“At this age I’m only interested in Consistency, Stability, Respect and Loyalty,” read someone’s shared meme on my Facebook wall the other day. Thanks to Tumblr, Pinterest and Drake we have thousands of memes like this floating around, perfectly articulating how we feel about relationships with people i.e. friendships now that we’ve entered into adulthood. Because, let’s be honest, there comes a time when all a person wants to do is make the circle smaller; holding close only those who are genuine, likeminded and have vision.
I fear that this is harder than it seems though. Adulthood is actually a graduation.
I’m the last person who wants to hear this. Primary school was painful, and I left there feeling like the world owes me some kind of respite; a break from gang-ups and kicks in the face (literally, I saw it happen…) from the people who you thought were your friends. But no, these ‘friendship-break-ups’ happen and have the capacity to immobilise you if you don’t work on a few things in your own life.
Here are two things that are worth working on in yourself with regards to any friendship or relationship:
- Our Expectations: “Love means to commit oneself without guarantee, to give oneself completely in the hope that love will produce love in the loved person. Love is an act of faith, and whoever is of little faith is of little love.” – Erich Fromm. After you’ve lived life for a while, it’s hard not to get hardhearted and cynical about people, especially if you’ve been hurt before. But, you can’t go through life without trusting and loving. Love is an act of the will and there is no guarantee that you’ll get it back. If you want to cultivate trust and openness with someone, don’t expect them to make the first move – YOU DO IT. If you’re vulnerable with someone, they will know that they can be vulnerable with you too, and even though it doesn’t always happen immediately. One also learns to expect less from people (understanding their weaknesses) without being cynical about them, I feel strongly that this comes from a secure identity – I am happy to find mine in Jesus. He has taught me to look beyond myself, and outside of myself. What he says about me far supersedes my abilities and gifting; knowing that I can only love because he gives me love is also quite freeing .
- Our Reactions: It is so important that we react to people from a place of peace, and, let’s be honest, that is hard to get right every time, but if we allow ourselves to develop a good character (which, I feel can be learned if we apply ourselves in our families and daily endeavours), it is much easier to love people. A good temperament is an imperative development in oneself.
There is a lot of theory floating around today saying that we are able to find peace, joy, hope, love and all those good things if we would only look within ourselves. Honestly, when I look inside myself, I see emptiness, and I have the tendency to get really depressed when I sit looking at my belly button all day. The fact that I can take a little bit of time out every day for some peace and quiet and look out to/depend on Jesus makes things so much easier for me. Especially when I know that I am depending on someone else, and I need that if I’m going to trust anyone, because life can be painful.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying be naïve about your relationships with people, just don’t carry around a lack of trust because that is a burden that no one wants to carry on a day-to-day basis.