Like my series on marriage, I make the disclaimer that I am not a licensed counselor. I am a pastor and my views are driven by God’s word, so you must understand that my answers always trace back to one source….God. I decided to do this series based on my observations of teenage friendships this year, both in the high school setting and in the church setting. I have seen best of friends tear each other apart verbally. I have read post after post and tweet after tweet by friends who have literally declared social media war on each other; and let’s not even get started on the abomination of all social media abominations- the diabolical subtweet. In the end, I’ve watched people I care very deeply about, upended, uprooted, and unhinged by people they have poured a good chunk of their life in to. So, I want to address a few things that I have observed over the last several months and maybe help some friendships out along the way. So, here we go with the first installment- Where is the passion?
When we talk about friendships, any relationship really, it comes down to one simple things…love. Now I know what you are thinking, “Here we go again on one of Keith’s I love you rants and how much he loves us and blah blah blah blah…..” Well, it is me. Seriously though, what I am about to tell you is going to sound weird…at first; but I think it will make great sense to you as we go along this path. You should treat your friendships like you treat your romantic relationships with a few minor exceptions. Think this through with me. What is the biggest difference between your best friend and the person you are dating? Now if you are not dating anyone, first off bravo- you are much better off; but secondly go back to when you were dating someone. The biggest difference is the “romance” stuff. You don’t kiss all over your best friend and you don’t usually hold your best friend’s hand (some do, but generally speaking). That’s it. Well, if you are doing more than that with your significant other then all I can say to you is STOP!!!!!!!!!! But, I digress. Friendships actually require more attention and care than romantic relationships. This is because they last longer than your relationships. If that is the case, then why do we not put the most effort into our friendships? Why is it when we get a bf/gf we completely abandon our friends, only to expect them to be sitting there waiting for us until we get back? I realize that we don’t always do this consciously, but intentionality in our friendships is a dying art. When you treat your friendships like you would your relationships, you get a long lasting bond between you and your friends that will stand the test of time. Which brings me back to the point- it’s a matter of love. Do we truly love our friends?
When Jesus began His ministry, he summed up the commandments by saying love God and love others. You see, everything in this life of relationships comes back to love. Let me put it another way. What are we passionate about? Think about the things you are passionate about. Those are the thing that you are willing to sacrifice for and defend. Passion is a word that literally means to suffer (such as the Passion of the Christ). If you are willing to suffer for something, it is safe to say that you love that thing you are passionate about. Are we passionate about our relationships? Or have they become as temporary as many marriages have become?
The truth of the matter is that we are incapable of maintaining very many impactful relationships because of the effort it takes to make those relationships work. It is the same reason why we don’t get passionate about 20 different causes. I am passionate about world hunger and human slavery- but you don’t hear about me championing many other causes. Why is that? Well, simply because that would take way more time and effort that I have to give. I have over 1,000 “friends” on Facebook, but I don’t have a close friendship with all of them. Likewise, we are able to make impacting, lasting, close relationships with very few people for the shear fact that, when done properly, you simply don’t have the time and energy. One of the most overused words/abbreviations today is BFF. For some girls, especially, everyone they have ever befriended is their bff. This is simply not the case. If you want to know who your true close friends are, find the people you are passionate about having a friendship with and if they are passionate about your friendship too, then you will have a bond that can really stand up to the things this world throws at you. Those are the people you truly love.
So, if you are worried that you only a few close friends, don’t think another thing about it, it is likely that you have finally narrowed the field down to the people you are passionate about and that are passionate about you. True friendships are about love and passion, a biblical definition of passion- the willingness to suffer for that which you love. That’s not to say your friends won’t change, but that is an article for another day. Be passionate about the people you are closest to, because they are passionate about you and they love you very much.
In Christ Alone,
Rev. Bro. Coach