So I just told one of my daycare kids “if you aren’t nice to people, they won’t want to be your friend”. Then I realized that I was in fact telling a lie … because it doesn’t matter how nice you are, if someone is really your friend they won’t care if you are sometimes not so nice. In fact, we live in a world where being nice usually results in being the friend that everyone calls or, conversely, the forgotten friend. In other words, being nice does not always result in the outcome that one would hope for.
I know because I’ve always been the “nice” friend. But lately, I’ve been noticing that so many of my ‘friends’ aren’t actually friends. Some of them are just people who for one reason or another cross over in some way into my world. You know the types of friends I mean. The ones on social media, in my contact list on my phone, or even, sometimes, the ones I might hear from through the occasional text message.
Honestly, when I think about these acquaintances, there were times when I felt like an outsider. Maybe that is not an accurate response but nevertheless, that’s how I felt. The one person that I used to confide in (and at one point in my life talked to about everything), I miss her the most. We still talk but it’s not the same. And when I see her liking and commenting on everyone’s Facebook posts but never on mine, it hurts. Another friend that I’ve known for over thirteen years, decided that since I couldn’t give them what they wanted, I was no longer important to them. So, at the end of the day, they changed the terms of our friendship. When I wasn’t okay with the change, they just walked away. Looking back, that one broke my heart.
Then there are the posts from people I used to be friends with….in high school…in Jr high….in elementary school. They talk about their best friends, the ones that I hung out with too. I remember even then being the nice friend, but similarly, the invisible friend. The one that people counted on when they had needs but when the needs went away, so did they.
As I get older, I realize that maybe I had a different view of what I expected from friends than other people. I expect friends to be there whether I need them or not, to remember the silly moments, to be there when I need to cry and not only to contact me when they want something. But maybe everyone feels this way???
Perhaps, at this stage of my life I need to find more friends….lol! Perhaps, I’ve known this for years, but it’s not that easy. Over the years, I’ve become jaded. I trust too easily. I’m too open about sharing who I am. I let people take up space in my heart. People who know me say I care too deeply and as a consequence, I’ve had too many people take advantage of me.
Now, in many ways, I’m scared to let anyone into my world. And I know that when I stay within my circle and don’t venture very far, my bubble is secure.
All this to say that even on the days I miss my host of friends the most, on the days where I feel lonely, I remember that I’ve got something many of them don’t have. I have a personal relationship with Jesus. I know the King of kings and Lord of lords. I have a friend that stays with me and is closer than a brother. And I know that my friendship with Jesus will never fail.
My eternal relationship with Jesus — the One and Only who evolves with me, and carries me through the ups and downs, He doesn’t want anything from me but my heart. And looking at what Jesus did, I know that He gave up everything for ME. The Good Shepherd who laid down His life for me.
He is the ultimate friendship.
I guess when it comes right down to it, and yes, after considerable reflection, being the nice friend isn’t a bad thing, because I know that it is the Lord in me that gives me the strength to be nice. Hopefully, His light shining through me is sufficient for even my casual, once in a while friends to notice, and understand that there is something beyond life that loves us too.
“And above all things have fervent charity among yourselves: for charity shall cover the multitude of sins. Use hospitality one to another without grudging. As every man hath received the gift, even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.” (1 Peter 4:8-10)