A couple of years ago, I read Katharine’s series on friendship. This blog series triggered some major self-reflection and prayer. It arrived at a time when I was struggling with too many commitments to too many people, and was finding myself utterly drained, and struggling with guilt that I could not be everything to everyone.
I have always surrounded myself with a lot of people, wherever I go. As an extrovert, I tend to befriend nearly everyone I meet. I have since found that I also have a strong introverted side, so I crave time alone. I need balance to maintain my sanity, but I had no center of gravity.
To be honest, I could see that I had an inordinate desire to be loved and liked by everyone, to be worthy of being called a friend by everyone. Essentially, I wanted to be popular. So, I over-extended in every direction. I allowed myself to be pushed and pulled from all sides. It didn’t matter how good my intentions were–I was beginning to drown.
Something had to change.
I had to stop, examine myself, and explore a better way for me to balance friendships with a limited amount of time. I found that what matters is choosing carefully where to spend my non-refundable time.
So, I questioned and re-ordered my priorities. I didn’t want to cut anyone off completely, just to make sure that the right people topped my list. It was a painful process.
I wasn’t really sure what to do, or how to do it. Katharine’s series supplied the springboard I needed to dive into the Word of God, learn from Jesus, and change. If anyone had innumerable demands on his time from innumerable directions, it was the Son of God. How did he order his friendships? Who did he give the bulk of his time to?
His timing was perfect in drawing me to Katharine’s corner of the Internet.
When I came to the conclusion of the series, I was struck by the outline of how Jesus’ friendships were structured. I really began to apply what I had read to my life, and this is what I learned.
Jesus, while on this earth, befriended thousands…
Jesus had a wide circle of acquaintance, numbering in the thousands. Mine is more in the hundreds, but I definitely have a wide circle. When you really think about it, we are all connected to more people than we realize, and that is a good thing.
120 who believed in Him, followed Him (Acts 1:15):
I have four children who love me and follow my every move everyday, all day. They believe in me and trust me. My doula clients and childbirth education students also have a level of trust they put in me. They hire me to influence them, so they put a lot of stock in what I have to say. In this sphere, I make a difference–for good or ill, remains to be seen.
72 who did ministry for Him (Luke 10:1 & 17):
I have many friends who are willing to minister with me, or to me. This is the wide circle of people I would run errands for, help with their children, and who would gladly return the favor, but we don’t necessarily spend a lot of time together.
At the time, this was where I felt the biggest stretch. I had a hard time saying “No.” If I didn’t have something in my calendar, I didn’t feel justified in turning anyone down, even if I was in desperate need of a quiet day of down-time. I have since learned that it’s okay to say “No,” even if I don’t have a “real” reason. It’s still hard for me, but I have found that people usually understand.
12 whom He discipled, whom He called “friends” (Mark 3:14):
Jesus had twelve disciples, to whom he actually applied the term “friends.” They were always together, sharing life. Sometimes fighting and bickering, but always together in the end (except for Judas).
In the past, I was trying to stuff everyone I met into this category. After a couple of years of practicing the art of saying “No,” I think I finally understand what this level of friendship entails, and I have made changes accordingly. If I named names, I would probably have about fifteen or so in this group, and these are the ones that are worth saying “Yes” to.
3 whom He granted more insight and understanding (Mark 5:37, 9:2, 14:33):
Jesus had three people–Peter, James, and John–with whom he shared things that he did not even share with the others he called friends. He spent more time with them, and asked more of them than anyone else.
I probably have five of these. I call these my “iron-sharpens-iron” friends. They are the ones who love me enough to call me out, or encourage me in ways no one else can.
In the past, I felt guilty if I spent more time with one or two than any other in my close circle. Now, I don’t worry about it so much, because I never see Jesus expressing guilt for singling out his three closest confidants.
The one whom He loved, who leaned upon Him at meals, to whom He entrusted His last revelation (John 13:33, 21:7, 20, Revelation 1:1-2):
Jesus had his close three friends, but out of those three, he had brotherly intimacy with only one. Just one person to whom he opened up completely. Besides my husband, I have two people I would consider myself to be this close to.
They are my “besties,” and I no longer feel guilty for keeping this circle closed.
Probably, the most important thing I have learned is this:
Even the perfect Son of God couldn’t please everyone, or even all of his closest friends. Who am I to think that I, in my fallen state, can be anyone’s Everything? So, rather than be a friend to none, I choose to follow George Washington’s advice:
“Be courteous to all, but intimate with few, and let those few be well tried before you give them your confidence.”
What have you learned about friendships in this life?
Grace & Peace,
Tiffany blogs at The Faery Inn, where she shares her Fellow Inn-mates’ lives with anyone who cares to escape into amazing escapades. She is the happy wife of one super-understanding man, a home-schooling mother of four, a childbirth doula, and a childbirth instructor, in a breath-taking land of delirious mountains and devastating losses. I’ve reblogged her heartfelt posts from time to time and often wished to make it official. The happy event of my 30,000th visitor, (which she just happened to be) gave me the excuse I needed to invite her on over. Tiffany also is my most frequent commenter for 2013, which I also intended to celebrate, so here she is! A beacon in her honesty and constant in her loyalty, she has agreed to grace our day with the above, beautiful work. Go visit her and thank her for this lovely piece!