Courageous Relationships

“I quit!”

Those words spew from my lips at least 2 or 3 times while stomping through my house like a rhino on a rampage.

(Warning: Honest revelation forthcoming)

Sometimes people wear me out. I love people, I thrive in relationship. But occasionally friendship seems more trouble than it’s worth. On this particular day I’d reached my limit of trying to maintain the good graces of a few of people. I’m thankful to have many longstanding, true friendships that are both safe and rewarding. I’m not talking about those. But one or two others? Well let’s just say we were still “in progress.” I was letting these exceptions dictate my mood. And my disappointment was taking itself out on the pots and pans.

Sometimes being in relationship feels like walking a tightrope. We precariously put one foot in front of the other, hoping hoping hoping we don’t slip and say or do something that offends or wounds. It’s never my intention, and I doubt it’s yours. If you’re like me, you might even lose sleep trying to do the right things and avoid the wrong ones. But I’m made up of flesh after all. At times I’m insecure, proud, selfish, and inconsiderate. Even when I’m trying my best not to be so.

And so are you.

You see? A tightrope. Sometimes it feels like you can nail 100 steps, but miss one and you’ll plummet to your death.

About the time I was stomping around my house, I read Mike Hyatt’s blog titled “How To Become Your Spouses Best Friend.” A beautiful post, and wonderful insight for a marriage–or friendship. In fact, I couldn’t get past his first point, and his list of what he wants most in a friend. With each bullet, I affirmed Yes! Yes! Yes! That’s what I want in a friend. But why is it so hard to find?

I should’ve stopped there. But I didn’t. I read his second point. Unfortunately. Okay, I don’t really mean “unfortunately” because his advice is sound, but OUCH:

“Now become that person for your spouse.”

Or, in my foot-stomping case, become that person for a friend.

Wowza. I do believe certain friendships last for only a season. And I do believe certain toxic relationships require letting go for the sake of emotional health. However, his principal is right on. And I needed to hear it.

Want the kind of friend who sees the best in you, extends grace, speaks well of you in your absence, and celebrates your successes?

Stop stomping and muttering, and start being that kind of friend.

What’s your biggest frustration in friendship? Your greatest joy?

 

 

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9 thoughts on “Courageous Relationships

  1. Great post! I have a couple of issues with friendships. One, feeling like I give it all and they return nothing. Second, they expect more from me than I am willing to give. I don’t like to talk on the phone. Some people refuse to get that and then make rude comments about it to me and others. It’s hard to find a perfect balance. And getting rid of toxic people can be so hard because I don’t always see the toxicity at first and by the time I realize it, I’m too far into the friendship to just disappear.

    Blessings,
    Mel
    Please feel free to stop by: Trailing After God

    • I share your frustrations! Great insights, M. And, by the way, I don’t like talking on the phone, either. :) Really tough for me! I’d rather be face to face than stuck on the phone. Something about making eye contact, watching body language, seeing a smile … all those things make the moment of connection much more rich than a phone call.

      Anywho …

      I struggle with knowing the difference between a “toxic” relationship and simply an “imperfect” one. Everyone will make mistakes, every friendship will endure hiccups now and again. But when does it become toxic?

  2. What about when friendships change? That’s a tough one for me. Sometimes life brings about changes of circumstances and the natural outcome is a change in the friendship. I have a hard time moving past what “was” and accepting what “is”. It becomes a conscious choice to love, trust and continue pouring into the friendship in spite of a hurting heart. Life changes; people change; friendships change. For me, it’s a matter of trying to remember to look at the heart of my friend and to extend that grace when expectations differ from reality. It’s a hard thing to do, but with God’s help and love for the friend, nothing is impossible. It might not be the feeling that comes naturally, but it’s certainly a choice that I can make for someone that I love!

    • Another good insight! I used to think I was responsible for maintaining and growing every relationship in my life. Of course, over time, the number of those relationships grew to an unmanageable amount, primarily because of the number of times we moved from state to state. In those cases, I learned that relationships sometimes change: geographically, in interests, in stage of life, etc. Not all relationships will continue, nor should they. In order to have a handful of meaningful relationships, I think it’s important to avoid trying to juggle hundreds of them. It’s the whole “mile wide, but an inch deep” scenario. I now feel more freedom to choose which friendships are worth the time and investment, and then hanging in there with those special ones through the almost certain difficulties.

  3. In lo, these 52, years o’ mine, I think Flawed Friendships are made up of two people who care about each other and both willing to talk through sticky issues in love and honesty, as you pointed out, face to face. When apologies are sincerely given and accepted and the friendship goes forward… maybe a little wobbly at first but gathers strength and gets stronger in the broken places. “Love covers a multitude of screwups.” (Roughly translanted:) And Lord knows, we are all screw ups at times.

    Toxic relationships happen when communication ceases or becomes unclear or is uneven, or leaves one of the parties guessing, alot. (Color Me Confused, could be the name of my first marriage.) It happens when one person’s desire to control another makes the other feel like they cannot be themselves. (I avoid friends now who make me feel like I have to hide about 50 percent of what I really feel and believe.) It happens when there’s not an even give and take, when somebody always feels the giver and the other, the taker. (In conversation, in favors, etc.)

    • I love the “Love covers a multitude” verse. Beautiful, beautiful. And thanks for the counsel on the difference between flawed and toxic relationships. Good insight there!

  4. Ay, yi, yi Michele. You must be living in my head. (Poor you!!) This past year has been incredibly stretching in the whole friendship area. Really feels more like one long continuous open heart surgery. A lot of opportunity for God to expose my own selfish motives and grow in areas of weakness. Also, to stand firm when necessary. One of my biggest struggles is trying to figure out how to handle the mostly negative people that seem to be surrounding my life. I’ve realized that I need to take the time to connect with the ones who are strong in their faith and encourage me to keep my focus on what’s important.

    • Haha! I don’t mind living in your head at all. But, I may be the one responsible for causing all the chaos! :)

      Relationships DO expose the best and worst of ourselves, don’t they? We don’t have to look in any mirrors as long as we live in isolation. It is with others that we see our flaws most clearly — in marriage as well as friendship! I’m trying to be more deliberate about my relationships, though. That’s not easily done.

  5. I’m reading a wonderful book on this topic. It’s called “Life Together” by Dietrich Bonhoffer. It’s so convicting, and yet so encouraging:
    “Christian community is a gift of God to which we have no claim.”

    I’m so thankful for the gifts of community that God has surrounded me with, even though we all experience pain at times.

    Love you Michele.