“One who has unreliable friends soon comes to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.” -Proverbs 18:24
[Part 2 of “Things You Learn About Making Friends As An Adult“]
It’s a no brainer that Jesus is the best friend anyone could have, but that’s not the premise of my post today. I want to talk about earthly relationships because no matter how spiritual you may be, you need at least one true friend. But here’s the thing I frequently ask myself about modern day friendships: Why do people seem to be so surface level these days and why are we settling for this?
There may be a select number of humans on this planet who legitimately have no or very little depth to themselves and surface relationships are all they can muster. But I believe that the majority of humanity (if not all of it, having been made in the image of God) are deep beings, whether we think of ourselves this way or not. Our Creator is easily the most complex and intricate Being with vast wells of knowledge and personhood to be explored. Why would that which He created not be similarly designed?
If you agree with this line of reasoning then you may be someone who is fed up with the evolving artificial nature of friendships and is searching for more. If you are such a person then we are on the same quest. A quest to seek out and build deep connections with deep people. But as I’ve been observing the relational habits of some within my sphere of influence I couldn’t help but study myself. When I decided to be painfully honest with myself I saw that the same flaky, indifferent, apathetic and selfish tendencies I have been on the receiving end of by “friends” for over a decade have become my very own behaviors. In my frustration with those who never pushed themselves beyond the status quo relationally I adopted the “if ya can’t beat ’em, join ’em” philosophy…unknowingly. For that I am ashamed.
I’m not one to give up and give in, but as much as surface level relationships have driven me crazy for so long, I have become the very thing I hate. Sure, I could blame that on a thousand things but what’s the point. All I know is I want it to stop.
I want to be the friend to others that I want to have in my own life, and I want to be that person whether the same loyalty and compassion is returned to me. When I say I will do something I want to do it. Not make tentative plans and bail the second something more appealing is presented. I want my ‘yes’ to be ‘yes’ and my ‘no’ to be ‘no’. (Matthew 5:37). I want to answer your text and not ignore your call. I want to be trusted, relied upon, and enjoyed. I want to be a real friend. A friend that is there when life is hard. Who doesn’t abandon. Who isn’t afraid of a friend’s pain and isn’t too proud to share her own. A friend who loves unconditionally but doesn’t shy away from telling the truth, even if it hurts. A friend who DOES. Because love does. Love is more than words and intentions, it is steady, consistent actions that show commitment and build intimacy.
Now this might sound overly intense when I’m just talking about friendship. You might be thinking this level of care or concern would be better reserved for a romance with my significant other. But I would counter your perspective with the argument that one or two real friendships are wildly vital to the overall health of a person. If we depend solely on a romantic partner to meet our needs and expectations of life we will always live disappointed. And if we spend all our years reserving commitment, consistency, and unconditional love for this “romance” that will *eventually* befall us I believe we waste years of memory making and the joy of caring for and pouring ourselves out for others. Not to mention the practice of loving. Yes, you can practice love. In fact, I believe a couple of friendships deeply committed and invested in make us immensely more capable at loving our future spouse appropriately.
At times in life its felt like people are only out to use one another. They’ll only stick around as long as you are convenient or meet some need of theirs. Take a hard look around those who surround you and ask yourself: How many of these people truly love me? How many would cry with me? Who has ever really heard my heart and believed in my dreams? How many of these people tell it to me straight or love me enough to step in if I were going down a bad path in life? Do my “friends” really want the best for me? Are they pushing me to become better, or are we simply commiserating and existing together? Would they still stick with me if my life was flipped upside down? If the people you consider friends aren’t doing anything to better you or go deep with you then, my friend, you have a bunch of acquaintances; or perhaps leeches, depending. Spending time with people who I know don’t actually care for me makes me feel more lonely than if I had never spent time with them at all. Spare me. Spare yourself.
The fact is, millennial’s in America are lonely. Behind our perfectly polished social media accounts, unending Facebook likes, “busy” schedules, and big plans for the future we are unmistakably lonely. We lack deep connection and the satisfaction of being truly understood by anyone. Loneliness isn’t a bad thing unless it goes uncatered to for an extended period of time. It is simply there to remind you that you are a deep being in need of deep relationship and connection. When you feel this feeling it doesn’t mean you should jump into a romance again or do something drastic (which I’ve made the mistake of doing…bad idea!), it just means it’s time to 1) Fall in love with yourself and the bliss of solitude 2) Go deeper with Jesus Who is “a friend that sticks closer than a brother”(Proverbs 18:24) and 3) Eventually become proactive about meeting new people. Don’t cover up or resist the feelings of loneliness. Allow it to prompt you to stop settling for those who make you feel empty, alone, or dissatisfied and press on to find a person or two who brings out your best.
Just remember the Golden Rule: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”
Practice makes perfect. I care strongly about loving my future spouse right but he’s not here yet and based on my poor relational maintenance lately I’ve got a lot to learn about loving. So I am committing myself to change and to love others the way I would like to be loved; the way Jesus loved. A wise man once said, “Be the change you wish to see in the world.” So that’s exactly what I’ll do. I know it won’t be easy and I’ll fall short, but I’m going to give it my best. It’s a new year, anything could happen….
You with me?