Tag Archives: Friendship

From belief to doubt to love part 1

From belief, to doubt to love part 2

I care deeply about people and want them to feel loved. One of my principle ways of doing this is thoughtful intentional listening and probing questions to help them open up. My goal was always to console past hurts and pains.

I had many experiences pouring time and energy into others in this way. I was always happy and joyous about the opportunity and saw the blessings and the fruit. It was a signature part of who I was and how I loved people. Then I met Eric.

Eric had previously been known to be a very happy go lucky energetic individual. Everyone on campus knew who he was. We had very opposite upbringings. He was raised mostly by a single mother from divorced parents just above poverty. I was raised by two married parents in a middle class home. However, we always respected each others point of view and enjoyed our conversations that stretched our previous beliefs. I was looking forward to my year with him as a roommate.

Unfortunately, the happy bubbly individual I had known went through an identity crisis and began wallowing in all of his childhood daddy and family issues. I was happy to help despite my own identity crisis where I was terrified of who I would become and that our conversations were rarely conducive to my sleep cycle.

He believed that he was a sham on the outside pretending to always happy. Now he was going to live in each moment honestly. He wanted so bad to have some sort of female affection. And many things like that. On several occasions I gave up what turned out to be a whole letter grade in order to spend time listening and sympathizing with him. Worth it.

I was falling into my own pit of depression, but still I made it a point to share in his life. A girl he had been good friends with had written him a letter saying he was sexy. Most of the conversation I do not remember, but this, “You know what she said, she thought I was sexy. Sexy? Me?” He was rather overweight. “She has a boyfriend and yet she has been my friend and encouraged me. She wrote me a note. The only bit of encouragement I have had all semester. No one else has tried to be a part of my life or encourage me or understands what I am going through.”

Of course not. Especially not the guy sitting across from you two hours past his bedtime who was in the middle of spiraling towards thoughts of suicide. Nope no one.

It was at that moment that I realized… People suck. People will suck you dry of all of your energy. Then, in return. They just sit there and do nothing. No growth. No life change. No progress. Just a black hole sucking up all of the attention.

My identity was wrapped up in my ability to help effect a positive change in others. I had always been able to be some sort of a blessings in others lives, regardless of how small. And now someone who I thought was going to be a close friend threw out all of my loving efforts. My care was rejected and the seed of doubt was planted. If they can just throw away all of the care and attention, why bother?

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When Friendships in Christ Fail

I have this almost constant battle in my mind of what should happen, and what actually does. One of the most difficult for me is relationships with Christians that fall apart. Everything in me screams that we are supposed to love each other and that Christ at the center can fix it. I hate saying goodbye to anyone. And even years after I lose contact with a friend, I still think of them fondly, regardless of what brought about that change.

He came to set us free from our sins, and really it is our sins that break relationships because if we were all perfect, we would all get along. Even within the broken world I so desperately want my relationships with my fellow followers of Christ to be different. So at the recent loss of yet another close friend (I remember each and every close friend I have ‘lost’ to a relationship breakdown, and I think of them throughout the year) I must ask myself, what am I to do? I cannot make others happy. I cannot control their actions, so when they wish to leave, I must let them leave and live in peace. But how shall I respond.

At this moment, I cry. I cry because I see that is what Christ did. When I read the story of Christ raising Lazarus from the dead, I don’t believe that he was crying because his friend died. Christ new that he would raise Lazarus. Crying over his death doesn’t make sense.

Christ tells them that he is glad that he was not there in order that they may believe, and that his sickness would not end in death, but was for God’s Son to be glorified through it. Christ tells them that he is the resurrection and the life, and not that he is the life that will bring Lazarus back from the grave then, but eternal life for, “they will live even though they die.”

When he saw them weeping, even after he explained this, he began to weep. Not because he was sad for his friend, but because his dear children did not believe. They did not see the truth of life that he had brought. In a sense he is crying because his relationship with them was broken, or at least very childish. Rather than having belief in who he is, which is required of eternal life. So he weeps.

I may be stretching this exact passage a bit, but if we look at a lack of faith as being a broken, or at least immature relationship with Christ, and that is what Christ weeps over, then we to in being like God are to cry over broken relationships.

So, as I continue to wish that Christ would return and make all things right so that I can have wonderful perfect relationships with my friends, I do what I must now, which is cry my temporary loss of relationship with them.


