Recently, over the past year, I’ve been periodically considering my friendship patterns. Now again, I am considering them, because my sister asked me last week if I considered them important at all.
I’ve considered the friendship patterns my parents have modeled for me. I’ve realized I had inadvertently fallen into the same patterns: aspects of which are good and aspects of which are bad. For one, my parents befriended anyone who wished to spend time with them. Sometimes they would patiently sit and listen for hours as a lonely soul unloaded a week’s worth of conversation onto them. It taught me the infinite value of everyone who casts a shadow on your doorstep, which was good. It also modeled for me to follow a friendship wherever whim should happen to lead, which was bad.
I’ve had two consistent and loyal friends for the past 5-6 years, who I speak with at least once a week. Both are retirement age, one male and married, one female and divorced. All other friendships have been mostly initiated by the other party. In junior high there was the group that would allow me to eat lunch with them. But by college I began to discover my own directing power, simply because there were more possibilities. At first it was difficult. I couldn’t even hang up on a telemarketer. I couldn’t even walk away from a stranger who was being inappropriate. The past few years, I’ve pendulumed back into a more passive role for the purpose of discovering the other. Currently, I sense a yearning for a more dynamic tension.
One factor that assists that dynamic tension is the spirit of the Creator who made us both. I have begun to consistently pray for and dedicate my friends to God. Sometimes it’s difficult because anxiety crops up, possibilities based on memories strike fear into my heart. Yet there is nothing like prayer that redirects anxiety of possibility and motives of selfish control. Anyone I spend leisure time with, I pray for God’s movement in their life and if God so wills, our relationship in purpose and ethos. I’ve also recently, begun to ask God for guidance in stance toward those who are in my life. For instance, just last week I visited with my one friend who has had considerable health issues as of recently. It has affected the frequency at which we converse. For him, I’ve perceived my silence is now more valuable than my words. We used to have animated discussions and told each other unusual and dramaticized stories. At first our time was filled with a lot of silence, later I fell into old habit and chattered away. In reflection, I wish I would have listened and been more silent for I was in the presence of someone with 70+ years of lived wisdom.