Writing this is hard for me since it’s something I still struggle with and never know if I’ll master it: true friendship. These are words that means a lot of different things for people but for me it’s something that occurs rarely.
My feelings come and go when concerning people who I call friends. Friendships can be painful, rewarding, and sometimes elicit every kind of emotion mixed into one. I am extremely picky when it comes to choosing my friends. Many people I know are acquaintances or even friends I know and I talk to – but aren’t in-depth, truthful, honest and dependable “best friends.”
It might sound harsh in saying this, but I think most of us relate to those assessment times when we look at a relationship and ask if we’re really friends at all, or good friends or possibly even best friends. We all have family, we all have acquaintances, but we also all have that “short list” of people we call friends. For me, it’s a very short list.
Now that list can shift or change depending on circumstances that happen in our lives such as graduating college, getting married, having kids, or moving away. I must say these life transitions are hard times for me, as it’s always hard to let go of friendships. These are people I care about that I have invested in, that I have developed a bond with over the years. It’s hard when something big happens and it’s just over. Since it’s hard for me, it also feel weird when it seem simple to others. It’s hard to grasp and understand how some are able to just adapt and change – and walk away.
I put a lot of pressure on myself when I invest in a friendship and to see it crumble breaks my heart, makes me want to cry, infuriates me and makes me not want to forget the friends who have cared about me, valued me, and strived to make me better. Henry Cloud, a renowned author said it best: “Everything has seasons, and we have to be able to recognize when something’s (someone’s) time has passed and be able to move on and into the next season. Everything that is alive requires pruning as well, which is a great metaphor for endings.”
These words by Cloud hit home. Endings are going to occur, things are going to evolve, even relationships: friendships and acquaintances are going to change but it’s how we interpret, deal with, and move past those changes that will be a key factor in how it develops us and grows us into a better and stronger person.
We all desire friendships, community, and companionship and GOD created us for just that. But He also set some things to be here for a season and a purpose. In Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 God shows us that in all aspects of our life there will be change. He has given us gifts in our friends, roommates, significant others, children. Yet this revolving door is present and always shaking life up: as one person steps out another steps in but their is a constant person that we need to cling to.
There is a friend we forget and it’s Jesus. Jesus reminds us that He himself will never change. “Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and forever” (Hebrews 13:8). He is all we absolutely need, He is all we should desire and through Him comes all other good things. He is the only thing that in unchanging and never revolving in or out of our lives.
Jesus is the one constant friend we always have no matter the good times or bad times. How we forget this, how we forget him when it feels like we can’t deal with other changes in our lives. Jesus is the consistent friend we should all desire – the anchor in the tempest of life.
We should and need to refer to him as our friend because he is the one who cares for us most, wants what’s best for us always. He will never let us down and will always be there to comfort us and pick us back up when we need someone. So when you feel like life’s changes are too much and there’s so much craziness going on with all the changes – look to Him because that revolving door may be going around but Jesus is the one true friend who is right beside you through it all!
I relate to this very much so! Thank you for sharing and providing a lovely reminder! Blessings! Xoxo
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Blessings! Friendship is a struggle for all of us! I think our next post will be digging a little deeper into friendship too, later this week! Thanks for sharing our faith journey with us!
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Of course, I will keep a look out! Thank you! Blessings! Xoxo
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I relate to this too.
At first your opening remarks seemed natural to me, and I was sensing a shared understanding. But then I noticed you said “master it” and those words just kept echoing and then troubling me. I related completely at first, but those words began troubling me, making me think I might be going about this wrong.
I have intentional friendships sometimes. There is a lot packed up in that idea that I could share, but you didn’t ask, and I don’t have time. But I do target people for friendship. And I find there are political ploys involved. If a friend is rich in cash, then I stand to gain money in the friendship, if the friend is rich in fame/notoriety, then I stand to benefit from that… If a friend is wise, I stand to gain wisdom. There seems to be this subtle utilitarianism in it.
And sometimes I seek friendship that I can benefit from like that. I wrote a book (actually a few of them) that I would like to prepare and seek publication with, and so I taxed a few acquaintances to go deeper with me in hopes that I could benefit – I ask for favor and favors. I got feedback from a few. Feedback that is helpful. Some seem just too busy to really help.
Then there are people I find who appear needy. Lost lambs of various kinds. I think, Jesus wants that lamb back in the fold. How can I connect to that person, lead them to Jesus. I tend to see these friendships as opportunities to give of my assets. The poor, the lonely, and so forth.
