I started writing this post a couple of days ago, but deleted it before it was finished. My thoughts seemed jumbled and nothing was coming out the way my heart was trying to phrase it. I must have accidentally published it before I deleted it, because I received a kind comment regarding that post. I hope to get it right this time, and I hope it makes sense.
Friendship has been a struggle for me most of my life. I’m not an easy person to be around. I talk a lot, I joke too much, I’m very passionate on certain subjects…just not very easy to love. Because of this, my personality comes across at times as trying to be the center of attention or dominate conversations. I have a great mom who taught me to work on this since I was very young. But I’ve never achieved perfection in this area. Part of it is because God made me this way, and I want to be who He made me to be. The other part requires discipline and I sometimes just drop the ball. I do, however, desire to be thoughtful of others, so I am working on this. I believe that’s why finding a “kindred spirit”, as Anne would say, has been difficult for me. In fact, I’ve found my best friends over the years to be those in books. I love Anne Shirley, and Laura Ingalls Wilder. It’s just too bad that one isn’t real and the other lived long before me. We would have been close companions in real life, I think.
Ministry has made friendship one hundred times harder. My words become intermingled with my husband’s. That means, if I express my thoughts on something (anything), it automatically becomes my husband’s thoughts, as well. Even if they are solely my own opinions. I’ve gone out to eat with ladies who do not want to get to know me as a friend, they want to get my husband’s thoughts on something. I had one lady point out a few of his flaws to me. (It was very hard to hold my passionate tongue that day!) Sometimes, they want to give him a message through me – though they’d never say it like that. I’ve been asked “Why don’t we (the church) do such and such anymore?” As though I know the schematics of church activities and why we do or don’t do certain things. I’ve been accused of being unfair; of doing more with one person than another, and liking someone more than another. I’ll be honest, I wasn’t prepared to fight for something I value so much: the joy of friendship.
A cure for this would be for all women to be filled with the Holy Spirit and live like it. But, since I fall short of this mark so often myself, it’s wrong to expect it from others. I am blessed to know a few women who are truly Christ-like. They are forgiving, understanding, and loving. These precious ladies are such a joy to my life!
God created women to be relational. For instance, a man says “My name is (whatever), I am a plumber.” They never say, “I’m Jim and I’m married to Sue.” Women, on the other hand, say “I’m Valerie, I’m married to Terry and we have five children.” We point out people, men point out work. It’s how we’re made. Also, each lady is so different from another. Some women don’t need people as much as others. Some have so many hobbies they love to do alone, that they even prefer time to themselves.
The truth about friends is this: A man that hath friends must shew himself friendly: and there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother. – Proverbs 18:24 Notice the word “must”. If you want friends, there comes a great responsibility in keeping them. They need help, they need prayer, they need love, they need you to remember them, and tell them you do. When they are in a valley, you must be there for them. When they are sick, you must take soup or a dessert. Or both. You must do these things, or you are not a friend. And, when it comes down to it, all people will let you down. Your best friend will be sick at the same time you are and you are neither one able to help the other. You will forget that birthday or anniversary. You’ll be broke at Christmas. Or, you’ll move away, and no longer be there at all. In those times, there is one Friend who will never let you down, and that is the Lord.
Through my times of loneliness, I have learned a few things.
- I’ve learned that the man I married is a great friend.
- I’ve learned not to expect too much from people, after all, they’re only human.
- I’ve learned that I can get more friends if I “must”…and sometimes, I just can’t.
- And, last but not least, I’ve learned the truth of this quote by Corrie Ten Boom: “You will never learn that Christ is all you need, until He is all you have.”