I have a friend, well actually 2, who currently struggle with their identity in Christ, the world and relationships with others; one in her mid-twenties and the other close to my age (gray-haired era). The similarities between these two struggles I find intriguing due to the 40+ year span in their ages. Both searching for purpose, friendship, direction in life and wanting to feel valued; accepted for who they are – not for what they do or have to offer. Both pursue relationships and yet do not feel pursued in return. Both feel if they stopped giving, calling, and texting, emailing, making arrangements for get-togethers, etc. they would never hear from others; or a long time would pass. One of the ladies shared, “I guess I really don’t have friends do I? I have no clue what makes a real friendship.” “Why do I feel like the proverbial children’s song, ‘Nobody loves me, everybody hates me, I’m gonna eat some worms…’ ”?
What does define a friend? Who decides what makes friendship – friendship? What makes one friendship more special than another? What does it take to be a friend?
Merriam Webster defines friends as, “one attached by affection or esteem; an acquaintance; one that is not hostile. I had to chuckle at “not hostile” several times lately I have been the recipient of a wee bit of hostility. 🙂 🙂 😉
It’s important to remember all friendship’s do not function or look the same. Some friends come into our life for a moment in time – such as working together, doing a ministry/community volunteer project together; mentoring others or sharing in a Bible study or class together. When the common denominator of whatever threw you together ends so does the relationship. Sometimes it ends slowly and sometimes almost immediately.
We have friends who come into our life for a season. These relationships develop out of need, time or place. We live in a society which is constantly on the move. Most people no longer live in the city in which they grew-up, or live in their first home as an adult, or work at their first job, etc. We move from place-to-place as the job and family needs change. We live in a very fluid society. We don’t need to move cities to have relationships change. Sometimes simply moving neighborhood’s changes our relationships. When we are young mom’s raising a family we develop friendships with other sports moms, childcare moms, etc. As our children grow often the relationships change and we move on to other things and develop new relationships; leaving those earlier relationships behind. Relationships become strained when interests change or distance of miles comes between friends. Relationships take work. Life moves quickly and a lot vies for our attentions. It’s not that we don’t like those friends anymore; life has simply pulled us in a different direction.
Finally, we have friends who come into our life for a life-time. These are those rare friends where time, distance and doing life together or apart, do not diminish the relationship; where the bond of friendship crosses all barriers. These relationships never feel like work and you never doubt their integrity. These are special gifts of God.
In my life I am privileged to have experienced all 3 kinds of relationships. My friends are not alone in asking the what if questions. I think all of us have asked, if I stopped doing the Bible studies, the mentoring, the ministry’s the volunteering and working, or ____________ would my phone ring? Would I receive invitations to social functions, to sharing a lunch or dinner together? Would anyone be there for me if I stopped doing the pursuing; if I stopped giving my time to others? Would anyone even notice?
Could Jesus feel the same way? What if He stopped doing and giving of Himself to the world – – – to me; would the relationship end? Would I notice Him not being around anymore? How long would it take for me to say, “I haven’t heard from you in a while Jesus – everything okay? How are you doing today?” What would you like to do today? Is my relationship founded on what Jesus brings to the relationship or on what I bring? Jesus is very intentional in our relationship. Am I intentional in my relationship towards Him? Sadly, too often my relationship with Christ is all one-sided… His.
How awesome is this… just as I am about to press the button to make my blog live on the web my phone rings, and I receive a call from one of my special life-time friends. We shared for well over an hour. We pray together, laugh together, challenge and encourage each other as we share life together – she in one state I in another.
Until next time,
“But that is not all; we rejoice because of what God has done through our Lord Jesus Christ, who has now made us God’s friends.” Romans 5:11