So there is this give and take thing. And it feels utilitarian. And I don’t know anyone where this doesn’t come to play at least a little, and sometimes a lot.
I have a couple of really OLD friends. I am nearly 50 now, and so the longevity in these friendships takes on a weird kind of value in its own rite. I think of my old high school buddy. We still talk once in a while. We reconnect. But our friendship is a curiosity. We have very little in common – especially as matters of faith and deep values. But we have MEMORIES that we share of silly youthful things that we carry in our hearts that have no trading value in the marketplaces of things or ideas. He is baptized, but not so much as an expression of faith as a means to get married to a foreign girl who comes from a state-religion culture. And our shared memories are about as stupid as Beavis and Butt-head. But we have 33 years of shared history, and though there is a sense of how shallow it all has been, it almost needs the word LOVE to describe it. But that is not a comfortable fit at all.
And I am still troubled by the words “master it” in relation to friendship.
I came out of my mother, the day I was born, and they plopped me on her belly where, she said, I sat looking at her and she wondered what I was thinking. I was new to this. I had done nothing to deserve this or to gain any favor, and the fact of my presence was life changing and full of demands. My presence caused her great bewilderment, pain, fear, joy, and hope. But I did not master a bit of that. I just was along for the ride and in severe need of – everything. But she sacrificed, she and my dad, and made a home for me. And I grew in their love.
I think of my relationship with Jesus, and the terms “master it” suddenly feel disastrous. A category mistake, but one that brings my eye to a lens that when I look though it I think might effect the way I look at all friendships. What is this political thing? Why is there any utilitarian nature to this at all? And yet doesn’t St. Paul talk to Philemon about the usefulness/value of Onesimus? What is mastering relationship? But don’t I want to do it right?
I am mindful that one of the proverbs my dad gave me (not a biblical proverb, but a fatherly one) was this: Friendships go deeper around weddings and funerals. Basically, he was saying that when you join people in their major milestone celebrations in life and when you show up during their hardest trials, your friendship has a way of deepening. I think this has something to do with those memories. A lot of life is about memories. God remembered Israel in Egypt.
There is a lot of mystery in this. And yet, I too crave friendship. I want the kind of friend who will celebrate my feelings, my memories, my thoughts, my cares, and who I reciprocate these things with. A friend who when they are in need or when they are in abundance thinks to call me and whom I value so deeply that I sense an urgency to come join in those moments, and who reciprocates this with me. Someone with whom I share vulnerability that is not a political ploy or utilitarian opportunity. But also someone with whom this is somehow all natural, and I don’t have to plot it all out with to enjoy.
Here is a fairly recent post I wrote that I sense has some tangential connection to yours. Maybe…
I am not sure if my thoughts are resonating with yours, but I think they do, or else I would not have bothered to respond so extensively. I know this much: I feel encouraged at the level where I recognize I am not as alone in these thoughts as it seems sometimes. Not that I share lots of connection with you, but maybe at this important place, I share this important idea which seems rare.
Anyway, I hope we are connected here. The idea gives me some peace.
God bless you,
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Great insight! Thank you for sharing so much, because it’s an overwhelmingly large topic for sure! “Mastering” could be a poor word choice on our part – there’s a distinction to be made between mastering the art of being a friend (maybe a worthwhile pursuit?) and mastering a friend (never a healthy pursuit!). But it is definitely a word that resonates with how we struggle and grapple to create worthwhile relationships in life – and how those are so constantly overturned and in flux – but yet we can always rely on on relationship to be there. For our part, we will spend a lifetime trying to master how to be Christ’s friend; yet we can always rest in peace knowing that he doesn’t struggle to be our friend!
I have often struggled with friendship as a pastor. I have people in my church who love me & share with me, but I cannot get too close. I must choose what depth of confidence I can go to in each relationship. Finding one good friend to be accountable to is a bit hard, but I think necessary. Just remember they will let you down; forgive, learn, move on, trust Christ. Good blog!
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Agreed! One thing of advice from someone who does lay ministry, find someone OUTSIDE your ministry circle. They can speak into your situation in unique ways, but also will be better at being confidential. I like to find people in other forms of ministry or at other churches who can challenge me but also have that distance that makes being open and getting closer more possible. How weird is that? Because they are more distant, you can get closer. But I think you know what I mean!
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