With "friendship" on the brain, I thought about facebook, where friendship is mutual. You have to be invited to be a "friend" or you go find some folks and invite them to be your friend. All invitations must be confirmed in order for relational information to be shared. The alternative to confirmation is ignorance...literally: "IGNORE".
Thanks to the electronic book of faces, I've regained contact this week with several friends from the past: roommates, choir comrades, travelin' buddies, senior classmates. By way of confirmation (either theirs or mine) we are now friends again. Haven't spoken in ten or twenty years, but with two sentences, we're rock solid friends. I can't get my brain around it.
My emotions are a mess of nostalgic bliss and foggy regret. Isn't it wonderful to virtually reunite with my closest confidant from college? Isn't it awful to know that after a two year blitz of sharing our deepest thoughts, we just went off the radar for a decade or more?
In 1991, When I moved back to Texas, I was dating a guy who still lived in Washington. He assured me our relationship would be able to withstand the distance. Two months later, he flew down for a friend's wedding and invited me to attend with him. We spent the whole weekend together. Then, as he waited for his flight home, he called me and said these words, "I guess I'm just a 'here and now' kind of guy, and you're not 'here now'." That sentence has haunted me...obviously since I'm blogging about it 18 years later. His words brought along a surge of insecurities.
I thought to myself, "We just spent an entire weekend together AT A WEDDING that he did NOT have to take me to. We had a GREAT time. He was humorous and affectionate. But if he has to be apart from me, he has no need of me?" Since my senior year, I had been a bit of a "player" on the dating scene, but that verdict-bearing phone call from someone my whole family assumed I would one day marry, broke my heart. As my emotions tried to heal, callouses formed. Huge patches of hard snobbishness concealed my aching insecurities while vindictive, control-freak tendencies crusted over most of my vulnerable sensitivities.
Thankfully, the Healing continued. That first semester of ETBU was complicated because I transferred in as the new VP's daughter. I couldn't tell if people were interested in me or obligated to befriend my dad's daughter. I missed my OBU friends. I missed that 'there & then' jerk. I was lonely. It was so simple to be the out-of-touch, can't-get-hurt, don't-care-if-you-miss-me-when-I'm-gone girl. So simple to preserve myself by hiding in a cocoon spun of self-reliance. Eventually, I was forced to open up and let folks in. INNERVIEW changed everything. 60 consecutive hours spent in & out of a 15-passenger van...sing it with me: "Nowhere to run to, baby. Nowhere to hide...". Those folks were exposed to glimpses of the real me. I loved those trips. I loved those friends.
Over time, God sent many friends who shared His desire for my good, and were faithful stewards of the emotional reserves I offered. Most importantly, He sent Philip, who could see with Spirit eyes, the beauty hidden deep within my heart. God gave Philip the patience and compassion to help me dig out of my dysfunctional pit. I love them both for that.
Throughout those years of having very few friends, I know Jesus loved me. He was my friend, though I had done nothing to deserve it. His message to me was (in stark contrast to others) "I am a 'here and now' kind of guy...and I'll always be able to say to you, 'I'm here now." Thank You, Jesus!
Back to that advice I mentioned earlier. I think no matter what kind of people we relate with - and there are sure to be many various types who come into our contact for many different reasons. If we are friends of God, then we will model His friendship. I realize I'll have friends who know me better and friends who spend more time with me than others, but I don't want to use people for my gain. I don't want to shun people just to avoid being inconvenienced or annoyed.
There must surely be a Godly way to befriend people. To speak the truth in love. To joyfully give and receive tender care. To offer our time and talents to God so He can work all things together to heal those who need healing....'cause there's really no way to tell what's going on beneath the skin. Couldn't we live our life as one great big, friendly "invitation"?
Even before opening Pandora's facebook, I had entered a new season of bountiful friendship. I thank the Lord. I want to be a good friend. I want to put others' needs before my own, and simply trust the Father to meet my needs. If I know Him, He'll probably use some of those very fun girls who I call "friend" to bless my healthy heart.
[Jesus said] "My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.
Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.
You are my friends if you do what I command.
I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master's business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.
You did not choose me, but I chose you ...
This is my command: Love each other."