Saturday, January 3, 2015

Friendship - Sometimes It Sucks

OK, most of the time, it shouldn't. And most of the time, friendships don't suck. Really.

But relationships... they aren't easy.

There is a reason why marriages fall apart.  There is a reason why friendships come to a bitter end.  There is a reason why family members turn on each other.

Feelings are hard. Relationships are hard.

As parents, we try to teach our kids to be kind to everyone, to be friends with most, to be discerning when choosing those closest friendships. But those are things that we, as adults, even struggle with.

Our circle of friends influence us and how we think and what we do.

Years ago, in my first marriage, my first husband and I started to spend a lot of time with friends who were recently divorced. I thought my mom was nuts when she said that spending time with all those recently divorced people will lead us to divorce.  But we did end up broken apart. Not just because our friends were divorced. We had serious problems between from before the day we spoke our vows. But having a social circle where the others in the group had a different kind of freedom... where they seemed to have found an answer to the problems... it introduced divorce as an idea. As a living thing.

The friends we choose influence the things we do, the things we say, the choices we make.  The friends we choose determine how we spend our time, our resources, our efforts.

I think there is a key word there.


Not everyone in our circles have to be our friends. Sometimes, there just isn't anything in common. Sometimes, there are life choices that just don't mesh with your own values. Sometimes, there isn't time to really build that new relationship and foster it to friendship.


We have to carefully choose the people we call friends. There is  quote I saw recently -

We need to choose people to be our friends who will make us live better.

That can be tough.

I'm going to call out my closest girlfriend - Christy. Christy is a special person in my life. We have a lot in common even if we don't do many activities in common anymore. She is very involved in community theatre and I'm very involved in my church and now in tae kwon do with my family. But we have core values that are the same. We have a sense of humor that is similar. We love diverse foods and cultures and experiences. But most of all, I know that if I'm making a mistake, she will call me on it. And if it's a big one that has the potential to really harm people, she's the person that would go to my husband or someone else to help her in helping me.

And she knows I would do the same for her.

I remember back in college I had a friend (we're still friends) and his life was unraveling. He was spinning out of control. I was trying my best to be a good friend but the relationship fell apart. When I opened up to my mom about it, she made the choice to contact this friend's dad and fill him in on what was going on. Because she would have wanted someone to step in to help me in the same way. At the time, it was mortifying for him and for me. Looking back, credit is given as it being a pivotal life saving choice.

See? Sometimes friendship sucks. Because you have to do hard things. Or you have to decide to step away from the relationship because it's unhealthy for you. Or you realize that someone just doesn't mesh with you. Or you see that the friendship may lead you down the wrong path.

Friendship ending... or pulling apart... or going through uncomfortable growth? That part of friendship sucks. Because it can be painful. Because you have to make hard choices.

A strong, close friendship gives you someone you can trust, someone you can laugh with, someone you can share with, someone you can open up to, someone you can rely on. And sometimes to get to the point where a friendship is truly helping you live better... you have to go through some painful growth in the process. But getting through that difficult growth can have incredible rewards.

Christy gave me a gift for Christmas that really touched me and really spoke to the value of our friendship. It's 2 hearts side by side and connected. And it says "I'm glad in God's design, your path crossed mine."

That's important to me, personally. Each relationship is God given - whether it's a relationship with strong benefit to my life (like my marriage or my friendship with Christy) or whether it's a relationship where I learn from mistakes I made or mistakes they made (like my first marriage).  Every interaction, every crossing of paths, whether they run together for a while or they simply cross for a short time, every interaction is designed to teach, to ignite growth. Every person in my life, every joy, every pain, every frustration, every sadness... it all helps me grow in God's purpose.

Doesn't mean that hurt feelings don't hurt. Doesn't mean I don't get petty. Doesn't mean I don't make mistakes. Doesn't mean that things are magically easy. But it does mean that I can understand that this hard time will lead to something positive, something in His plan for my life or my friend's life or in someone else's life. And that at least helps me gain perspective on the hard circumstances and better see the blessings in the good times.

Friendship. Sometimes it sucks. Sometimes it's life saving. Most of the time, it's a joy and a blessing.

sig jan 2014 photo owlsig.jpg

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