Monday, February 28, 2011

This is not a how-to on friendship

In college, I never would've considered myself  a solitary person.  I had a core groups of friends, and we spent a lot of time together.  Most of our interactions were unspoken, regular occurrences.  Some of them were planned outings (though they were rarely planned by me--if ever).

That, of course, changed in my mid-to-late twenties (and into my 30s).  I don't dislike people, really, but I rarely invite people to hang out and would spend much of my time alone if others did not extend invitations.  In fact, Chris makes fun of me because I'm always resistant to the idea of vacation.  I guess I'm just too used to certain routines.

I don't like talking on the phone, and in person, won't talk if I don't have something to say.  I rarely make small talk, and the act in itself makes me uncomfortable.  Of course, these actions are often interpreted as rude even when I'm not trying to be hateful.

It should go without saying that these things have cost me friendships.  Mostly, I think that's sad, but it's not behavior I withhold for some and inflict on others. 

Of course, some things aren't a matter of personality.

In the past, I was a little over-willing to share my personal feelings.  I thought that honesty was the best policy so OF COURSE you shared what you were going through with your friends.  I have realized, however, that it's not a policy that is iron-clad.  Sometimes I don't share because I don't trust people.  Sometimes it's because it's a need-to-know sort of thing and other times it's simply because my feelings have been treated flippantly in the past.  Nothing hurts worse than to be dealing with a situation that may never go away and to have a "friend" tell you that you need to build a bridge, get over it and concern yourself with her problem which is obviously a much bigger deal.  That's not to say that her problem wasn't a much bigger deal in her mind, but that particular sentiment really hurt me.  Essentially, what had happened to me wasn't traumatic.  It was just a fact of life that could be pushed aside.

So if you've read this far, you're probably wondering why I'm bothering to share any of this information.  Well, I'm glad you asked.  It's to let you know that I don't abandon people.  Generally, my level of interaction doesn't change even if another person's does, but, as stated above, hospitality has never been my strongest suit.  I make my best effort to listen to my friends, even when I don't have a response.  And, if the conversation did not begin with my problems, it's rarely going to end on that note if we've been talking about something you're going through.

I believe in prayer.  I always follow through with it when it's requested, and sometimes when it isn't.  I even believe in encouragement when I have something genuine to say.

But I won't belittle you with worthless small talk just so we can feel like we met our friendship quota for the day.  And if you feel like that makes me a bad friend, I guess that's where life leaves us.

PS.  If you want to participate in Prayer Monday, click here.