Mastering relationships is one of life’s most challenging and rewarding pursuits.
Relationships are so… complex. Dynamic. Constantly-moving targets and shifting emotions: the pure JOY of connecting with someone, then pain when they betray us, break promises, stop caring, or just plain forget about us.
I’m seeking friends who don’t go away. Friendships that sustain new boyfriends, crazy new jobs and schedules, misunderstandings and weeks of phone tag. I want true friends. As I get older and try desperately to stay faithful to Him and who He created me to be, I’m learning such friends are nearly impossible to find.
But I have this rather annoying quality. My heart doesn’t give up on finding this love. It persists in seeking out the best in others and believing God will bless me again with close friends. It wakes me each day and tries to keep an open heart despite being disrespected, manipulated, envied, underestimated. It keeps me believing I will find true connection with someone else one day, true friendship. I refuse to accept that it doesn’t exist.
Why? Because I’ve tasted it! In Colorado Springs. With my mentor Patti. In South Africa. At Bimini Bay Church. I don’t seek it out with non-believers because I know love can only come from its Author Himself! He is the only One that helps us overcome ourselves, our bad habits and cycles in order to put someone else first in our lives. It’s His love that pours out through us.
At my job, I encounter hundreds of people every week. It’s like a live course in sociology, and it’s taught me much. One thing I’ve witnessed is how most adults are super fake with each other. At some point they stopped being real and now revolve their conversations around gossip, shallow discussions about the weather and economies, or competitive contests to see whose kids are smarter, thighs are thinner, or husbands are banking more. Some days it’s an all-out Fake Fest!
I’m stunned how much people change from day to day (and how others remain the exact same), how they talk about their in-laws (or their own kids), how their talk doesn’t match their walk. I see the same people come in like clockwork and watch how they respond to life — to struggles, to pain and surgery, bad weather and bratty kids, and to me the “front desk girl”. Some don’t give me the time of day, to be expected, while others treat me as one of their own. I help people who aren’t appreciative or are downright demanding. I hear boasts of brand-new yachts and business successes.
Then I see others, the humble few. The amazingly persistent who face serious trials but ALWAYS come with a bright smile on their faces (incredible to see every day!). People undaunted by challenges. Yes, many curse our country and political climate, but these refreshing others find the best in each circumstance. I see them bite their tongues. I see them help each other.
I also notice the hurting ones, the withdrawn ones who don’t reach out or are so entrenched in their pain that they fail to respond when someone reaches out to them. I hear thin women obsess about their physiques and be threatened by a beautiful woman in their midst. I witness miscommunications and hurt feelings. I’ve learned that some people, no matter what I do, may never smile back. Their bitterness at life, at unmet needs and burst dreams, is etched on their faces. It’s on the tip of their tongue. It sours today for them because they’re still heartsick over yesterday and unable to envision happier tomorrows.
As I’ve adjusted to life away from my family, I’m beginning to experience similar struggles. In my family’s absence, I’m not opening up to people like I once did. Part of my heart seems hardened beyond repair, unable to forget the many friends I’ve invested in who turned away or just plain weren’t loyal. They only wanted a piece of me, not the whole thing — but I’m not a “piece of me” type of girl. I’m either in or I’m out. I’ve found so few friends with the same approach to friendship that I’ve about given up.
And I see that… I see that in them, the members of my country club. I see some who don’t engage others or make eye contact. For the first time ever, I’m beginning to understand their distance. I hear them talk about spouses who don’t treat them well, at all, who tear them down, neglect them, and demand their own way. And lately, I’m surprised to find myself empathizing!
On days like today, my mind hops back on the “merry-go-round” wondering when I’ll find that magical, faithful friend. The Bible says there’s a friend who sticks closer than a brother. I know that Friend as Jesus, and yes He most certainly does. He doesn’t go away. But I’d really love to have such a friend here on earth. I need a confidante, a best friend, the first one I’ll call when my day goes well – or takes a nosedive off an unforeseen cliff, who’ll laugh with me when my week is a disaster (like last week!). Someone who won’t judge… or compete… or be threatened… one who won’t walk away when I need them most or when they fall head over heels for another. Someone who’s down for a night in as much as a big night out. Numerous people have filled this role in my lifetime, but none have lasted. So why do I still have this longing – a longing God hasn’t met?
I wonder if He can fill it, if He’s designed to? Nothing is impossible for Him, but I wonder if He allows certain voids in our lives to encourage us to pursue earthly relationships. It’s not just “Me + You vs. the world”. I believe He’s created room in our hearts for others, otherwise I’d be content in Him alone.
And where, Father, are theirs?