My last post was about community and for the past couple of weeks I have had so many conversations regarding this topic. My conversations have mostly centered around friendships so it’s only fitting that this week I post about… friendships!
Friends are vital! Even Jesus didn’t attempt to do life alone, He had friends.
Friendships have been a sore topic for me. Disappointments, hurts and abandonment left me with a bad taste in my mouth. I didn’t completely swear off friends but I was a bit more cautious and chose what I was vulnerable with. That’s the sugar coated way of saying that I didn’t really let anyone in all the way, I didn’t have real friends. Realizing that I couldn’t do life alone made me seek to have real friendships made me seek to build friendships that last and cultivate meaningful friendships.
I first had to realize that though I could have charged everyone else with “not being a real friend”, I too was at fault. Not allowing people all the way in was definitely a problem. I read somewhere that vulnerability tells someone “whether you love me or hate me I will honor you with the truth of me.” This had to be the hardest part for me. Honoring someone with the truth of me meant they could hate me, and I am not a fan of rejection. But the flip side is; if they love you it’s genuine because they love you for you. I had to recognize that the beauty of the latter outweighed the possible hurt of the former. Someone loving me for me opens the door for a possible real friendship. I had to be vulnerable and be willing to give people ME. However, to give people the real me I had to love the real me, I couldn’t expect people to love me if I couldn’t love me.
Another thing I had to realize was; There are levels to this! Not everyone is a friend or a close friend. Jesus had so many people around Him and He loved them all but there were a few who were in His circle. Then there were about 3 who were in His inner circle (Luke 9:28, Matt 26:36-38). These 3 were the ones He took with Him when He went to pray. The intimacy with these was different from the rest. You can love someone with the love of Christ but that doesn’t make them your friend. Friendship should be intimate and valuable, not diluted across multiple people.
I also couldn’t let the ghosts of failed friendships haunt my current friendships. I almost let this ruin a budding friendship: Something happened and rather than handle the situation head on, I handled it based on a past situation. If that friend didn’t notice a change in my demeanor and call it out, and we weren’t willing to have the awkward talk about it , we may not have been friends today. Don’t hold new relationships in your life to the second rate standard of a failed or broken relationship. Give these new friendships a fair chance to blossom in new soil because obviously the old soil did not work.
I think the biggest revelation I have had in this journey is that I shouldn’t expect to receive exactly what I gave. Now, I definitely believe friendships should not be draining, you should not be pouring into someone and not get anything in return. Friendships are symbiotic not parasitic. However, the way I give isn’t necessarily how I am going to receive. My friends have many strengths and they pour into me one way and I pour into them in other ways. It’s iron sharpening iron.
Friendships take work and cannot survive if I am holding on to offense! I lost many “friendships” because I felt like I was the only one reaching out or putting in the effort. Eventually I was tired of reaching out and that’s when the relationship died. You have to be willing to put in work. You have to be willing to reach out. You have to be willing to have uncomfortable conversations and work through them. You have to be able to forgive. You have to be willing to hold no offense. You have to be willing to invest time and be vulnerable and build intimacy. Yup similar to a dating relationship, weird but true. Every type of relationship requires these things actually, even your relationship with God.
God created friendships for us to thrive! Your past hurts may make you think you don’t need them, but you do. As you seek to build meaningful friendships remember that you should seek this type of relationship with people who have the same values and morals that you do. If you are struggling to build meaningful friendships you have to evaluate the root. Maybe you are like me, being guarded and not allowing people to see the real you, or maybe you are just choosing the wrong people. Either way figure out why and fix it! You deserve meaningful friendships.