Before you make a friend eat a bushel of salt with him.

George Herbert, “Proverbs” in The Complete English Works, 275.

This saying is funny almost to the point of being ridiculous. Eating a bushel of salt is impossible–even if you share it. It would take forever and be super nasty. If we waited for friendship until we accomplished this task, we’d wait forever.

So what’s the point? Friendships significantly level up through adversity. You don’t really know someone until you’ve seen how they respond to a significant challenge. Even better, if you’ve had to help each other respond to a significant challenge. This is why trench mates and close work associates enjoy a type of fellowship that transcends mere acquaintance. Until you’ve felt mutual desperation, and reciprocal rescue, you’re still chillin in the shallows.

This doesn’t mean that your friends aren’t your friends. It does mean that the timeline to deep friendship is longer than we moderns typically assume. If you want to shorten that timeline, I suggest signing up for something hard. Coach a team. Serve at church. Go on a mission trip. You’ll be shocked at how fast you’ll bond with folks if you’re “eating salt.”