In church we call it “community”. In the blogging world it’s a “tribe”. You may use my peeps, my crew, my girls, my boys…something along those lines. But, the bottom line is relationships.
I have learned a lot about relationships, specifically, friendships, during my lifetime. I have had great ones, and not so great. I’ve gained life-long friends, and some that were for a short season. I’ve nurtured some, and quite honestly, blown some. I have lived long enough for some friendships to cycle around. But, the point is I’ve learned.
Here are seven lessons I’d like to share:
I’ve read once that, “you attract who you are” (Lord knows I hope not, because before I met my husband I considered myself a “nut magnet” – attracting guys who would say and do any ol’ crazy thing). I believe some element of that is true. We do tend to attract like-minded people. Musicians tend to spend time with musicians. Crafters with other crafters. Wealthy with the wealthy. Gossips with gossips. You get the picture. However, we can also attract people who see things in us that they admire. For example, (confession time) I am not the most gracious person. But, I am friends with some of the most gracious, kind people I know. And, I watch them. I enjoy being with them. I learn from them. My husband naturally serves people well. It is how he is. I do not. If we are sitting at a table with someone, and they spill something, I think “they need something to clean that up.” My husband does it for them. I love that about him, and I learn from his example.
You should be the type of friend you want. Do you want loyalty? Be loyal. Trustworthiness? Honesty? Be trustworthy and honest. Forgiveness? Then, forgive. Which leads to…
Forgive folks. More relationships are destroyed because people will not forgive. And, I’m not talking about “big” stuff, like she slept with my man (although, we are to forgive big things too). I mean things like “she didn’t call me back”, “he didn’t invite me”, “she didn’t keep her word”, “I didn’t like that one thing that he said.” Slights. Misunderstandings. Unmet expectations. The reality is, we are all human. Your friends are human. Your family is human. My husband. Your wife. Your kids? All human. I am human. So, I will blow it. Chances are I will forget something. I will not follow thru on some promise. I will say or do something that will offend. Heck, I may not answer the phone or text right away when you contact me. Because, I’m human. Guess what? You. Are. Too
Own your stuff. We all have insecurities, and childhood experiences that play into how we interpret life today. Most people are not out to get you or make your life miserable. That takes waaaaaay too much energy. But, depending on your life experiences you may interpret it as such. If you lived under demanding, unforgiving parents you can have the tendency to believe that all or most people are demanding and unforgiving. If you are afraid of being abandoned or rejected, you may expect people to abandon or reject you and treat any slight as an indication of such. I was teased and left out by other kids as a child (weren’t many??). And it produced this desire to want to please everyone, to make everyone happy, be a chameleon. But, it did not leave me with more friends. It left me exhausted. Owning my stuff helped me to realize that I will not be friends with everyone I meet. It’s impossible. Friendly? Yes. Spend time with them? Sure, I will. But, people connect for different reasons (see point #1). And, that is ok.
Change your expectations. There is this expectation that people will be what you want, when you want. They won’t. End of story.
Develop a proper view of love. We celebrate the saying, “if they love you they will accept you as you are”, and use it as license to ignore or challenge any concerns people have. We say “God is love” or “God loves me.” True. “God demonstrated his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died.” Yep. He loved me as a selfish, proud, fearful, unforgiving person, but died so I didn’t need to stay that way. True love will do something. If you are expecting someone who loves you to never correct, challenge, or question you when you are obviously doing something destructive, you don’t want a loving friend, you want an enabler…or, a pet.
Please remember that it’s not easy to be YOUR friend. Surprised?? Friendship is hard. Doing all of the things above (and more, like communicating, serving, spending time, etc.) is not easy. If you are thinking about how difficult it is to forgive, love, etc., just know that chances are it’s difficult for someone else to be/do that for you at times. Granted, some of us are more challenging than others. But…
That friend wasn’t really available to answer that call. But, she knew you needed her.
Yes. He did have other plans, but, he rearranged things to do that “thing” for you.
Actually, she was asleep, but it sounded important.
He really would’ve preferred to be doing something else, but, since you needed a favor, he did it.
Her family had plans for that money, but you needed it, or were getting married, or lost a loved one, or had surgery or a baby and she used it for you.
She did not want to have that hard conversation with you, because she knew you would be hurt by it, but she also knew that in the long run you needed to hear the truth. She was willing to risk your wrath so that you would be better for it in the long run.
See? It’s not that easy.
One who has unreliable friends soon comes to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.
(Proverbs 18:24 NIV)
Wounds from a friend can be trusted, but an enemy multiplies kisses. (Proverbs 27:6)