Posts Tagged With: friendship

The Definition of Friendship

 

I know a girl who, when she was in grade school, was asked to write down the name of her best friend in the class on a slip of paper. Her teacher instructed everyone in the class to…but she refused. That same teacher later called the

girl’s mother to tell her that out of all of the slips from the rest of the class the little girl’s name appeared the most; the girl who refused to choose one, to say one person as a best friend was a best friend to so many others. They called her their best friend. Maybe they didn’t have anyone else. Things are so simple in childhood, and yet they are echoes of what is to come.  That girl isn’t little anymore, she’s all grown up, and she feels so alone. Life is tragic, and so often I’ve found that though each of us are surrounded by people most of us feel alone, misunderstood, friendless… Through 7 cups, through everyday encounters in the workplace, in my people place (the school), on facebook. This truth keeps recurring–this overwhelming feeling of aloneness that overcomes the minds of individuals, despite our connected culture, despite our interactions, despite all the best friends catchphrases, and the images we paste on social media of us smiling and surrounded by people, I have come to the realization that most of us feel alone.

I wonder if this is different from, say, ten years ago when life was slower and connections, though fewer, were perhaps more meaningful with depth, or maybe this is an occurrence that has been as pervasive as now ever since man’s fall in the Garden of Eden? Do all of ya’ll have any thoughts on that? Loneliness will not exist in Heaven. What a sweet, relieving thought. But for now it must be dealt with in the long nights, yes, but also in the days when we paste on our happy face whilst surrounded by people, when we practice our small talk skills exchanging recipes and meaningless anecdotes in the attempt to make conversation, doing our best to keep deep or controversial things left by the wayside.  That’s a pet peeve of mine. What is the point of interaction void of meaning? It’s stupid. Chitchat is ridiculous. Let’s talk about the meaning of life not the salad dressing you made for last night’s dinner. Mayhap I’m weird, and thus alone. Depth scares people, I think. But I’ve found it can also attract them. Ask people about themselves and as they grow to trust you they’ll talk for hours. Ask about their struggles and their thoughts and fears. That, for me, is an engaging conversation, that is something worth taking time to talk about.

How do you make friends? How do you find friends? What are you guys’ thoughts on that? Do you feel alone? Do you have friends? Do you feel that most of the friendships in your life are one way, or that both parties are really making an effort? I really don’t have the answers on this topic, but I have lots and lots of questions. There are many friendship related experiences and stories jumbled up in my head besides the one I shared, but that doesn’t mean I know how to make them into a cohesive whole. By now you probably know that conclusive blog posts are not a specialty of mine. On one hand I suppose it doesn’t matter if one can pinpoint the moment when someone becomes more than an acquaintance, when they become a true friend, but on the other hand maybe it does… I suspect that each of us have different definitions for that word “friendship”; I’ve been told that my definition is a rather large set of shoes to fill. I guess we just all expect the other person to go to the lengths we would go, which really isn’t reasonable.  We don’t all speak the same love language, and even when we do love someone and try to speak their love language we are not fluent in it. That is a paraphrase of some of what she said in this post , which was specifically meant to address romantic relationships, but I think that thought applies to the topic of friendship as well. At least, I hope that you could say that your significant other is a friend of yours, if not maybe there is something wrong.

For me, I have found that most of my friends walk a very different path in life than I do. If I’m honest, many of those I talk to on a day to day basis (mostly via social media, though I have met most of them) are not Christians. One that is has drastically different theological views on the topic of predestination and such than I do, another that is is a Catholic who was recently confirmed in the church, but I’m not sure how much she applies of what she knows about God. Judge those things as you will…They know I am Christian. I know people who say your best friends should all be Christians, but I ask them: What happens when things don’t quite work out that way? To a point, yes, you can choose your friends, but most Christians I know are too busy to have time to invest in a friendship with me, and I take what I can get. If “what I can get” is nonChristians is that a crime? Are they somehow lesser friends? I think not. They know my faith and they respect it, some come to me with questions and struggles, some are even yet hesitant to open up. Many of my friendships could be considered one sided…I know a lot about my friends and invest in getting to know them and they don’t know a whole lot about what I’m going through, but part of that is my fault. On one hand I am vulnerable and open, but on another I suppose you could say I’m a hard egg to crack. I like that I confuse people sometimes, I like having an air of mystery, so my aloneness may be self imposed. Maybe that is the case for others too? In any case, this post has gone on for long enough. I’d love to hear your thoughts.

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Categories: Ponderings | Tags: , , , , , | 6 Comments

Friendship

Friendship. Friendship is another word (like love) that has been slowly hollowed out until it means nothing. It should mean rich companionship; a trust, and a knowledge of one another. “It is not good for man to be alone.” these words are applicable in more ways than one. I don’t think God was talking about an empty ‘best friends forever’ when he said that, and I don’t think he was talking about simply being with and around people. You can be with and around people and still be utterly and completely alone. I’ve been there, I should know.

It’s been a long hard battle. I couldn’t tell you exactly when it started, this need for friends, but I can tell you that it did. I can tell you that I prayed for God to send me the right people for years and years. There were several failed attempts: it’s hard to be close friends with someone who lies to you, it’s hard to be foster a friendship with someone who is constantly running and doing. The longing persisted. Just because I started going to school didn’t mean I made friends. When people asked me if I had friends at school I’d usually tell them no, but I had a lot of acquaintances. There was one friendship that grew before I went into the school system:someone I had known for years. We became close acquaintances, and then miraculously we were friends. I looked forward to seeing her every Sunday at church. Bear hugs during greeting time, talking about our lives, sometimes she’d share her writing with me via e-mail mid-week. Two years with her. Every Sunday we’d sit in the front pew, talk during VBS, e-mail occasionally. She’s in college now. We’re still good friends, I miss her so much. After watching last years senior class graduate I have decided that I hate seniors (don’t take this too literally, it’s called sarcasm) you get to know and care about them and then they disappear.

About mid-schoolyear the first year there was someone else…he left at the end of the school year. Another person towards the beginning of this schoolyear, another guy, another senior, but even though we see each other frequently still we never have time to talk anymore. An aquaintence I made last year really started opening up on the bus the one day, I think another friendship is blossoming.  It’s not making friendships that I struggle with; it’s maintaining them. I don’t have a facebook, I’m not on twitter, chances I’ll see you and actually have a chance to talk are pretty slim. That’s why I’ve always liked buses, all of the above friendships (minus the first one in the last paragraph) have been made on them. I also seem to make friendships with guys more easily than girls. The whole drama thing is not my cup of tea.

I don’t have an answer to this. I don’t know why God keeps choosing to bring these people into my life only to tear them away again. I try to live with open hands, I’m not very good at it, but this hurts deep. I ask why, but I never seem to get an answer…well unless you count last night. Last night I was reading Jeremiah chapter 20, in which (among other things) Jeremiah curses the day he was born, and asks God why he has to have such a terrible life. God didn’t answer. In the next chapter you see Jeremiah delivering another unwanted message. God didn’t answer, but in a way He did: Jeremiah’s purpose was to prophesy for Him. But what is my purpose? To make friends only to lose them? To reach out to the empty, striving, and seeking and show them someone really cares? I don’t know. It’s been a long hard battle, and it is not yet done. I continue to attempt to trust God in what He is doing, I continue to try to make more than aquaintances. Maybe someday I’ll look back and understand the why.

Categories: My Life | Tags: , , , | 5 Comments

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