A “friend” misrepresented themself to me recently. That’s when they don’t lie to you outright, but they lead you to believe something that is not the truth. I didn’t realize it at first, but later when I did, there was a shift in our relationship. I examined it a bit and realized that they didn’t trust me with the truth. Examining the relationship showed me that while I had considered them a friend, they just considered me an acquaintance.
The relationship is not over by any means, and they will probably not notice a change. They also may never know how that particular situation made me feel. I haven’t felt the need to tell them. I don’t have a major problem with confrontation, but I also don’t believe it is necessary in every situation. Sometimes you need to confront, other times you need to learn. Sometimes ears are ready to hear, sometimes they are not. Sometimes there is something to be gained by confronting, other times there just isn’t.
Truth is, not everyone you know (or even spend a lot of time with) will be your friend. When I thought about it, maybe I should have noticed some things about our relationship before. The distance, in spite of the outer warmth. The lack of depth. The fact that we never seemed to get beyond the surface. Well, I think I shared my life….but it finally occurred to me they really haven’t shared their life with me. When I really looked at this person I realized they didn’t share themself with many people. That’s OK….some people travel with small circles.
Truth is essential to friendship. When I say truth, I don’t mean brutality. In fact, if they are honest and that honesty cuts you, and then they follow that with another blow, that’s another sign that it’s not a friend. Friends don’t leave scars or keep your wounds open ….instead they help you heal. But truth is….if they can’t be all of who they are around you, and you can’t be all of who you are around them, it just might not be a friendship.
I love the old saying that “a friend is salve to the soul”. Not to say that an acquaintance or even a stranger can’t be salve on occasion. But a friend’s soul healing is intentional and constant. You can count on them to be consistent.You can count on them to look below the surface. You can count in them to notice you and know you. Spending time with them makes you feel better about who you are, because they like and respect you and let you know it. They listen as you ramble, and offer suggestions as to how you can solve problems. They aren’t offended if you don’t take them. They will stand up for you….even for your right to be wrong. They don’t desert you when you’re down or dumb. But mostly they like you…even though they know all about those warts you try so hard to hide. A friend shares their life, their pain, their struggles, and you do the same with them. It’s not all about you, it’s not all about them. You do life together….and that requires the good, the bad, the beautiful, and the ugly.
I tend to be a bit loose when applying the word “friend” in conversation. Some that I may call friend are those people who teeter on the acquaintance line. It doesn’t matter….people in our lives really need no labels.
Still, it’s good to know who your true blue friends are. The ones who give and receive. Those who are there…whether or not they are in close proximity. These friends notice when I am off kilter. They recognize those times when my life feels especially hard. Most have been around for years, and constantly prove they are in my corner. Their eyes smile when they see me….they seek me out, and make me know I am valued. I don’t worry if I offend them, or impress them, or if something inappropriate comes out of my mouth. (It happens.) They are my people, and will defend me to the end. Unless I am wrong. Then they will tell me. With love.
I write about friendship a lot, because I like to think about it…and I believe many people don’t do it well. If done well it can enrich our lives immeasurably. I have realized over the years that many people aren’t intentional in growing relationships….and while I hate the idea of “programmed friendships”, I also think we shouldn’t take them for granted. I think they need to be nurtured. Good relationships take work. Sometimes we have to make a plan to do that work.
Everyone is not your friend. But maybe more people should be. You can have wonderful times with strangers and acquaintances, and I think life is better for it, but one thing I can tell you….a friend will bring salve to your soul. In this hard and cruel world, they can make you stronger and healthier and more joyful. But it’s not just on them to reach out to you. Reach out for them. Why not add a few….and why not invest in some friendships you may have been neglecting? And if you think you don’t have any friends, work on those friendship skills! Talk, listen, share, appreciate, make time. Find those who let you be you, with them….and do it. I dare you.