It is easy to be self-sacrificing in friendship when it is reciprocated
We’ve all been there. We have friendships that either ‘work’ or they don’t. People that come and go in our lives – and things we can’t understand. And like Bob Cratchit says in “A Muppet Christmas Carol” – ‘Life is full of meetings and partings’ – so true – but it is still hard to reconcile ourselves to that point sometimes. I like the ‘meetings’ – but I’m NOT crazy about the ‘partings’.
Friendship in its most basic form is this:
Two hearts that are connected by a common unseen element – where love and respect is shared. Secrets are safe and trust is earned and kept. You know you will not be betrayed because they understand you – and you understand them. And you encourage each other – cheer each others accomplishments and hurt when they hurt.
My good friend Deanna said it best the other day – ‘a friend has no hidden agenda – a friend listens and loves’.
When you have a trusted friend – you don’t even mind carrying stress and burdens from them – especially when you know that they are doing the same for you. You know who the ‘real’ ones are. The ones who stick around – don’t get squeamish at the first signs of ‘trouble’ or ‘drama’. They are the ones who are able to ride it out – and they stay. Offering words of comfort and life – just the very thing we need at the time. They don’t do it for them – they do it for you. They don’t judge or lecture – they just simply love.
But what happens when friends don’t understand? They seem to be judging – or they do and say something weird? For no reason? Oh you know what I mean – something great happens to you – and they don’t cheer you on – but decide to go ‘silent’ on you. Even when you always seem to be ‘cheering’ them on! What happens when you don’t feel that things are ‘reciprocated‘? What then? When you’re worn out trying to figure out why trust was broken – and misunderstandings take place? What happens when it isn’t possible to simply ‘talk it out’? When things are complicated and there is no trust or understanding any more? What then? And what happens when they disappear for no reason – at least not one that you can understand? And no explanation is offered? Someone who you just knew would be a friend forever. What do you do? How do you react?
I don’t know about you – but I choose my friendships carefully. I have been known to give my trust away to wrong people and it has made me careful. But I am also aware that I have a memory like an elephant. Sometimes it’s a curse and not a blessing – and can easily make me ‘self protect’ rather than giving people a chance.
Jesus tells us that we need to love others as ourselves. We need to ‘turn the other cheek’ and to forgive many times – even if we don’t want to. Even if we don’t understand. Even when it is NOT reciprocated. Especially then. He instructs us to do this – not for them – but for us. There is healing in forgiveness – and a release that happens in our own heart – when we simply do this.
It is interesting to note – that in these times of rejection and hurt – in the silent treatment from a friend – or someone I thought was my friend – the powerful words of Jesus come back to me – and I come to realize that sometimes my love is a selfish kind of love.
A kind of love that says, “I will give – if you give back – I will show compassion – if you treat me right – I will cheer you on – only if you cheer me on – I will love you – when you earn my love.”
It is sobering. It is sad. And – it is true. For all of us. At the base of each of us – is an ugly selfish sinner – capable of terrible thoughts – wrong motives and hurtful agendas. We are hopelessly ‘prone to wander’. Our only hope is the love and grace of Jesus – given freely to all who will ask. On our own we mess it up pretty badly. Jesus knew we would. That’s why He came. To save us from ourselves. To clean us up and set us on the right path – even after we ‘blow it’ – even after things seem so hopelessly lost. Even when there is nothing else that we can do. It is then that He steps in and turns even the most hopeless situation – around. He does the work in our own hearts. He gets to the root of the problem. The problem is not everyone else – It starts with me. OUCH!!
As I write this I am aware that I am struggling with my own ‘issues’ in my life – some that are resolved and some unfortunately – that are not and may never be. Some within my power to fix and others – out of my hands. It isn’t up to me. So I – hope and pray. And I work on me. Maybe some day – I will get it right. With God’s help – I’m sure going to try – but I’m going to make mistakes – I’m going to get my feelings hurt – I’m going to self-protect and I’m going to accuse – because it feels better to blame – than to point the finger at myself.
I believe I need to have an attitude of true humility when reaching out to my friends – the ones I have in My life now and cherish – and my new friends that I haven’t even met yet. I need to expect that there are going to be times when I will not understand what is going on – and I’m going to try very hard to look into my own heart for hidden motives and agenda – instead of blaming others. And when I do reach out to others I need to let my attitude toward them be an attitude of giving – without expecting anything in return. To love them unconditionally – just as Christ has loved me – no matter what. And if Christ can accept me – with all my flaws and imperfections – then I can also be free to love you – with no fear of rejection – and with no guarantee that your love will be reciprocated.
I also want to say – that although I love everyone – there are only certain ones that will be close friends – those that I will let into my confidences and my world. And those that will do the same. And those I will not. And those ‘others’ – either through something that has happened – or something unhealthy that I sense – it is not wise to continue to heap on myself ’emotional’ abuse from them. Those that I thought at one time were my friends. Sometimes I have to assigned them ‘an outer orbit’ – while continuing to love them as Jesus would. And sometimes – I have to be okay with that – hard as it is. And leave it there.
I want to appreciate life’s blessings – EVERY DAY – and the wonderful people who are in it. I want to know that I can be a giver – even when it is not returned to me. And when it is – I know I have found another good friend and ‘gift’ from God. It’s like God smiling and whispering, ‘you’re finally getting it – now treat them right!’
And I’m happy to report that after living this long – I’m finally getting it – and I have many wonderful friends in my life who have all played such an important role on my continued journey. Strong men and women who I am in daily communication with – who inspire me, lift me up and reciprocate friendship and love – in the most basic form. I am blessed. And I pray that you too – would be equally as blessed with a love that is reciprocated.