Dating, worth it?

One of my friends and I were having a conversation about relationships recently.
“You know what will be great about heaven?” I said as I pointed out the hope, “when we get to heaven we will get to be friends with all of the ones we have lost or never had a chance to have along the way. And we will be perfect so no drama!”
“Yeah. And you know what else will be great about heaven? There won’t be any dating. Want to know how I know there won’t be dating? Because the Bible says there won’t be any weeping or gnashing of teeth.”
A while ago I talked about the question of, “Are people worth it?” which now I usually have decided that they are. However, now I often find myself asking, is dating worth it? I have seen few friends attempt the cultural oddity and come out unscathed. Most have had enough bad experiences that I do not need to focus on all the hurt pain and ‘darkness’ that can come with the territory.
Instead, in light of my last few posts on light and darkness, I want to share just a little hope. Hope that is there even with all the negative issues that may arise, and hope that can be applied to all relationships in which there is a loss—either from a broken relationships, friendship or other, or just after saying goodbye.
Idina Menzel is the wonderful singer that sings the hit song “Let it Go” from Disney’s Frozen. (The irony of that song alongside dating is intended) As the first Disney princess I ever wanted to marry, when I found out she sung a lot of other songs I immediately looked them up. I found one song, “Better to Have Loved.” The song is marginal, but the lyrics are poignant. Better to, “fall into the earth for a trip into the sky.”
This song, though intended romantically, pushes forward the idea that the light is worth the darkness. That good in the world is always worth fighting through everything that is bad, and that we should do that good whenever possible. The good in the song being love, the bad being the loss of the object of affections.
I had a good conversation with another friend recently where he told me a story about the Christian musician, Keith Green. Keith Green, in reference to his wife, (paraphrase) “Even if I had never had the chance to marry her, I would have been thankful just for the opportunity I had to know her.”
The only change I would make (If the paraphrase is in fact correct) is that it is worth it to have the chance to love whomever it may be that we lose. It is not dependent upon who the other person is, but a thankfulness that we have the opportunity to love another. I am thankful for every instance I have had in which I am able to love any and all of my friends, past or present, here or there, whole or broken. Loving them is the good I love in and of itself.


Life Worth Living: Purple vs. Green

Life Worth Living: Purple vs Green part iii
In my last post I shared that it is only in God redeeming the world by loving us while we were still sinners that I may enjoy creation. However, this understanding is part of a struggle I deal with daily. I waft to and fro between believing it and acting on it with joy and peace, and despairing at the monotony of life. It God’s use of other people in the body of Christ that I have had the biggest move towards understanding his love and redemption.
I have a problem. I have a personal fear that all of my wrongs and mistakes will be held and accounted against me. It is not just wrongs within a certain incident and the time frame it takes to resolve it. I remember mistakes I made when I was five.
I went shopping with my mom one day, and as we were checking out I wanted to be helpful so I turned around to the people behind us and without asking began to try and move their groceries onto the conveyer belt. As I grabbed a loaf of bread and felt its softness squish just a little, I also felt a firm uncomfortable grasp around my arm as he stopped me from helping. He was angry. I felt awful for not asking. This memory will periodically pop into my head. Even now as I write this I feel some sense of regret over the incident.
I have one very close friend that I have had for many years. With this friend I share my heart. My hopes, fears and dreams. My friend both celebrates with my success, and mourns with me in my sorrow. Unfortunately I made a long series of sinful choices that hurt him/her deeply. My friend had every right to be angry, and cut off the relationship. However, I vividly remember, one late Saturday afternoon, as we both stood leaning up against my car, we talked. I was asked how I was doing, “Fine” I replied, then, “How are you really doing” I fought back tears as I confessed I was doing terribly. Throughout the conversation it became obvious I regretted and felt anguish over my decisions.
“You know I forgive you right? I was angry, and pissed, and I cried. But I forgive you. I don’t regret any of the decision I made, and I do not regret being friends with you. I still love you and forgive you.” At this point I began crying. It didn’t occur to me then, but this conversation changed my whole outlook. I have been forgiven by others. Yes. But not for as bad of choices and not one so well communicated and acted out. That friend stood in the face of my broken decision, accepted the pain, and then choose to act lovingly and keep no record of the wrong so as to be willing to still assume the best and continue in a friendship even though it means they will be hurt again.
In that moment I found freedom. Christ revealed himself through the body of Christ. My friend acted out the forgiveness of Christ for me. Now whenever regret overwhelms me, I remember God’s redemption through forgiveness, not just between God and man, but between men through Christ. This redemption and forgiveness of brokenness makes brokenness worth loving.
I can love life because love is perfect in brokenness.
With this story in mind, I think of one of my family friends, who loves the color purple. She is the one who loved mischievously in one of my previous posts. She is one of my good friends, and her whole family at that, I trust to stick by me no matter how weird I get. She isn’t perfect. She can be stubborn and a bit irritable at times, but I enjoy hanging out with her even when she isn’t acting perfectly. So as I ponder on Christ, and the family of Christ that teaches us and acts as Christ to us, I know exactly what color I would choose. Purple. Why? Because Ashley loves purple.


