What I’m realizing about friendship

1049182_10151485499157467_1556532080_oYesterday, author Donald Miller posted the author’s note to his upcoming book. I get excited when I hear of a new book from him. Since I first read “Blue Like Jazz” some eight years ago or so I’ve come to see him as someone who puts into words so many of the things I think about faith, relationships and life in general. In the author’s note he writes, “If you want to be loved, be yourself with people who are kind and trustworthy.” I’ve been endlessly turning that phrase over in my head since I read it.

As I have journeyed to work through the struggles of my past – both internally and externally inflicted – I realize I have been indiscriminate with whom I have attempted to be in relationship. My personality drives me to unintentionally expect that others will approach the relational dynamic as I do. This has led to any number of disappointing and hurtful events. The reality is not everyone is kind and trustworthy. There are any number of reasons for this. Abusive relationships, traumatic events, deceitful motives…these are just a few of the reasons people can find it difficult to extend authentic love to others. Those issues are for each person to work through as they are ready. For my part, I need to cast the relational net not nearly as wide as I have in the past. But how do I determine who is “trustworthy and kind”? That’s not easy to assess in others, but I can assess myself by those measures. The unflattering conclusion is that I’ve not always been someone that others might call trustworthy and kind. I know I haven’t been that for my family as I should have been.

Last week my son, Ruben, moved onto the campus of Trinity University as he begins his college career. My daughter, Elena, has started her junior year of high school. As the prospect of the empty nest draws closer I find that I’m decreasingly concerned with the breadth of my relationships and much more concerned with their depth. Like offloading people I follow on Twitter but who don’t follow me back, I’m doing a real life deck clearing. The path before me is to deepen the relationships before me, the ones I know I need to have. It’s time for me to shake the dust from my feet and stop trying to forge relationships with those who, for whatever reason, are not interested in investing relational equity.

John, one of the pastors at my church, will be laying out a framework for people to pursue what he is calling a “fully-orbed relationship”. The premise is that people must eat, play, talk and work together. He’ll flesh out why this important, but these are the legs on which every relationship has to stand if it can be called healthy. We’ve done okay in a couple of those areas in our home but we really need to get at all of those in a more deliberate way. I’m not sure where this will go, but I suspect that it will be more satisfying than anything I’ve experienced.

6 thoughts on “What I’m realizing about friendship

  1. Rey, I feel like this is a season where I want to be intentional about developing a deeper friendship with you. That is just a feeling I have in my guts, so I thought I’d stop being a wimp and share that with you. Great article!

  2. Great post Rey! This is truly something I can relate with. I always try to fall on the end of effortless relationships. Not sure if its because I’m lazy or I am afraid to not get a return on my relational investment. Or it could be I’m just safeguarding what’s already there. If it were to go deeper there is a chance for it go wrong… But all this guarding comes at a cost. What “fully-orbed relationships” am I missing out on.

    1. I understand where you’re coming from. For a good part of the last few years there have been relationships that I have attempted to pursue that, if I were honest, were not giving a good ROI. Then there have been other opportunities that I likely failed to pursue that would have been very satisfying and deep friendships.

  3. Thanks for following “Tails from Paris”. We’re now following your blog too.

    If you want to sharpen your international sense of humor, we do also have a French version called “Sous nos Couettes” : http://sousnoscouettes.com/.

    Thanks for sharing if you enjoy it too …

    Best from Paris, France 😉

    Alix, Roxane & their bald, bold & funny (at least he pretends to …) Dad

  4. I strive for depth in relationships. I’m basically an introvert, so having surface friendships is a struggle for me. I prefer a few, very close personal friendships. HOWEVER, over the course of the past year, the breadth of our “Body of Christ” type friendships has me in awe. I walk through the lobby of C4 on a Sunday, and people I just know a little bit – from a Bible Study, or parents of students, or someone who I haven’t really been connected with in awhile – will stop me and tell me that they have been praying for us ( I assume because someone they know is someone who knows our story – and they’ve heard of our situation in small group or just via general discussion.) And they mean it. It’s not just a casual comment. Love and concern shine in the eyes. The same thing happens at Emmaus gatherings – people I was on a team with years ago, or pilgrims from tables past. I too am striving for more depth; however, this season has has shown me that there are times when that breadth of friendship is precious. Just wanted to voice that view of friendships. Thank you for your words!

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