When we are really honest with ourselves, when we realistically consider our heart's desire, how often are we truly satisfied with the number of intimate friendships we possess? Could we feel more known? Could we feel more cared for? We look around and assume that everyone else has close friendships, while we're stuck on the outside looking in.THE LONELY AND HIDING
The more that life has gone on the more I have realized that appearances are not as they seem. Often the very people we assume already have "enough" friends, are the people who feel lonely. Those who seem to have it all together are often the ones whom are attempting to hide (whether consciously or subconsciously) the fact that they desire deeper relationships that what they actually have.
"He (Jeremiah) needed friends. No one who is whole is self-sufficient. The whole life, the complete life, cannot be lived with haughty independence. Our goal cannot be to not need anyone. One of the evidences of Jeremiah's wholeness was his capacity to receive friendship, to let others help him, to be accessible to mercy. It is easier to extend friendship to others than to receive it ourselves. In giving friendship we share strength, but in receiving it we show weakness. But well-developed persons are never garrisoned behind dogmas or projects, but rather they are alive to a wide spectrum of relationships." - Eugene Peterson, Run with the HorsesTHE MYTH OF INDEPENDENCE
Individual independence does seem to be one of the myth's of American culture. Without a doubt this has crept into American Christian thought as well. It is easy to view our own personal relationship with God as solely an individual thing. "Jesus-and-me" Christians abound, neglecting or ignoring their real need for relationships with brothers and sisters in Christ.
Eugene is right. If I acknowledge that I need friends, I acknowledge that I am incomplete, that I have weakness. If I admit that a friend could come in really handy, I admit need. Admitting that I have need can be a terrifying experience. After all, we learn at a young age that we cannot control people to offer us what we think we need.
All of this begs the question: "What do we do then with friendship?" We cannot control people. We cannot make anyone like us or desire to be closer friends with us. The irony is that the more we try to get people to like us, the more we tend to put on a front and become the very type of person that people find unattractive.HOW JESUS LOVED
Jesus calls his followers to love one another as he has loved them (Jn. 13:34). How has Jesus loved his disciples? Jesus' secure relationship with the Father was confirmed at His baptism. Out of this secure identity (even if he felt weak in His humanity) Jesus pursued others, he served them. But he also opened up his own life, especially to the twelve. Jesus lived life with them, he ate meals, he wept, expressed his fears. In short, Jesus pursued relationships with others while opening up his own life, even when that meant ultimate rejection and betrayal. Even so, he forgave them.
Life is not what it was meant to be. We are designed to know others and to be known. When we feel dissonance with this reality, grief is an appropriate response. Yet, when we find ourselves experiencing sorrow about feeling alone, we have a choice. We can continue to turn in on ourselves and hold it against those around us for not loving us better. Alternatively, we can take steps towards selflessly pursuing others and honestly opening up our lives even when we are not guaranteed any return. I have found that there is no other way.
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