The Facebook Connection

                The Facebook Connection

                At one point, when I used Facebook I sent several dozen messages to friends at the end of a college semester encouraging them to stay strong. I also used it to keep in contact with friends that were far away. It worked like an email and I was able to encourage others while keeping up with them. However it has taken a turn. I find that most of the time when I send messages, there is either no response or a delayed one.

I don’t believe it is because anyone is ignoring me, or that they don’t like me. I find it to be because of the distraction of our current generation and the ADD. If the message is too long, or the response requires too much thought and time it takes second place to whatever else is going on. Then the business of life and the internet take over, and the relationships that are seeking real life interaction take second place to the thrill of online connection.

The thing about online conversations and connections is that the inhibitions of the brain do not kick in. People in general will release more information because  when you don’t see another person, you are not as worried about someone else thinking poorly of you etc. This is more prominent in chat conversations where it is quick and less thinking is involved. Even reading wall posts help people feel more connected with others when we read information. Furthermore the culture of the new and instant takes over, long messages are not nearly as important as the quick new details of other people.

                Also, people develop a habit of going to Facebook when they want to connect or fill a gap of loneliness. I was going into that habit to. So I got rid of mine. I have only had it active for about three days in the past two to three weeks, and I am thrilled. Whenever I want to connect with someone, or feel lonely, I call a friend. I arrange a real in person hang out and go do something. I am less distracted about wondering what is going on in people’s lives who I don’t see often and focus on the people I have a direct influence on.

                I am not saying Facebook is bad. I know many people who redeem it with encouragement and joy. However, I find that most people would be greatly benefited from having a Facebook fast. Don’t waste time on the internet, and invest it on others.

                This also means that I am trying to build this blog without Facebook, so please, tell your friends. Also, if you are redeeming Facebook, and you like anything that I have to say, recommend me. It helps.


Are People Worth It? Part iii “Image of God”

Are they worth it part iii

As promised this was a three part piece. In the last two sections I asked the question of whether or not people are worth our time when we see no fruit. To which I answered that for one we can never know if we really have helped them, and that we need to pray that we may see others clearly and to love them on both our and their terms. I mentioned in the second one that I would be discussing here, the image of God.

                Everyone is made in the image of God. So when we ask if someone is worth it, our resounding answer should be yes. They carry in themselves, whether they know Christ or not, the image of the creator. We as people are God’s special creation set aside for his good pleasure, grace, mercy and love. The mere fact that others in this world manage to laugh, love, cry, and have relationships with others is a testimony to their being made in the image of God.

                We are in fact most like God when we are in relationships with others. God as Trinity made us men and women in relationship. Adam, even when he was still living perfectly and in proper relationship with God, was not supposed to be alone but be in relationship with other humans. The way the creation narrative was written, the trait of relationality was at least part of our being in the image of God.

                Part of what we must remember and call to mind when we are beginning to be burdened by what we perceive as someone not growing and not responding to our “help” (careful not to treat them as a project) is that no matter how much time and energy we have spent on them that they do carry the image of the Holy One in relationality.

                This image is broken and marred by sin but it is still in God’s image. So I leave this recommendation, don’t forget that when people do not seem worth it, whether because we think they have problems that can’t be fixed, or the relationship has so many disagreements and issues that you want to just cut and run, pray for them. Pray for the relationship and then just hang out. If we are in God’s image when we relate with others, then we may be best off letting the Holy Spirit work in us and the other person, and just being a good friend.