Failing at Friendship
What kind of images fill your mind when you hear that word?
I see women (probably because I am a one) sitting around a table of warm drinks chatting. I see women sifting through clothes on a rack in the mall. I see women laughing while getting pedicures. I see women cooking together, talking on the phone, picking up each other’s kids, sitting in the stands cheering for each other’s kids, bringing food to the hospital, praying together, studying the Bible together, living life together.
What do you see? What does friendship look like to you?
When I asked “What immediately pops into your mind when you hear the word friendship?” on facebook people responded:
*a true friend is someone with who you can sit and not HAVE to say anything…it’s okay to have silence because you are just that comfortable and there’s no need to fill in the silence…just one of the many things I’ve learned over the years.
*You don’t have to talk daily to feel close.
*Friendship is knowing you can say whatever you are feeling and know you will not be judged.
*Always there even if distance separates you
How do you feel when you hear the word friendship?
I imagine, I don’t claim to know, that most people would feel happy and loved simply upon hearing the word. It probably brings to mind thoughts of their own friends. The individuals who have poured love and companionship into their lives and into whose lives they’ve done the same.
Is that how you feel when you hear the word friendship? Happy? Warm? Comforted?
This morning while browsing my facebook newsfeed I came upon this link to an article “In Need of a Friend” by April Motl. The title drew me, so I read it.
The content didn’t let me down. From the first word to the final word, I was hooked.
I struggle in the friendship department. I often have been heard saying I don’t have friends. Unless you count my husband, who is my best human friend, I really don’t.
I do have acquaintances. I have many acquaintances. Some of those acquaintances I may even refer to as “friends”, but in truth, not one of them fits my visualization of friendship as given above.
Not long ago a “friend” overheard me say that I didn’t have friends.
Later she asked, “What would you call me if not a friend?”
I replied, “An acquaintance.”
“Why? I thought we were friends.”
“Do we go out for lunch? Share confidences? Do hobbies together?”
“Well, no, we both have busy lives and we’re in different places in our lives. I see your point.”
She is an acquaintance. If I were in a desperate spot, yes, I would call her for help, but no, I wouldn’t call her just to chat or to deal with a day-to-day nuance like I would a friend.
I, like the little girl and the adult woman mentioned in the beginning of this article, struggle with friendship. It seems like everyone I know already has a best friend. Everyone seems to have a close-knit group of friends that they hang out with, have coffee with, shop with, raise kids with, and I always seem to be on the outside looking in.
Lately my desire for a friend has been more intense than others. I feel like I’m an emotional drain on my husband. I mean, come on, just how much can one man handle? 😉 Most women have other women they can talk to, hang out with, process thoughts with, and I dump all of that on my husband. All the time. For over sixteen years.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I think a lot of people of both gender take too much outside of their marriages. I believe my marriage is stronger because of how dependent we are upon each other.
However, I believe that some “girl time” could also be good for me as an individual and could also enhance our time as a couple.
My kids also often discuss the fact that I have no friends. They don’t discuss it as if it’s odd, per se, but just as a fact. Dad has friends, each of them has friends, but mom has no friends of her own. This really concerns me because neither of my children have formed any significant relationships with any individuals. They both have lots of acquaintances but no true friends.
I don’t believe that’s an accident. They’ve learned the behavior from me. I never said anything out loud. They just noticed as they grew up and claimed my behaviors as their own. Be kind to everyone. Respect everyone. Be friendly to everyone. My children do those things.
They don’t typically get invited to birthday parties, though. They don’t typically have people they invite to things show up. They don’t call and talk to people on the phone. They don’t have nor attend sleepovers.
These things were learned behaviors. They learned them through observation rather than instruction.
It was actually poured in to me verbally as a child that friends were a bad thing. That they would stab you in the back. That nothing good would come from trusting people.
My fear of friendliness is deep-seated. It isn’t something new. It isn’t something that developed over-night. An individual repeated their own beliefs to me long enough that eventually after enough bad experiences of my own I came to accept them as truth. Without verbalizing those beliefs, I have in turn passed them on to my own children.
And yet I decided, yes, decided, a couple of years ago that I was going to have friends. That I was going to open myself up to potential risk and find friends, and no one wants to be my friend. I have prayed and I have asked others to pray for God to send me a female friend. To date, it has not worked.
Today I read an article that ended by reminding me just why God might not send me a real human friend other than my husband.
There’s a Chris Tomlin song that says “All of You is more than enough for all of me”…maybe it’s time I accept that God is enough and I don’t need any more.
I’m going to encourage you to read the article I reference at the beginning of my post. It contains the scriptures I would typically include as devotion. They’re their in Mrs. Motl’s article along with some very sound friendship advice. And if you find yourself “In Need of a Friend”, well, you may just be looking at a kindred spirit.