Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Friendships without a hook

We tend to want our friendships to all fit into a neat little predictable package but the truth is . . . they don’t. Since we’re all unique individuals relating to other unique individuals, each friendship will be different.

I prefer friendships where the relationship is mutual. I absolutely love it when my friends initiate some sort of communication with me. A phone call or an email just to say hello means a lot to me and makes me feel like they care and value me as a friend.

The friendships that I view as being one sided are very difficult. I get tired of always being the one to make the contact and eventually I find myself pulling back from those friendships. I want some indication from those friends that they care so I end up putting them on a point system. I compare the number of times they’ve contacted me with the number of times I’ve contacted them but that’s a surefire recipe for hurt.

With some friends, I have a real heart to heart connection that goes deeper than other friendships. These get complicated when I feel like they’re one sided. These types of friendships are very emotionally stressful so, sometimes it becomes necessary to pull back from some things for a time in order to avoid further hurt.

I believe we need to come to the place where we understand that God is there to meet our needs and he will sometimes ask us to be a friend to someone who isn’t meeting our emotional needs. It may be, that during this season, the other person needs our friendship and encouragement and God wants us to give freely with no strings attached.

Darin Hufford has an excellent teaching on giving and in it he says, “If you have love, giving will arise from that love. If giving does not arise from your love, it’s not love; it’s just fond of.” In other words, we’ll give because it’s the nature of love to give; it’ll simply be a natural outflow of the love Father has given us.

Learning to give up expectations and to love freely is difficult. It’s a process that I’ve entered into and it’s been hard. I like to be in control and to know how my relationships will work out but I’m slowly learning to just let those friendships be what they’re going to be.

Darin once told me that we tend to care more about what people do than we care about why they do it. I believe this is true. It’s easy to get so self-focused that we don’t look for the reason why. Maybe if we understood the “why”, the “what” wouldn’t be so painful.

God is our source for all things and, as we learn to look to him to provide the emotional support we need, he’ll provide in ways we never imagined. As we allow him to meet our needs, we’ll no longer be controlled by our expectations of others. Although learning to give up expectations is difficult, I believe it’s the only way to successfully navigate through the difficult and unpredictable waters of relationships.


lionwoman said...

Aida, thanks for this post, it's great and needed to be said. This has been one of my biggest struggles. Why do I always have to be the one to reach out? Why don't people reciprocate? While I believe there is some legitimate concern here, there is a bigger picture as you say. I'm finally learning to get past this slowly but surely as my life takes on a new order while I live in the wild. I'm learning not to set myself up in unhealthy non-reciprocal relationships anymore. Some can be a good thing, but others are just not healthy. And learning how to love whether they seem to love me back or not. It's a process, for sure. But one I really want and need to go through. Thank you for being my friend :-)

Free Spirit said...

Hey Aida,
Seems so unfortunate that most of my friendships from the past, that came from 'church' (and pretty much all of them did) quickly dissolved after I left church. That was the hook. Think like me... do things like me... and I'll be your friend. Once I find out how different you are... SEE YA! I've actually got a few friends right now that don't know my "radical views" and my departure from church... I'm afraid to bring it up, for fear that the 'friendship' will end - I wouldn't care so much, if it weren't for my kids who are friends with their kids. - Don't want them to lose their playmates. - Uggh.
And, I really like these people, but I get a sense that they (like all the friends I've already lost) couldn't tolerate my "rebellion".

Aida said...

Thanks, Amy. Some relationships are unhealthy and we need to recognize that and avoid those. In my insecurity, there have been times when I would take any friendship. I didn’t recognize an unhealthy relationship until I was in it. Now that I’m no longer desperate to have friends, friendships just seem to happen without much effort on my part.

Tammy, I understand. Those conditional type of “friendships” aren’t really friendships at all. They’re just bait to keep us attached to the institution.