We live in a 21st century world where our relationships are surface level, dominated by social media, and often times fickle. Relationships are short lived or dropped because of the tough stuff that interaction with other humans bring. Our world isn’t so much worried about commitment anymore.
I have to admit that I find myself to be a failure in this area, at least to some extent. I can think of some relationships where I’ve “dropped the ball,” so to say.
We get hurt. We feel misunderstood. We don’t understand why we aren’t more of a priority. We get petty. We become offended. We distance ourselves.
And, before you know it, we’re another friend less and a lot more guarded and selfish.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not advocating for abuse of any kind. You deserve to be treated right, wholesomely, and purely. You don’t deserve any type of abuse – verbal, sexual, emotional, or spiritual.
But, I honestly feel – deep down – that we need to grow up and understand that relationships are messy.
(First of all, let me define relationships. I’m talking friendships, work relationships, boss/coworker relationships, dating, marriage, parent/child relationships… ALL of the above.)
So, I’ve complied a “messy list” here of reminders about relationships that I think we all need to hear.
- Relationships take time. Stop rushing.
If you’re like me, you want to be best friends with someone in two minutes. If that doesn’t happen, you’re fine with just being acquaintances, and you don’t put much effort into the relationship.
Wow! How pathetic! Every single thing in life takes time. Nothing worthwhile comes quickly. Give people time to open up. Give yourself time to get to know someone. Stop being so rushed.
- Relationships enhance differences.
There. I said it. This whole “We are friends because we are so alike” stuff covers up the fact that we are all unique and completely different people. Even your best friend processes many things so much differently than you do.
Here’s where I struggle. I become friends with someone – and then I realize how odd, blunt, different, and awkward they can be. And, something inside me starts comparing. “This person can only be your surface level friend; you’re literally so much better than they are.”
Yikes. I even hate admitting to that. But, I think you’re following me. We need to get to the point where we celebrate differences, where we long for variety, where we rejoice that our friends challenge us to see the world in a new light.
Personally, I need friends who process differently than I do. I get too close-minded and stuck in my little routines.
Stop thinking that your friends are the ones that need to change. Maybe it’s you that needs to do the morphing and changing.
- Relationships hurt.
Sin is real, people. The fall – Adam’s choice – the impact of sin. It messed our world up.
Yes, I believe in salvation. Yes, I believe in a purification of the heart and a giving of control to the Holy Spirit.
But, I also believe that no one is perfect. That humans are fallible. That we mess up. We offend and get offended.
The people I love the most – at times – have been the ones who have hurt me the most.
I’ve had times I felt misunderstood, lonely, betrayed, frustrated, and downright hurt.
But, I have found that the beauty of true friendship is commitment and reconciliation.
Furthermore, true love is having someone know the worst things about you, yet still loving you in spite of those things.
It’s time we give people a break. I’m not saying excuse sin. I’m saying, forgive – understand – give the benefit of the doubt. I’m saying – lay aside petty grievances. Start praying and telling God how you feel about people – and asking him to change your heart and your perception of that other person.
- Relationships aren’t about you.
I know. That seems weird to say. I mean, a relationship is a friendship/connection between two people. You are one of those people.
But, we 21st century humans are selfish.
If that friend doesn’t invite me to their party, if that person looks at me like that one more time, if that coworker tries to give me advice again, if my husband annoys me one more time, if my boyfriend doesn’t remember it’s our 4 month anniversary, if that friend doesn’t ask me to be in their wedding, if my mother states her opinion about my children one more time, and on and on and on.
It never stops. We – myself included – are so downright small-minded and selfish.
Me, me, me. Us, us, us.
When’s the last time that we stopped reading into things so much? When’s the last time we assumed when someone gives us advice or makes a comment, that maybe they aren’t trying to be rude or petty but helpful?
What if we refocused every relationship we have? What if we started thinking more about the other? More about what we can do for them? More about what they’re going through or their intentions?
I think we’d be surprised how much more fulfilled we’d feel in our relationships, if we just stopped thinking about ourself and our needs for a second!
(Disclaimer: This should be happening both ways. You deserve to be understood and respected in relationships/friendships, too! But, sometimes it’s us that need to take the first step or refocus.)
- Relationships take a whole lot of work.
If you’re like me, you like things to just happen.
I mean, we all have those friends who we don’t see for years or months. Yet, when we see each other we pick up right where we left off! Treasure those friendships. They are of a rare commodity.
Normally, that’s just not how it goes. We have to give if we truly want to receive.
Many times I’ve said this when referring to friendships that have fallen by the wayside, “Well, I mean – I never really contacted or kept in touch with them. But, you know, they didn’t try to reach out to me, either.”
I’m not saying we should bemoan or feel pathetic about every relationship dropped over the years, because there are times and seasons for friendships. I am saying, though, that we should stop blaming the other person and just own up to relationship failure.
No, you’re not going to be able to rebuild every single relationship/friendship you’ve lost.
But, it might be time to start putting more effort into the friendships you do have and the ones that are starting to fall away.
It’s time to just reach out, send an encouraging text, or finally meet up for that coffee/lunch date with that new friend you’ve somehow put off because of busy-ness.
Or — Maybe it’s a little more serious. Perhaps you need to give grace, patience, understanding, forgiveness, or leeway.
There’s many times I’ve felt so alone. Yes, me. Extroverted me, who’s never met a stranger. And, I’ve realized it’s because I’ve let relationships stay at surface level, instead of putting forth effort to take them to a deeper level.
I think we’d be surprised how many blossoming friendships we’ll start having if we just put in the work.
- Relationships aren’t perfect. Ever.
Relationships (99% of the time) are not picture or Instagram perfect, ok? Get over yourself. As my Mother used to say, “Wake up and smell the roses, honey!”
Expectations. That’s what really gets us most of the time. We have these high hopes and dreams of what our friendships and relationships should look like.
Guess what? They never look like how you think they should!
But, I’ve found that authentic relationships – ones that have ups and downs, hurts and bruises, joys and sorrows, wins and losses – Real relationships. Those are the ones I treasure. The ones I hold near and dear to my heart. Those are the ones that stand the test of time.
Thanks for reading this “messy list” about relationships. I hope and pray that these reminders cause us to rekindle lost relationships and to deepen the ones we have. In a world full of fluffy relationships, let us be people who pursue and create the solid, authentic ones.
Photo creds: Unsplash.com (Bernard Hermant)