The Whys of Friendship

Monday, December 29, 2008

This afternoon, I had a moment to visit a new blog find of mine. Sonya's recent post about friendship left me thinking, "yes! yes! yes! This is me! This is what I've been thinking all my life, and I never put words to it like this!"
Don shared with me a conversation he and a friend had while driving back the other night from Dallas. Don asked him at one point, “What do you think the goal is of a friendship?”

His friend said, “To be there to help someone whenever they are in need.”

Don said, “No, it’s to be known.”

Read more from Sonya Dalyrymple...
A few of my friends know that I am just not shallow with people until I have been deep with them. This is backward from the way most of the world interacts with friendships. From what I can understand, a "normal" approach to relationship means that you begin at the beginning. You take turns sharing about yourself, and you watch and learn the reactions of the other person before you decide whether or not you can or will trust them. "Normal" friendships deepen gradually, built on common interests and experience.

I have only just begun to learn how these friendships work, and in my heart, I still wonder at the true depth of the relationship. Ever since I can remember, the question I have silently asked all of my friends is, "Do you really want to know me?"

Sometimes, my friendships have begun with an instant connection - usually on God. These friendships are amazing - and nearly all of them (my husband being the chief exception) are long-distance. They are easy and free, because we have nothing to hide from one another. Each conversation is a delight; we share from our lives, from our struggles, from our hearts. I couldn't tell you what color their eyes are or what their favorite color is or what their middle name is, but I know that I know them, and that I am known and unjudged.

A few of my friendships have not had this instant connection but have grown instead from shared experiences. The questions in my heart are the same as I interact - "Who are you? Why would you want to be my friend? Do you want to know me?" Trust is often hard to come by in these relationships, sometimes because I find myself asked or forced to withhold myself, sometimes because someone doesn't know how to be open with me.

I think I come across as demanding and intimidating. Some of my friends refer to me as a "catalyst," always stirring something up with what I say. There are a lot of things that are "duh" to me that simply scare others away because it is so foreign to their way of thinking.

I have been learning to listen. As I have found myself to be more fully known by God than the "He knows all the facts" idea that I have taken for granted, I have been learning that I can sit back and discover who people are without having to be fully known by them.

Finding a friend who thinks like I do is a rare and wonderful gift for my heart. Through these friendships, I enjoy the freedom of open vulnerability that comes from our sweet bond in who God is and how He knows us and how He is working in us. But it is the friendships that require effort and trust and hope to keep growing that change me and help me understand more of His work in others.

I can't ever know everyone in my life. I pray as I learn to know God more that He will direct my heart to those He wants me to know - even if I have no idea why He would want me to know them and offer to be known by them.

I think it is His image in me that longs to know and be known. When I ache over my own relationships, I learn of His ache over the chasm that is between Him and those who do not know Him through Jesus. And when I rejoice and live in the wonder of my close relationships, I get to taste the intimacy I will know with Him when I see Him face to face.

You know, I always want this. With everyone in my life.
"I do not pray for these [disciples] alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me. And the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one: I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me."

- John 17:20-23 (NKJV)
What glory we miss sometimes!


dancebythelight said...

It's kind of been a new thing for me to actually pray and ask God to direct my friendships. I've come to take stock of my friendship at this time of year. Sometimes I need God to open my eyes to who I need to be friends with. The truth is there are lots of people I could be close with, but that takes time. And there's only so much time one has to invest. And friendship is investing. So I've come to think carefully about it.

Sometimes I hang on to friendships because I hate to see them "go". I want things to be as they've been. But people change, I change, and sometimes you just can't be friends forever with some people. For whatever reason the friendship that was once close grows apart. Some friendships are for a season. Others, a lifetime. So I've been praying that the Lord would direct me in my friendships. To be friends with people I need to learn from, friends with people who need to learn from me. Friends with people my age, friends with people younger/older. It takes time and investment, just like marriage. Sometimes it "clicks", sometimes it doesn't, but I still need to pursue. Sometimes I need to let go. All that takes wisdom, which I can only gain through the illumination of the Holy Spirit.

That's what I'm learning about friendship.

Kelly Sauer said...

Thank you for sharing!

Esther said...

just wanted to say that i was skipping...

I really enjoyed your post about friendship. I'm horrible at the pleasantries. When I ask "how's it goin'", I seriously want to know. Perhaps question I really want to ask is.."Do you know Him?"...not as a qualifing question, but as a REAL starting point for any friendship.

Thanks for letting me stop by :)

Kelly Sauer said...

I so understand that, Esther! An acquaintance of mine shared his favorite way to start a conversation about God on a recent podcast: "So, how did you meet Him?"

I haven't used it yet - I don't have the guts yet, I think - but I love it!

Thanks for stopping in and leaving a comment! It's lovely to know I'm being read!

Zoanna said...

Kelly, I found my way here thru your comment on Danielle's recent post (the lovely sunsets; oxymoronically, all sunsets are lovely, eh?)

I so appreciate this post. I, too, get to the meaty questions with someone pretty quickly after a wee bit of introductory talk. I like a person who is not afraid to be honest-to-God and people about their flaws, yet finds the good in everyone else (particularly in me, to be quite selfish about it!). But also someone who isn't afraid to tell me I'm off-course (in no uncertain terms) when I'm being a real pain. (And I can be, for sure.) I also love when people can find humor in tense situations (w/o always hiding behind it). What I love so much about God is that He knows me inside, out, and backwards AND still loves me. A good marriage gets cloze to that and is probably what scripture means by 'the two shall become one." ???

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