“A Tree Called Friend” by Rachel Coltharp.
I recently read an MIT Technology Review (published 4/29/16) about anthropologist Robin Dunbar’s study of human interaction. Tracking social patterns via cell phone interactions, he found there is a natural limit in friendship patterns. We human beings tend to have a natural limit of five close friends and a meaningful relationship circle of 150.
Dunbar found patterns of social interaction layers, and they are five closest, the next layer has ten more, the next layer has an additional thirty-five, and the final layer group has one hundred.
This intrigues me, as I see the limits of social groups limited below 150 throughout history, in Roman centurions of eighty, the tithing bands of ten individuals in Medieval English law enforcement, and in the bands of thousands being broken into tens and one hundreds in Moses’ division in Exodus.
To put it in context, we can consider these numbers in the following way.
5 nearest relationships.
10 close relationships.
35 important relationships
100 meaningful relationships
For the believer, friendships are so much more than mere chance. They are God at work. Working in, on, and through us.
Friendships come in many forms. Some are root friendships; others are fruit friendships.
Root friendships are the ones that make you strong, hold you in place, nourish your soul, and help you grow.
Fruit friendships are the ones where you share your gifts, talents, and experience to make someone else’s life richer and sweeter. These are the friendships where seed is shared, seed that will in time become a root friendship in their life.
When I look back over my life, I see the different kinds of friendships God allowed me to experience. At the time, they seemed like chance and circumstance. Looking back, I see it was the hand of God directing me toward these relationships. I didn’t know at the time, but some of them would become root friendships, helping hold me in place through the years. Nourishing me, feeding me, anchoring me in truth. Others became fruit friendships, opportunities to give and feed the minds, hearts, and souls of others.
Looking back, I see the hand of God. He was working, even when I couldn’t see it. In the everyday things, in the nice-to-meet you moments that turned into so much more.
Note: Rachel Coltharp is wife to one, mother to four. She is a writer and public speaker who shares from her real life experiences, mostly mistakes and do-overs. She is also a pastor’s wife and staff writer for Reflections Magazine.
(Information from: Ladies Prayer Intl October 2020 Newsletter – UPCI LM – firstname.lastname@example.org)