainly happen when you’re not expecting it, but people who care about the same things as you will start to come out of the woodwork when you do these two things.

Genuine friends encourage you, build your confidence, and bring out your best (and vice versa). After being with friends like this, your soul, as Solomon states in verse 9, becomes refreshed.

If you find you’ve fallen prey to the pursuit of the “inner ring,” I hope you’ll let go of fitting in and seek to build relationships with those who share your passions and loves, particularly a shared love for Jesus.

Ashley Carr
High School Teacher

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