Why I Can’t Be Your Friend Today

Preface: This is some regular reader housekeeping.  If this is your first time here, I hope you’re not scared off by me being the meanie I’m about to be, and that if you have thoughts, you’ll send yourself over to the facebook thread for commenting! 

My parents used to force me to buy milk or make a bank deposit. My mother would set her face, straight ahead, mouth pursed, case closed: I would make the deposit or I would be grounded.

I was an introvert and the only cure for introversion was doing daring things. Like buying milk from the IGA.

We all laugh about it now, but I’m grateful my parents persevered with a painfully shy daughter. I’m also grateful for the leadership of one who quipped often enough: “Be a ‘There you are!’ person instead of a ‘Here I am’ person.” I have learned to see people, to not be afraid of buying milk or moving across the country, to build relationship easily, and to not care how much of a fool I have looked.

The tension for me now is to stay the line between intentional relationship building and understanding that it is okay that the number on the list of close friends rarely changes. Three, normally, sometimes four. I’ve taught myself to trust easily, but I do not entrust easily.

Can I unpack this for you, dear readers?

Four Groups of People

Those I do not trust and feel no need to. These are the people who have not seen the gospel as their breath and bread. The strange thing is, this group is mostly made of up unbelievers OR seasoned believers who haven’t let the gospel permeate their lives. They’ve had opportunity to pursue relationship with others and they’ve continued to squander it. My friendship with this group is limited to evangelism and/or less intentional discipleship.

Those I do trust, but feel no need to pursue a deep relationship with. This is probably the largest group. It’s nothing personal, but it’s probably because they have a close group of people with whom they’re walking. This is mostly church folk, blog readers, and friends from various seasons of life. I don’t need another close friend, and chances are, they don’t either. I love the small glimpses of the greater body they afford us, but I’m not going to invest my relational first-fruits in them.

Those I trust and with whom I would consider myself in relationship. These are the people in my most immediate community. Because I’ve moved so much, this group changes often and I’ve come to expect those changes, and not mourn too long when they come. This is usually the group of people (15-20) with whom I do things socially, the intentional discipleship relationships I’m in, guys and girls both who count on me for counsel and friendship. I enter into their mourning and their joy.

Those I trust and entrust. This is the smallest group, never more than three or four people, all of whom live in separate states (these relationships have little to do with proximity). This group includes those to whom I entrust my confession of sin, the deepest things the Lord is teaching me, the deepest sorrows and joys of my heart, struggles of my flesh, and most of all—my time. I seek this group out regularly for their counsel, I trust it when it comes, and this is the group to whom I give my counsel freely.

Let me say that I firmly believe in responding to the Holy Spirit and so there is flexibility in each of these groups, and some overlap, but I do that at the Holy Spirit’s leading and nothing else.

My Struggle

Time is something that whenever an inventory of my life is taken, I find to be the greatest struggle for me. Finances and belongings are rarely difficult for me to give, but time is. This is because time is what people ask the most from me—and contrary to the old milk buying days, saying “No,” is one of the most difficult things for me to do.

If I’ve said “No” to you, or given you what seems to you an unreasonable timeline for when I’m available, or have clearly not pursued a deeper relationship with you, I’m truly sorry for how that comes across. It’s not you, it’s me. I promise. It’s me. I understand you long to know me more, want to understand my heart on some issues, or just want to hang out sometime, but I’m afraid, for today, this blog is going to be the best place for both of us to have that happen. I did not set out to have writing be my primary means of ministry, but more and more the Lord makes it clear this is what today’s portion looks like for me. The amount of interactions that result from this blog and other writing keep my inbox topped in the hundreds most of the time—and I still work a full-time job and am deeply involved in the life of my church.

Your Struggle

If you’re longing to be known—there are so many people who are longing for the same thing and I am not one of them. Reach out. Befriend someone. I think you’d be surprised to find out their hearts beat with the same passion, same depth, and same love mine does.

Someone you know struggles to make deposits—not bank deposits, relationship deposits. Seek them. Find them. Pursue them. They are often times not at the center of the crowd, but on the outskirts. Make yourself at home on the outskirts until one day you find you’re at the center, with two or three people to whom you entrust yourself.

Lives are changed this way.

I promise.

Heaven

Last night a friend of mine shared her desire to sit down and chat for a bit and then we both laughed. She’s busy and she knows I’m busy—because we are not one another’s primary ministry focus these days. She looked me right in the eye and said, “Hey, we get to spend eternity together. That’s way better than coffee and what a relief.” I almost cried.

Folks, we get heaven. An eternity with one another and most importantly Jesus Christ. He’s where our focus should be today and for all eternity. What a joy to abide in that! 

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