So… I’ve been struggling to figure out what friendship is. It seems like something most people figure out on the playground, but I’m still working on it. Clearly I’m a late bloomer. 🙂
A couple of weeks ago, I read a post on the Gospel Coalition blog – written by Mark Driscoll about friendship. You can read the entire post by clicking here. It’s actually a series, but Part two hit home the most for me. You can also go back and read this post I wrote a couple of weeks ago about friendship. Basically, in my attempts to be friendly to everyone, I’ve caused everyone to expect deep, mutual friendship with me… that I can’t (and unfortunately never intended) to live out.
First, we need a working definition of what a friend is. A friend is a trustworthy peer with whom we mutually choose to lovingly live by pursuing intentionally, giving privileged access, and serving for God’s glory and their good (Mark Driscoll wrote this in Part 2).
Okay… problem 1
I don’t trust very many people, I pursue everyone in range, and people believe I’m giving them privileged access when I’m not.
For those of you who haven’t figured it out, Katie (that’s me) has a problem trusting and yet is capable of telling the entire world what she’s struggling through without allowing any access to her heart.
I remember one Sunday prayer thing in particular, when I told my entire church (people I called friends) that I needed prayer because I’d lost my job, my dad had a heart attack, my sister was having pretty serious health problems, my brilliant A+ nephew was getting into trouble at school, and some lady claimed to be the illegit child of my great-grandfather.
I said it all matter-of-factly and didn’t shed a tear.
That’s what I’m talking about.
Also, all it takes is an instant for me to disengage my heart, while it takes hours to engage. There are a few people I automatically trust because they’ve respectfully taken care of my heart for years. With most, though, I will tell them everything and show them nothing.
Sooo… when I tell people things about my life, they assume that we’re bonding, when really I’m just giving a factual report so they’re up to speed.
Another part of this is that I believe in genuinely appreciating EVERY person I’m with, when I’m with them. It’s flattering when someone genuinely looks at us and tells us that we’re wonderful. It’s heart-warming and encouraging. That’s why I do it. Because I believe we should see God in every person we talk with, and we should build them up. The only problem is that other people aren’t doing that. Other people use body language and whatnot to communicate their disinterest in people, which is a cue that there isn’t going to be a friendship. So I guess the question is, how do I continue to enjoy everyone while still communicating that there is going to be something closer to an acquaintance than a deep friendship.
…life invariably includes friendshift, which is when a relationship changes from a friendship to something more or less.
…we are to be friendly toward all but only friends with a few. As a pastor, this is a vital distinction. Simply because we are friendly toward dozens, hundreds, or even thousands of people does not mean they should each expect a piece of our birthday cake and a seat at our house for Christmas.
Okay, I’m not a pastor or a pastor’s wife, but this one hit me pretty hard. I’ve really been trying to include everyone in the cake. In my brain: “Aaaah! I don’t want to be a jerk. Here, take my piece! I don’t even like my birthday and I certainly never wanted a piece of my cake. Take it. Just don’t be mad at me.”
…we only have a few true friends. A real friendship takes so much time, energy, emotion, and sometimes even money, that we can only have a few true friendships… we may only have one or two truly close friends, as that is all we can handle. This explains why Jesus had only three close friends (Peter, James, and John), despite having a working relationship with the other disciples as well as fans numbering the tens of thousands who wanted to be his friend. Such people chose Jesus, but he never chose them as his friends or gave them the access he did the three.
Question: does it necessarily have to be insulting to people I don’t chose to let in? The disciples definitely argued about who was the 1st among them, and I’m wondering if that’s inevitable. In that post I wrote awhile back, I included a little about how I’ve been accused of having people compete for my friendship. Is there a way that I can avoid that? I know I could be less warm and kind to the people I don’t intend to be really close with, but that goes against my belief that we should be warm and encouraging to everyone.
I don’t get it! I’m frustrated and sad. How do I do this?
*In part three of the series, Driscoll makes this comment about how his reader probably will disagree with him about something because the reader is young, idealistic and naive. I read that and cracked up, because it’s exactly the root of my current struggles 🙂 but, oh what a way to be… way better than being old, cynical and overly suspicious.