|Our little church group, I'm second from the left. Clearly, our moms dressed us fabulously!|
I didn't make many friends during college. Some of that is because I'm only half an extrovert and was struggling a bit with depression. There were people I would smile at and say hello in passing, but less than a handful that I spent time with and who knew me well. After college, those friendships weren't what they could have been. I see where I could have cared more, been more invested, been more other-oriented. If I'm being honest, Michael and I were so obsessed with each other that we really didn't make much time for anyone else. We've both admitted that to each other at separate times and it kind of felt good to mutually agree that it should have been different.
After we got married and moved away, it was a hard realization that some people weren't really part of my life anymore, and that I wasn't a part of theirs. It was even harder when I was shown my own selfishness that contributed to that. I had tunnel vision through college and once life quieted down, I realized I was really lonely. Some of it is natural- getting older, choosing different priorities, becoming different people. Life gets busy, but I don't want that to be my excuse for letting relationships fizzle out or not showing love to the people in my life, right here and now.
The thing was, I don't think I knew how to really, truly be a friend once it wasn't easy...when it took effort to make phone calls from college or hang out during a short weekend home from school, when it took a little planning to remember birthdays, and on a deeper note, when it took me looking outside of my bubble to see when someone was hurting, needed encouragement, or needed practical help.
All this thinking was brought about by thinking about community and my desire to live life alongside others, to do life together, and allow others to see a glimpse of the character of Christ through me. I want to be vulnerable enough to let others into our messy and ugly and accept them for theirs. Those kind of relationships take each person living the gospel out in their lives, and that's something I'm still learning how to do.
This isn't a beat myself up kind of post.Thankfully there is grace. Grace in that I've been shown how I can be a better friend. Grace in that lots of the friendships I haven't invested much time in just need a little TLC. And grace in that God has placed people in my life who have shown me what all of that looks like. That's why one of my goals this year is to reach out. I want to show other people I care and not just assume they already know. I want to invest time into getting to know the people in my life, getting to really know the good and even the not so good, and show them the Love that's been shown to me. I want to be more giving with the time and resources that have been so graciously given to me.
So I'm curious - How do you feel invested in? What makes you feel cared about in a friendship?