spaghettipie

We’re on the same team, Part 2

In continuing my discussion on this little phrase, I arrive at the next aspect of this recurring theme: friendships.

The Creator arranged things so that we need each other. ~Basil of Caesarea

In elementary school, my best friend was my next door neighbor. We played together nearly every day, taking turn at each other’s houses and even carpooling to school. One Saturday my mom and I spent the morning going to garage sales in our neighborhood. We arrived at a house a few blocks away from ours, and I was entranced by a squirrel they had in a cage outside. Soon we discovered that another little girl lived there . . . and we were exactly the same age. We instantly hit it off, and I ended up staying there the rest of the day to play. When it was time to go, we arranged to get together the following day to play as well.

The next several weeks passed with me alternating play dates with my neighbor and with my new friend. I was a little nervous about introducing them to each other, particularly as I enjoyed the sole focus of attention in each relationship. Finally, however, the day came when it was just silly to not play all together.

At first, it wasn’t that bad. The three of us became quite a trio, but I was always the central point. The other two girls did not get together without me since I was the common friend. After a while, though, they became friends themselves. The first time I realized they had played together without me, I was both angry and scared. I was the common friend! They needed me! What if they became better friends with each other than with me? What if they stopped playing with me all together and only played with each other? It was hard not to be jealous and protective.

Those feelings didn’t stop back in elementary school. To some degree, I’ve always struggled with those thoughts. . . until I realized that my life motto applies here too. I had to stop and ask myself, what is the point of friendships? It’s not to make me feel valued and connected, although that is certainly a positive result. It’s not about filling a void or a need, although friends can do that for you. Ultimately, the point of friendships (and all relationships, for that matter) is to teach me something new about my relationship with Christ. Through a friend’s love for me, I experience a tangible expression of God’s love. Through a friend’s accountability, I am pointed back to the Truth. Through a friend’s generosity, I learn about another aspect of how God is generous. I receive a unique glimpse about the character of God and my relationship with him through each friendship I have. Each friend teaches me something that my other friends cannot teach me in the same way.

And if that’s the purpose of friendships, then I want each of my friends to experience nothing less than the fullness of God that is displayed through the diversity of friendship . . . even if that means they need to have close friendships with people other than me.

We’re all on the same team, pressing on toward the same goal of intimacy with God and glorifying him. And when the jealousy occasionally rears its ugly green head now, it’s this motto that helps pull me through.

Have you ever struggled with friendships? How can this thought help you?

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5 comments

  1. I love what you say here, “And if that’s the purpose of friendships, then I want each of my friends to experience nothing less than the fullness of God that is displayed through the diversity of friendship . . . even if that means they need to have close friendships with people other than me.”
    For me, jealousy can only be combated by genuinely wanting the best for the other person. Will I love them in the way Christ loves me? Or will I love selfishly, only for what I can get out of the friendship? Greater love has no man than this, he lays his life down for his friends.

  2. Having three daughters, I’ve seen this strange dynamic a number of times. Well, not strange I guess, since it’s very common. With children there is no escaping this. They are discovering all the things you say here. What’s tragic is when you see the same dynamic in adults. And it happens a lot. It’s a sign they haven’t discovered what you have found.

  3. Tina,
    (How ironic. I just posted on friendships today.) Loved your post, and your reminder that we are all on the same team. I don’t know what I’d do without my friends. I’m so grateful for them.

  4. One of my friends describes this scenario as “friend cheater,” which she defines as when two friends from a group of friends spend time together outside the presence of the group. I’m wondering if this is a gender issue specific to women. The sentence Heather picked out above is sticking with me.

  5. spaghettipie

    H – Oh, I love that you bring up that Scripture. Self-sacrifice is an important aspect of friendship, but so often I realize that I’m “in it for me.”

    RLP – Sadly, this understanding has been hard won. I gave an example from elementary school because it was easy and safe. I could just as easily given you an example from 2008. I’m grateful that this Christian life is a journey and for how much freedom is found in learning lessons like these!

    G – I thought the same thing as well when I read your blog today (in fact your post is still up on my computer so I can comment). I don’t know what I’d do without my friends either, and so sometimes I hold too tightly. . .

    A – Perhaps it is something generally more difficult for women. Since we tend to find identity and value (and fulfillment!) in relationships, I can see where it would be a particularly vulnerable place as well. I love the description your friend has, because sometimes that’s how we feel, isn’t it? And that sentence is sticking with me too 🙂 Amazing how actually writing my thoughts down can solidify things for me.

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