According to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, the need to belong and be known is right in the middle. Some people look at being known and see it as the need to be famous, well-known or popular. On the other hand, people need people. They don’t always realize it but they do.
On Sunday, the sermon at church was about finding applies, people who have your back when things get rough. For some people this can be very difficult. Introverts don’t reach out because they are shy and don’t want to open up. Men will have ‘friends’ or associates but they still don’t really share or get deep with one another. Men will barely open up to their wives let alone share their deepest thoughts with their friends. Then there are people like me, who are independent, don’t like to ask for help or open up. And unfortunately, the older you are, in my opinion, the harder it can be to find new friends.
For me, there have been times in my life when opening up to others has been very difficult. In my past, I would often pretend everything was okay. I didn’t want to tell people the truth about what was going on. I didn’t want to appear weak or helpless. I didn’t want people to judge me for my past. I didn’t want people to feel sorry for me. I was afraid of what people would think of me if they knew the truth. In many ways, I felt like a failure.
When I met my Alpha Sisters almost 6 years ago, I held back. Yes, I wanted to find new friends but I did not want to open the scars or closet doors or see what was under the rug. I wanted to put on a happy face and hope they liked what they saw without having to go any deeper. That did not last long.
Ironically, when it came to meeting men in my past, it was a bit of the opposite. When I met potential dates, I tended to be more assertive, unpolished, in an attempt for them to see the worst part of me. I figured if they could tolerate/accept the less appealing parts of me, they would like the rest. To some extent, it worked, though I am not sure how (and I do not recommend it). I met my husband 7 years ago. We met in the afternoon on a Sunday, had our first date a few hours later and had 2 more dates the first week. Now here we are. He loves the best of me and still accepts the worst of me.
I remember when I led The Daniel Plan small group, we were talking about friends, as that is one of the components of the program, and how to find new friends. Yes, you can find friends organically, you met through people you know, or at work or at church, and you just start talking and realize you click. Other times, like with one of my best friends, we kinda knew each other from church but never really talked. One day, I decided that I would ask her out for coffee as an opportunity to get to know one another.
Does any of this sound familiar? It kinda sounds like dating. So at what point with friends do you start opening up to the nitty gritty details?
One thing we talk about at Celebrate Recovery is boundaries. If one starts sharing too much personal data right off the hop, there may be some serious co-dependency issues. On the flip side, if you don’t start sharing personal information soon, they will give up on you and walk away. There goes another potential friend. Then you start wondering what is wrong with you that people don’t want to be friends with you.
I have struggles with this for a long time. Just last summer, my sister and I were kinda talking about this. She (who is 7 years older than me) has friends whom she has known since high school whereas I did not have anyone in my life that I had known for more than 5 years (Thank you Alpha Sisters!).
I have had so many friends walk out of my life over the years. Because of this, yes, thoughts that went through my head included, “What is wrong with me?” I really struggled with this for a long time. I finally came to the realization that there is nothing wrong with me. The reason I lost friends was we grew apart. The reason I was never friends with certain people is we were too different and we were not meant to be friends. Again, this sounds a lot like dating.
Here is a fun thought the Pastor pointed out on Sunday. If you take out of the Bible all the stories that talk about relationships between people, most of the Bible would be cut out. It would be a fraction of its current size. God did not design us to live and go through this life alone. We were created to love God and one another. We were created to be wives, husbands, parents, friends.
There are so many stories of friendship in the Bible. There is Daniel and his friends Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah. We can’t forget the beautiful friendship between Jonathan and David. Job had his friends, though they were not always as supportive as they could be but they had their moments. The disciples were friends with one another and with Jesus. Paul and Timothy were very good friends and companions. Elijah and Elisha were there for and depended on one another.
The Book of Proverbs has multiple tidbits of ideas about friendships and relationships in general. Look in chapters 17-19 and 27. One of the most famous references about relationships is in Ecclesiastes 4:9-11. I used this Bible reference when we surprised my parents with a vow renewal.
As shown above, John 15 contains Jesus’ words about bearing fruit and pruning trees but also about friendships.
“As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command. I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you. This is my command: Love each other.John 15:9-17
One of the most important parts of being a Christian is our relationship with God. The focus is not just about how we treat others or our relationships with people around us. Our relationship with God is to be our priority. Relationships need to be a two-way street. He is there for us, but are we there for Him? Are we defending Him to others? Do we call Him our friend? Jesus calls us His friend. Do we say the same about Him?
I often talk about the weird and wonderful ways God works in my life. I originally wrote this message in my notebook on Monday night. Because of everything going on in my life, I was not able to post it until tonight. In the past few days God has shown me things about people in my life that impact certain relationships.
God bring friends into our life for a reason and He takes them out for a reason. This is what I need to focus on in the coming days as I go through these changes. I need to focus on my friendship with God. God will bring people into my life as He sees fit.
In the comments below, please share your thoughts on friendships or struggles you have had with finding new friends.