This morning, I stumbled upon this particular article about social networking. It basically says that most of our friends on Facebook don’t care about us, or aren’t true friends. My belief is that there’s a lot or some truth in that statement (prove me wrong FB friends by commenting!), but I think most people would be surprised by who on their friend list would actually help them in a crisis and who in their lives really cares about them.
Friendships are like ocean tides. They come in and they go out. Sometimes they bring warmth. Sometimes they’re icy cold. The tide isn’t the same every time. Some of the tide may remain in a pool and for a while it brings with it a fascination, joy, or a painful experience. But inevitably the tide will shift and the friendship will go the way of the ocean, back out to sea and on to another beach.
How we interact with other people and where we are in our own journey demonstrate the path that we’ve chosen and the way we have chosen to get there. To be perfectly honest, I find that as I look back on my life, I’ve been a terrible friend to a lot of people. There have been times when I’ve made a genuine effort to be friends and the friendship never advanced beyond that superficial state.
Who doesn’t have a superficial person in their circle? If I were to ask you what that person brings to the relationship, you might say “nothing”, or maybe you’d say, “they bring a lot of challenges”, or “problems”. Some might then ask, “Why do you stay friends with them?”
Some of these people will tell you that you should distance yourself from anyone and everyone that’s not adding value to your life. If you believe this, then you are probably one of these “superficial” friends that your thinking of now. If the friendship is based on getting something from someone else, then it’s not really a friendship. It’s a business relationship. This can be true of “selfless, giving” people as well. If they selflessly give to receive something back then the same applies to them.
Let’s turn this inward for a moment and look into ourselves. It goes back to the motive I mentioned in my earlier blog: the motive, that drive inside, the engine that wants to but sometimes can’t. The question is: In what direction are you pointing that motive and what’s driving it? If there is something directing the motive what is it? At each of our cores, we have a sense of what’s important to us and it drives us to behave and act the way that we do. It controls everything about our interactions and the way we live life. What we value does matter because values determine the direction our lives will take. If anything values dictate, not the path, but the decision outcomes along that path that take us where we are going.
As I said earlier, a lot of people get hung up on the expectations in a friendship. There’s a lot of “if I do this for you, then you do this for me.” I see this bargaining going on all the time, but that’s a business relationship where there is an expectation of someone gaining something from the relationship and if you’re with a person who has a win-lose mentality, then the outcome of the friendship will eventually lead to some heartache.
To me a true friendship is something that expects nothing in return. However, that doesn’t rule out expectations entirely. We can expect things in others without expecting things for ourselves. In a way, this is one example of love. We want what’s best for the other individual and we expect that they want that for themselves and live that way too, but that doesn’t mean we expect something back from the relationship.
So, while we can get hung up on if our friends really love us or not, there will always be two sides to that relationship and we can only control one side of it. In friendship we experience bliss and pain, joy and sadness, and sharing those experiences with someone else. It’s unfair to expect something out of it, but it is fair to expect to give or put something into it. What we put into it is totally up to us.
Our relationship with God is like this. God expects us to do what’s right, but doesn’t need anything from us, but you do have to choose to be in a friendship with him. He accepts us fully for who we are and loves us anyway. On top of that, he’s always giving to the relationship. Simply put, God loves us. He gave with his life and he continues to give by living for us. So, in my book, that makes him the ultimate friend. What’s more, we don’t need Facebook or social media to have a relationship with him.