We’re gonna get real tonight, people. I’ve been inspired by my wonderful friend and sister-in-Christ, Rachel. Check out what she says about friendship here.
Yesterday, I met with my church Small Group; an amazing group of people – all ages, men and women, and we talked about Loneliness – the subject of our church’s most recent sermon. Listen here. We talked about the importance of real connections with people.
Friendship is so important to me. I crave real connections, for people to know me and want to invest in me. At the same time, I can draw within myself if I think that people are getting too close, too quickly.
(I have issues, folks, did you not know?!)
Seriously though, at the end of our time together I asked my Small Group to pray for me, because for a few months now I have been struggling in a friendship that feels very uneven. I love this person, and have known them for a long time. They know me really well too. But lately, I have felt like I am the one who always makes the effort and my friend doesn’t respond or give anything back.
It has been really difficult for me. At times I’ve felt like a young girl again, reminded of when friends suddenly decided they didn’t want to be my friend anymore, and I had no idea why (I still don’t, actually). I’ve wondered if I have done anything to upset this friend, or given them a reason to not want to be around me. I know I am probably not the easiest person, all of the time, but even with a lot of soul searching I couldn’t think of something that I had done.
This is an issue I have struggled with ever since my very first “best friend” when I was about five; in so many close friendships I have felt like I invested more in the friendship than the other person. My own insecurities meant that I never completely trusted that the other person wanted my friendship, and I felt like I had to really work at it, rather than just accepting a good thing! I’ve really had to give this over to God; accept His love first…and trust wholly that He chose me.
Knowing my identity is in Christ has really changed my viewpoint about friendships, but I still find it hard at times. In this situation, when I had no reason for why this friend seemed withdrawn from me, instead of raising it with her and discussing it like an adult, sister-to-sister, I became quite bitter in my heart about my friend. I found it incredibly difficult to talk well of her, and not complain about it at every chance I got.
As I talked with my Small Group, I realised that while it upsets me that the friendship is uneven, I have no control over how my friend acts. I could speak to her about it, but I don’t believe she has done this intentionally. Her life’s priorities are different to mine and I need to accept that, lovingly.
I have control over my own actions and thoughts, and I realised that they are not Godly or loving towards my friend.
I got my feelings hurt, and I found it hard to forgive because my friend did not apologise for hurting me (though she shouldn’t need to) and that unforgiveness bred bitterness towards my friend.
In case you weren’t aware, bitterness is a bad thing. A very bad thing. It is damaging to my heart and soul, because it roots deep down inside you and twists everything. It encourages you to see yourself as a victim, and see the world and others as the enemy. Ultimately, it hurts you.
Bad, bad, bad.
So my friends prayed for me. And I am working on confronting my bitterness and trusting God that this friendship is still worth my heart’s efforts even if there may not be an equal response.
I have to say, I am very thankful for the friendships that I have. I have so many people around me who I can turn to – when my heart is willing and I feel bold enough to reach out. As my friend Rachel has said in her blog, quoting someone; every Christian needs a Paul, a Barnabas, and a Timothy…
“A Paul is a mentor like friend that can teach you, encourage growth in you, and a godly person that you admire and aspire to be like. A Barnabas is a friend that is in the same place as you, so you can walk through life together, encouraging and sharpening each other in the Lord. A Timothy is a person that you pour yourself into, walk along side and can actively support and encourage in their walk.
This is how God made us, not just to receive but to give”
I know that I have each of these, and that means I am truly blessed