I am sitting at a Barnes and Noble trying to type this post and next to me is a table with 4 women. They are obviously friends. They are smiling, laughing, sharing stories about their lives, families and other friends. It reminds me of my own experience with my own friends. When we get together we laugh, share stories and commiserate. But these types of relationships don't just happen. They take time and effort, just like our faith, our marriages and so many other good things like diet, exercise and prayer. This week I have been looking at things that stunt our growth, first with our faith and our marriages. We also can come up against roadblocks in our friendships. I have found with some friends our relationships continue to deepen and broaden; with others not so much. Sometimes that difference is due to differing personalities or wider age gaps. Once in a while a friendship struggles for other reasons. Today, I'd like to look at four friendship hindrances.
1. Jealousy and competition. There is no worse feeling than to be jealous of your friends. When I was in junior high my best girlfriend and I loved going to amusement parks together. Being in junior high, the hormones beginning to surge, we would often look for cute boys and then follow them discretely around the park. My friend Stacey was a beautiful girl. She had some Native American blood which gave her a gorgeous tan in the summer. She also had lovely, full lips. I was your average tomboy with a bad haircut. I started to notice that boys would watch her and look at her or try to talk to her. I might as well have been a smushed piece of gum on the bottom of her flip flop. I remember feeling very jealous and by the end of the day I would be glad to go home. That attitude did nothing to solidify our friendship. Even as adults we can become jealous of what our friends have or don't have, their homes, spouses, careers or families. We feel that we have to be better, smarter, prettier. We have bought into the philosophy that says, "I am not enough." Having this mentality will push you to become competitive and bitter, because your life will not look like theirs.
2. Unconfessed hurts and sins. If you read my other two posts this week this will sound familiar. If we allow jealousy, competition or other bad attitudes to dictate our actions and thoughts it will, eventually affect our friendships. We need to be honest and we need to ask the Lord to help us in this area. Paul admonished us to be content.
Learning to be content takes focus and practice.
Taking every thought captive. Every time you feel jealous of what your friend has, take it captive and give it to Jesus. Follow this up by being honest with your friend. If they are a true friend they will help you walk through the difficulty rather than running away. Do the same for them.
3. Technology. This is a tight rope walk. Technology can enhance friendships with the ability to text, call , Skype, Twitter and so on, but it really is a double edged sword. It gives us little or no time to check our facts before we send along a piece of news (gossip) about another person. It also allows us to text one friend while another friend is sitting at the same table. These types of activities can lead to misunderstandings and mistrust. Technology also becomes a suitcase full of our own interests and hobbies which we continue to read about, play, watch or listen to, when we are supposed to be hanging out with our friends. Having your phone on in case some one needs to get a hold of you is one thing. Playing with your phone while we are supposed to be having lunch...well, I am sorry to say this, but that is rude!
4. Busyness. Once again, I must touch on the "B" word. Life is busy. There is no way around that. And in today's face paced, bottom-line driven world it is hard to slow down. However, to maintain and grow our friendships and any worthwhile relationships we need to make a choice to get off the wheel and out of the gerbil cage. Recently a friend of mine had a crisis occur in her family. I texted her, stopped by and went on walks with her. There was a point on one day where I reached for my phone to text her and see if she wanted to get together and I thought, "I don't have time! I need to grocery shop and work on the blog. I have to go to that party tomorrow night and bring food...." I shook my head and reached for my phone. We took a walk that same day and we both benefited. Our emotions benefited. Our health benefited. Our spirits benefited and our friendship benefited. Busyness is a fact of life, but friendship is a choice.