How many times is too many times to trust someone new?
I mean what do we really expect from people?
Are we being unrealistic in what we think friendship looks like?
I mean, what is it really supposed to look like?
And what determines if we stay committed and invested in a friendship?
How do we determine if a new friendship is worth it?
What has this world come to that we feel like it’s more worth our time to choose friends with a higher “following” than friends who haven’t quite made it in the social media world.
I have always been so intrigued by friendships in general.
Maybe in part because I am a really social, extroverted person.
And maybe in part because I have had the title of either “pastor’s daughter”, “pastor’s wife” or both and with that comes expectations…that you never asked for, but are held to, nonetheless.
Another reason could be that I have never had friends my own age.
Growing up, I had to adjust to getting to know people who were either much older or much younger.
It was fine, but I always just longed for a friend my own age, in my own stage of life.
And the cycle that I have seen over and over in my own personal life has been full of a lot of investment and love followed by a lot of back stabbing, judgment and rejection.
As I got older, it seemed like I was still surrounded by people in different ages and stages of life.
Because my role went from being pastor’s daughter to also pastor’s wife, my relationships with people most of the time became a mentor friendship rather than an equal friendship, if that makes sense.
Don’t get me wrong.
I love people. I love being with people. I love serving and caring for people. I love mentoring people and encouraging and exhorting them.
I honestly do. It exhilarates me.
But. I am still only human.
I still can only take being rejected and hurt so many times before I start to feel like its too much.
Like it’s too hard.
Like it’s not worth it.
I sense a wall building.
I start looking at potential new friends and think…I wonder how long they’ll be around.
I hate the feelings of cynicism that arises in me, but I also hate the memories of the pain.
I hate the always-ready-to-rise feelings of not being valued.
Of people choosing other people over me.
Of people not making effort, when I do make the effort.
Of being appreciated when it’s convenient, but ignored when a “better offer” comes up, so to speak.
And even as I write these words out, I see it.
I know where my value comes from.
I know that Jesus loves me. A phrase I have said and sung probably hundreds of thousands of times in my life.
I know I am loved and accepted by the God of the Universe.
I know that. I know that he values me and cares for me and wants me, and will love me forever.
If I am chosen by God himself, why do I let it affect me when someone on earth doesn’t choose me?
I see that in Philippians 2 I am commanded. Commanded to value others above myself.
It is a command that comes from the person who knows more than anyone else what it is like to love and serve and not be appreciated.
And I read that, I know that and I have the ability to feel the truth of that. Until I stop feeling it.
And that is when I realize that I need to stay there, in the power of the Truth.
And the bottom line is this.
I will always have the potential to be rejected.
To have other people chosen over me.
To have people say that they value me with their words, but when an opportunity arises to show it, they don’t.
It is because I live in a broken, sinful world.
I can even be in the position myself of not valuing someone the way that I should.
The part that I have not mentioned although is glaring to me, is the fact that in every single situation where I have been rejected and undervalued it has been other believers.
This is hard to comprehend.
Christian friendships should look different.
They should just be different.
Because as a believer, we should know that there is no favoritism with God.
And the way we love should be the way God loves…not based on book deals, number of followers, looks, finances or status.
And so as I sit here with tears streaming down my face, listening to worship music and feeling all the feelings I have been holding in for so long, I just want to scream out.
I want to ask where all the good, godly, loving and caring friends are.
I want to know ahead of time if my trust in the next friend I meet is going to be worth it.
Isn’t going to end in hurt.
Isn’t going to end in gossip.
Isn’t going to end in walking away.
But the truth is, there is never any way to know.
Everything has risk.
The struggle comes when I start relying too much on my feeling of worth that come from humans.
I need to put all my focus on the value that I have in Christ.
The unconditional love. The ever present help. The ever forgiving Father.
The reward comes from knowing I am obeying Him, not from the length or quality of a friendship on earth.
I wanted to write all of this out when I was feeling the depth of the loneliness and betrayal.
I wanted to write it out to show that you can be open and honest and real and raw but still know that it all comes back to Jesus.
You can feel hurt, and feel rejection but you just can’t sit there forever.
You can cry and you can be sad about the loss, but you just can’t stay in that place forever.
And the reality is, I am commanded to value others as better than myself, so I still need to love and serve and care for people, knowing full well that it could end in rejection.
I can’t let myself hold back because of the risk.
I am not all God wants me to be when I hold back.
I am not showing the unconditional love of my Father when I resist.
I am not being who He called me to be when I withdraw.
I love some more.
And then I love again.
I love for Jesus.
I love because He loves others.
I love because He rewards obedience.
I love because I am never alone.
I love because He loves me.
And when I find true and real satisfaction in my relationship with Jesus, the other needs fade in comparison.
I still feel the hurt and still feel the pain, but it doesn’t define me. It just refines me.
It allows me to lean into the power of Christ that comes the weaker I am.
It grows me, it strengthens me.
It keeps me from being cynical, bitter and unforgiving.
And when I look more like Christ, I become a better person myself.
I become a better wife, daughter, mother, sister, friend.
So what determines if I stay committed and invested in a friendship?
My relationship with God determines that.
So I am wiping my tears.
I am living in the confidence of the Scripture.
And I am continuing to love others regardless of the risk, regardless of the outcome.
It’s not about how many friends I have, it’s about me living to bring glory to God.