I’ve never been one to have a lot of friends. The ones I do have, I am very close to. Something happened in college where I lost both of my childhood friends at once. It was a deep and lasting blow to my heart. It happened right before one of them was married. I had a bridesmaid dress. It sat in my closet as the wedding day came and went. I attended the other friend’s wedding a few months later, not as bridesmaid (as I thought I would). Just as a guest. It hurt. A lot. I went home and cried. A lot.
Looking back, I realize a lot of it was immaturity. Some of it was sin. Another part was just life. Life happens. Friends drift apart. Mine were torn apart, but I know we would have drifted eventually. We were on different paths. Today, one of those friendships has not been mended. Another one has been able to be reconciled. The power of forgiveness is amazing. But that’s a whole different topic.
At first this experience caused me to draw into myself. I closed my heart. I held everyone to an arm’s length. When a certain acquaintance wanted to be closer friends, I hesitated. My heart just couldn’t shake the feelings of hurt. The feelings lingered from the broken friendships. As time passed, I realized it is a lonely tower to have no one close to you. You may be cut off from hurt, but you are also cut off from love.
Because friendship is tough for me, I have to be intentional. I’ve never been good at sharing my heart. But I’m getting better. It has come slowly, and I’m not always perfect. It takes practice. I’ve gotten hurt. Rejected. But I’ve learned that friendship is about giving, not getting. It is my desire to share my heart with others. To share my struggles. To ask for prayer. Share things that might make me tear up. The hard. And the good. Sharing the victories as well is so refreshing. I love to rejoice with my friends! I can give my time, energy, and acceptance because God is my source of joy and love. Looking for friendships to fill that void has only left me frustrated. And my friends probably feel the same.
Do I still get hurt? Yes. I started cultivating a certain friendship this time last year. I shared a lot of my adoption journey with her. I told her my feelings – the ones I didn’t post online. I felt myself opening up to her. I asked her to pray. She did. She encouraged me. A lot. I expected in time for her to do the same. I thought she might start sharing her own struggles. Or blessings. She didn’t. She hasn’t. Everything she shares is on the surface level. But that’s ok. My friendship with her is not based on a mutual sharing. I don’t need her to share her heart with me.
My broken friendships from college taught me that. Friendships are not always two-way streets. In fact, rarely have I found a friendship to always be mutual in giving. Most of the time friends do not give equally. But that’s the beauty of community. That’s what makes friendships a treasure. I can only keep offering my own heart. I cannot force them to share theirs. And that’s ok.
I can keep sharing, because my God is my refuge. I no longer live in a tower, shut off from others. I live in a garden. With an open door. Recently, I began to share my heart with a few people. I’ve opened up. Shared private and protected things. You may ask: “Why do you trust them?” Its not that I trust them, I trust my God. I trust my heart and its protection to God.
Friendships that run deep and last through the years share these qualities:
- Acceptance. We all want to be accepted. When we make mistakes or look our worst, we want acceptance. When we can’t offer anything in return, and those friends who keep accepting us are so valuable. Friendships who endure are the ones who accept each other.
- Better Us. We all have those sweet friendships where we always come away from a conversation a better person. We are motivated to keep on fighting the good fight. They inspire us to do better. Be better.
- Point to Christ. A true friend will keep us connected to Christ. She will help us realize friendship should always come after our relationship with God. They encourage Bible reading. Prayer. They are a reflection of Christ.
I want to encourage you this Valentine’s season, don’t forget your friends! True friendship are hard to find, but oh so worth it. Keep sharing your heart. Don’t expect the same. Its ok if she never does. Its ok to be used. Actaully, that’s what friendships are for. You will not always be in a season of giving, but when you are able: GIVE. The best thing you can do for your friends is to: GIVE. Give your time. Give your resources. Give your thoughts. Prayers. Most importantly, give them your heart. Show them you care. Leave the hurt up to God. He will watch over you. He will hold you.
The most important thing you can give your friends is your heart.
To all of my friends, during this month of “love,” I wanted to let you know how much I love you. February isn’t all about Valentine’s Day. We need to remember “Galetine’s Day” as well! To celebrate, I’ll be featuring some friendship posts every Monday in February.
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