This post has been long awaited. The reason why it took me so long to get here is because I had to come full circle with the realization that I am the source of the problems in many of my friendship. And I had to one by one express that to the people in whom my relationships with seemed to be falling through the cracks. I had to tell them. The other night I told the last one. I finally learned my lesson.
We all think we have a right to people we love the most. We don’t. We all think we have a right to be loved the way that we desire. We don’t. I know I have said this time and time again, but none of us has the right to anything in any relationship other than to love and serve the other party wholly and expect absolutely nothing in return.
God has brought me a long way in learning that. I am not perfect. I know I still have a tendency to look at a relationship through the scope of what I want or need or can receive, but I continually reflect upon the gospel to see that Christ’s love fulfills and I have to let go of me and learn to desire to serve and love my friends.
Before God taught me this, I was the extreme opposite. I was selfish and boldly legalistic in my expectations for my friendships. When I was in high school, new to learning the ways of the Lord, a leader at my church introduced me to DTR’s. Defining the relationship. Most people use this term when they are talking abut romance, but he clearly stated that we needed to sit down with our friends, not just ones of the opposite sex, but same sex relationships, and lay out for them our expectations as they relate to time, love, energy, resources, support, and title of the friendship. My little law-abiding heart ran with this theory on perfect relationship building. This lead to me putting extremely high expectations on my female relationships. Ones in which they could never fulfill. It was a graceless and loveless way to enter a relationship.
As I grew in faith God began working on my heart and teaching me to love like Jesus and how to be gracious to these women. I learned to love more and more selfishly. The problem then became what I created. You see I had now trained all my friends to hold ME up to a standard I could never live up to. I had trained them to rebuke my every action, since I had laid that before them and continually processed our every encounter for the purpose of evaluating our flaws. They were suddenly hurting me for doing the very thing I had earlier expressed was most loving to me. I had caused these women and myself to loose focus on the cross and to create a new purpose in relationships, other than what the Bible says. I had invited them onto the dance floor with me and expected them to waltz without stepping on my toes. And they knew that. No matter how my actions displayed love and grace, I had still built the foundations of our friendship on selfishness and rules. I put God, and them, in a box. No matter how much I may have left that line of thinking and behaving, that’s what I had told them. How could I expect them to not view our relationship in those terms?
In our relationships we have purpose. We are called to love others, then use that love to love God and love even more people. Our purpose should not be sanctification, it should not be to grow, it should not be to work together, it should not be to receive joy, and it should not be discipleship. It should always be to love and to bring God love and glory through that. All those other things are simply fruit that God allows to grow on His terms and in His timing. Not ours. Not duct taped on fruit. We are called to love fully. To love sacrificially. To love honestly. To encourage. To LOVE. There are no other boundaries or rules or parameters in that. Know the heart of God and be in communion with Him and allow that to overflow onto all your other relationships.
Even in saying that, I know its an extremely hard thing to do. It is so hard to look at someone who you desire love from and think “how can I love you like Christ and serve you today?” Even if they don’t return the favor. It’s even harder when they hurt you. We can only do it by the grace of God.
I can name off a few girls in particular whom I have done this too, in order to protect the innocent I am not going to. But I will say this. I’m sorry. I don’t look at you the same way. I love you and I treasure you. I wish I could turn the clock back and un-do this. I wish I could have learned this when I was 4. But that’s not what happened. I can only blame me.
If there is one thing I can say walking away from this with my tethered white flag of defeat is this: I learned not to be like that. I am learning to hold my tongue. To speak in love. To love everyone not for what they can give me, but because Christ first loved me.