10 February 2010

Friendships are Important

Friendships are important.

That is a broad blanket statement, but it is a paramount foundation of my life. My friends are important to me. I applaud their accomplishments, I support their dreams, I hurt when they hurt, and I spend hours on my knees and in my head talking to God about them. In an age of fast-paced technology and the instant gratification found in emails, text messages and Facebook posts, I still strive to take time and write notes, send cards and care packages, pick up the phone and call – because my friendships are important to me. In a world of busy schedules and upside down work schedules, I still try to reach out and make lunch appointments and weekend brunch dates and to invite people over for Sabbath dinners, because friendships are important to me. Granted, I don’t all of these things all the time – and I have a LOOOONG list of people who I need to make those kinds of dates with, but I am slowly working through the address book and putting dates on the calendar, so be patient with me.

I have learned over the years the value of TRUE friendships and unfortunately, more recently, the hurt of “less than truthful” friendships. Let me stop and say, I have been blessed with some amazing friends in my life: past and current. I have a friend who literally calls me EVERY weekday just to say Hello and encourage me to “make something positive happen today.” He does this every day without fail. I have an insomniac friend who, any morning that I need it, will sit up with me on my early morning drive home and talk me home just to make sure my sleepiness doesn’t result in accident or injury. I have a friend who proclaims that she has “the best girlfriends in the world” and am blessed that she counts me in the number. I have more than one friend that, because of shared experiences together, we can talk on the phone, say one word or key phrase, and INSTANTLY know what the other is thinking and feeling – there is no need for expansion or explanation – we just KNOW each other. And I am blessed with friendships that call me on my foolishness – and how many of us will admit that we need friends like that as well. Yes, I am blessed with great friendships. And I strive to be a good friend in return.

But recently, I have also been deeply wounded and hurt by people that I consider my “close circle” of friends. People that I feel should KNOW me - my heart, my motives, my intentions – despite any evidence to the contrary. People who, when told a story about me that does not sound like something I would think, say or do, should immediately stand up for me and defend my name and character. “No, I know her and I know that is not something she would think, say or do.” People who should know my heart, even if they cannot see my hand. People who I have been there for in the past, over and over again – even when the relationship has not been 100% reciprocal. People who do not seem to value my friendship to them in the same way that I value their friendship to me. It is painful because friendships are important to me.

Last year, I lost a lot of people to death. It seemed like every time I turned around, I was receiving word of yet another person, important in my life, that was gone. I cannot tell you how many funerals and memorial services I attended last year – I stopped counting when it got past 20. But the constant losses opened up my eyes to the value of the relationships I have now, and midway through last year, I made up in my mind that while there are some relationships I am “stuck” with – there were a lot of “dead weight” relationships in my life as well. Friendships that were not as supportive or nurturing as I needed or expected them to be, and I proclaimed loudly and pubicly that I was going to “purge” all such relationships from my life. I even wrote a blog about it. (THE VALUE OF MY FRIENDSHIP)

Around the time I was coming to this conclusion, God opened a door to a job opportunity at work. After much prayer and consideration, I decided to take this job – even though it would mean working an alternative work schedule that would turn my life upside down. I recently looked at the “pros and cons” sheet I produced while making this decision and one of the top items on my “cons” side was “changes to many friendships because of my new schedule.” I knew, even then, that some of my friendships would dissolve and fade away because they were superficial or based on convenience. What I didn’t realize was how quickly some of those friendships would dissolve. Friendship is a two-way street and I QUICKLY discovered that, in some relationships, I was the only one doing the work to maintain the friendship. As a result, some of those “friendships” were the first to be purged. The last six months have been a painful process and admittedly, I didn’t purge as deeply as I could have because, as stated above, friendships are important.

We have all heard the adage that people come into your life for a reason, a season or a lifetime. I have all of those types of relationships going on simultaneously in my life – and am sure that I am a “reason, season or lifetime” in a bunch of peoples’ lives as well. The thing I have had to learn (cause I can only speak for myself) is that I need to be honest enough to know where each relationship is and then figure out when/if it is time to let go of the relationship. To use a popular theatre metaphor: Everyone doesn’t deserve to be in the front row of my life – some people don’t even deserve a ticket to the show. And just because at one point, you had an “all access” pass – even those can be revoked.

People have heard me make the following statement before “just because we have been friends for forever doesn’t mean we have to be friends forever.” For my own piece of mind, there are some relationships/friendships that I need to step back from, set up new boundaries and new expectations. It sounds harsh to me, cause I don’t take my friendships lightly. But this is necessary - and it is Biblical … remember when Jesus told His disciples to “brush the dust off [their] feet” – sometimes, you just gotta keep it moving – move on from a relationship that no longer fulfills and nourishes and find a new path in your life without that person. For me, it won’t be easy because (say it with me) friendships are important. But then again, so am I.

Be blessed.

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