Monday, October 27, 2008

Disposable People

I think this probably happens to everyone. You're friends with someone for a time then suddenly you don't stay in touch as often. You get busy with life, they get busy with their lives, and you begin to drift apart. Before you know it, it's been months or even years since you've heard from them. When you do get in touch again, so much has changed and you realize with a hint of sadness that you have become strangers.

In one of the courses that I'm doing with the girls in school, Beautiful Girlhood, a recent lesson was called Keeping Up Aquaintances. The lesson goal was to teach younger girls that making real friends (friends that will encourage you in the things of God, rather than influence you in the things of the world) is very important. Equally important is maintaining those friendships and nurturing them so that you have that network of good and godly support around you, and that likewise they have that support in you.

I have to confess that this is a difficult chapter for me. I'm not the kind of person that has a lot of close friends all at the same time, but the kind of person that generally has one or two close friends at a time. I suppose a lot of people are like this, so I'm okay with that part. I've never been a particularly "social" butterfly, but have always had a very strong opinion about friendships and what constitutes real friends. Essentially it boils down to this: they're the ones who are there when life falls apart and everyone else is nowhere to be found.

I recently read that to have those kinds of friends, that you need to be that kind of friend. I'm learning (once again) that this isn't always the case, and it's not a very pleasant lesson. You can be that kind of friend and still have folks that you thought were your friends, dispose of you like yesterday's coffee grounds. Yep, it hurts. Nope, there's not much you can do about it but carry on. Sometimes, you just have to learn the hard way lessons you thought you'd already learned.

FOR FURTHER CLARIFICATION:

I received an email this morning about this post, from a friend who was concerned the tone may come across as bitter or angry. I wanted to clarify in case anyone else had that same impression.

There are all kinds of friends. Good friends, childhood friends, lifelong friends, long distance friends, complicated friends and even fair weather friends. Most people have experience in nearly all of those kinds of relationships. For me, it is simply frustrating (frustrated with myself) that even though I know sometimes people turn out to be fair weather friends, it still hurts when you realize that's all they were all along. I suppose it's partly because you trusted them in the first place to be a solid friend, and then you find out that this trust was misplaced. It's a big disappointment and can be rather discouraging. I'd suggest it also hurts because maybe it makes you feel like your friendship wasn't that big of a deal to that person - again reminding you that your trust was misplaced.

These are just some of those unpleasant, messy, complicated life lessons that I wish we could all learn once and never have to go through again. I'm neither bitter nor angry, just a tad bummed out that I haven't figured out yet things I wish I had.



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