Chickens or Eagles? | On Choosing Friends


Photo Credit: Creative Commons, Land of No Cheese

When I was a freshman in college, I drank. A lot.

I started the weekend on Wednesday with a classy game of beer-pong. On Thursday, I usually went downtown with my fake ID. Fridays and Saturdays were reserved for date parties, fraternity hopping, and my ‘sexiest outfits’.

And then, my life came unraveled. But that’s a story for another day. After the unraveling stopped and clarity sunk in, I started a relationship with God. Soon after, I began to see that the way I spent my ‘weekends’, needed to change.

I couldn’t really hear God if I was drunk 3-4 nights a week and running into the arms men to tell me what I was worth.

I needed a major overhaul. And I knew it was going to hurt.

Where to begin?

Well, prayer is usually a good place to start, but I couldn’t really pray my way into better habits if I didn’t accompany the prayers with tangible decisions.

Accordingly, I stopped drinking, which made clear decision-making when it came to men easier all around. I went to church to meet other like-minded individuals who also wanted more than four-day weekends for their life. I stopped dating for a while.

The hardest part?

The realization that I needed new friends. Not that my old friends were terrible people and certainly weren’t to blame for where I ended up; I just knew that if I continued to only hang around with people who were not encouraging me in my new venture into sobriety, purity, self-reflection, and prayer amongst others—I wasn’t going to get very far.

It was harder than I expected. It certainly was more like a slow drift than a sudden ‘we are OVER’  kind of declaration. I didn’t write off my old friends, but I made efforts to make new friends that were headed in the same direction I wanted to go. I tried to make new friends, but there was always the nudge that my old friends were ‘cooler’ or ‘more fun’. Hanging around people who challenged me was far more difficult. Were my friends really that important so long as I stayed strong in my convictions? I wanted to retreat.

Just the other day, I lamented about a friend of mine to Michael.

“I’m so upset, so frustrated with her because I feel like she is settling. She started settling for mediocre in high-school and never stopped.”

I saw in this dear friend the potential for greatness, for extraordinary, yet she seemed to live in this terrible muck of mediocrity.

And then I realized the “why”.

Her friends. They weren’t soaring, dreaming, flying high. They weren’t pushing each other to excellence and challenging the status quo. They were all merely walking in step with culture—

a culture who tells us we must demand our way, make the most money possible, do what feels good, and hate our bodies.

Paul writes in the book of Corinthians, “Bad company corrupts good character.” It doesn’t mean you can’t have any friends who don’t hold the same morals you do. But it does mean you don’t flippantly hang out with the same people weekend after weekend without examining where YOU ALL are headed. I challenge you today to examine your relationships, as I did mine many years ago. As Andy Andrews so beautifully states:

“If I associate with chickens, I will learn to scratch at the ground and squabble over crumbs. If I associate with eagles, I will learn to soar to great heights. I am an eagle. It is my destiny to fly.” (The Traveler’s Gift)

It is your destiny to fly. Will you stop squabbling over crumbs and find the eagles around you? 

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9 Responses to “Chickens or Eagles? | On Choosing Friends”
  1. A good challenge. My husband and I were just talking about this last night — how to choose friends in our new home (a new country).

    It can be hard to find a lot of encouraging, like-minded, high-achieving friends in real life. I’m thankful for the awesome community of friends I’m able to build globally because of the internets.

  2. Meg Murray says:

    I love this book and agree completely about the importance of surrounding oneself with many eagles if aiming to fly high. :)

    • Ruthie Dean says:

      Yes, isn’t it the best book? Love Andy Andrews. Have you read The Noticer? Also one of my favorites. Excited about your new venture into life-coaching!

  3. Tatuu says:

    This is true! Friends can either build us up or bring us down. Thanks for sharing Mrs. Dean!

  4. Ashlee says:

    Gosh, I LOVE that quote! So so much! And so so true! As I’ve gotten older, I have definitely found myself gravitating towards more eagles, and it’s done wonders for both my self esteem and willingness to take risks.

    • Ruthie Dean says:

      Hi Ashlee! Glad to see you over here. I love it too. If you haven’t read Andy Andrews before, I highly recommend all his books!

  5. Megan says:

    I thought you said I was not in this article? Clearly, I am the eagle;)

    Great post.


    • Ruthie Dean says:

      HA! Clearly. Just didn’t want to name the eagles for fear of hurting the chickens:) Love you! Thanks for commenting.

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