Lately I have been feeling this weight of loneliness that might be typical for my season of life, but that doesn’t make me feel any better. When you’re lonely it’s common to find yourself asking questions about how you got there or why you feel this way.
“Is it just me? Am I just no fun to be around? Am I just expecting too much?” Sometimes it is good to do some self-evaluating but we must also remember that a friendship is a two-way street not a one way. We have all heard that we can’t control how others act but we can control how we react, and this remains true in friendships. So, there is no use in sulking about these friendships even though it is very easy to do. However, there are three effective things we can do: we can re-evaluate these friendships, check our expectations, and finally strive to be content in the steady and constant relationships that have already been bestowed upon us (spouse, children, possibly even siblings).
So, sometimes we need to re-evaluate our friendships for a couple of reasons. First of all, we need to evaluate just how beneficial this friendship is for you. Perhaps in asking yourself questions like: Does _______ help point me toward Christ and push me to be a better person? Does______ seem to genuinely care for me and our friendship? Is this a friendship I see continuing for years to come? We all know (especially those who are mothers) how busy our days can get sometimes and how easy it can be to forget things, and this should be taken into account. If we have evaluated a friendship and believe it is a friendship worth continuing to seek we should attempt to resolve our issues with that person before feeling defeated and giving up on that friendship. For example, I have a friend from church and although we don’t see each other much we would email every few days back and forth until she stopped responding and it would go weeks before hearing a response. I became very defeated but in asking these questions to myself I knew she was a friend who consistently pointed me to Christ and urged me to be a better person every time we would talk. I knew her friendship was good for me so I emailed her and tried my best to express how I was feeling in a non-confrontational way to simply express my thoughts on what was going on because I wanted to allow her the opportunity to set the record straight and explain what was really going on. She has two children that are very close together in age and she explained that she has just been so caught up in taking care of them that she just kept forgetting. She admitted that it was a her thing and something she needed to work on and apologized. I am so glad that I decided that friendship was worth it to me and that I decided to ask her what was going on. Otherwise I would have given up a friendship that I truly value and know is good for me and helps me in striving to glorify God and live a life that is holy and pleasing to Him.
Sometimes, our friendships don’t seem as fulfilling as we thought because we have made unrealistic expectations that are just impossible for others to meet, so we have to evaluate what it is we are expecting of that person. This requires looking within ourselves and figuring out what it is we are looking for, and therefore asking of them. Am I expecting them to spend all their free time with me or talking/texting/messaging with me? Am I expecting them to sacrifice time with others to spend time with me? or am I simply expecting them to respond to me in a timely manner and invest the same amount of dedication and care that I have in them? What am I expecting? Remember how I said friendship is a two-way street not a one way? Well this is part of the evaluating our expectations of others. It is good to initiate things and to call and message and text people whose friendship you value but you have to be careful to balance it and try not to be overwhelming or pushy. Trust me, I am totally speaking to myself on this one. It is a huge struggle for me to not be overbearing, especially when I feel like I really clicked with someone and have found a new friendship. As a result a lot of my friendships come on strong where we are texting every day or every other day and hanging out quite a bit. I have started to realize this in myself and so I will try to evaluate if I am being too overwhelming. I will look back at correspondences such as texts or calls or FB private messages and see who has been initiating whom. If it has been me over and over day after day I will decide to leave them alone and not message them any more and I wait to see what they will do in response. If a week goes by and I haven’t heard anything, especially early on I get the picture and realize that maybe that friendship wasn’t as close as I originally thought. If they contact me then I know the relationship goes both ways and I have not overwhelmed or annoyed the person. There should be some give and take to your friendships and I really believe that one person should not be doing all of the work. However, I do think we have to adjust our expectations differently according to where they are in life. For instance, a close friend of mine is married, a mother to a sweet almost two year old girl and is working all summer with kids. I know she is busy with her daughter, keeping her marriage alive and dealing with work and all its stressors. Having said all that I don’t expect her to call me every week and talk for hours at a time. We have to adjust our expectations based upon who the friend is and what is going on in their life.
Although it can be a struggle when a friendship seems to be dissipating, we should not forget the relationships we have been blessed with that have remained strong and constant. Sometimes I can become really focused upon the friendships that aren’t going the way I expected and I sort of forget the best friendship I have in this life with my husband, Steven. Steven has been and is my rock and we may have our disagreements and moments but he is the one true constant friend who is there for me day in and day out. Sometimes, when we are having feelings of doubt and loneliness about certain friendships it is best for us to turn our focus back to the friendships and relationships that have been steadfast and then it doesn’t seem so bad. No matter where you are in life, there is always one constant friendship that never disappoints, waivers, or leaves us which is our Lord. In John 15:15 Jesus says, “No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you.”Lamentations 3:22-25 says, “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. ‘The Lord is my portion,’ says my soul, ‘therefore I will hope in him.’ The Lord is good to those who wait for him, to the soul who seeks him.” Really isn’t God the best friend we could ever have, He is steadfast and is always good to us! Praise the Lord.
So, when we feel a friendship is in trouble we should always take the time to re-evaluate the friendship itself, our expectations, and never forget the friendships that God has already been bestowed upon us, especially our relationship with the Lord himself. We should also prayerfully consider what the desire of the Lord is when deciding whether a friendship is worth the fight.The decision is ultimately ours, but I believe it should be made wisely. Proverbs 28:26 says, “Whoever trusts in his own mind is a fool, but he who walks in wisdom will be delivered.” So, might we seek God’s wisdom so that we might not foolishly toss away friendships that could further our walk with God.