Do you ever feel that way about a major change in a friend’s life? You are excited about the opportunity or adventure before them, but it involves a move or transition that just might bring distance to the relationship.
One of my best friends, Lance Bane, is fixin to (that’s what we say here in Texas y’all. It means “about to”) move to New England to pastor a church. I am excited about the adventure ahead of him and his family. But, I don’t like that we won’t hang out together as much.
Lance and I have known each other for about 10 years, but the relationship became very close about four years ago. We were in a small group together at a pastor’s prayer retreat. Shortly after that retreat we began meeting together monthly for prayer. Our respective churches shared the same day to pray for our city.
God knit our hearts together quickly as we prayed each month for our city, churches, and families.
Our trust in each other grew and over time we shared dreams and fears, failures and successes.
I am excited, but…
I am excited about this new opportunity for Lance. I think it is what God has planned for him and his family. I strongly want to see him succeed.
However, in this moment my heart hurts. I guess it is a good thing, but all I know is that it hurts.
Sure, we can talk on the phone or video chat, and I know we will. But, it is not the same as sitting face to face, giving a man-hug, feeling each other’s emotion. That is what I am grieving.
Those emotions—sadness, grief (I still am not good at identifying my emotions) are part of what in the past made it difficult for me to allow people to be close to me. I don’t like emotional pain.
Learning how to be a friend to have a friend
So, God has had to teach me how to be a friend. When I was a teenager and young adult, I was too insecure to allow my “friends” to really know me. The result was that I never developed deep, trusting friendships.
About 10 years ago, I knew this had to change. I needed people who knew me, and in spite of my failures and weaknesses, remained my friend.
I remember the first time that someone made it clear to me that they liked me, even loved me, as a dear friend even though they knew some of my most glaring mistakes.
It blew me away.
I began asking God to teach me how to be a friend. I asked to trust others enough to allow them to know me—the real me. This was a big step of faith.
As a result, God blessed me with some incredible friendships over the past several years. I am thankful and a better person because of it.
Here are a few things God has taught me about being a true friend:
This was the hardest for me to learn. Because of insecurity and lack of trust, I didn’t allow others to know me. I do think that there is a place for discernment. Not everyone can handle our stuff. Also, being a friend doesn’t mean that I dump all my junk on someone right off the bat.
What I mean by authentic is being real, not fake. I don’t try to impress or depress anyone. I am who I am. Cool thing is that God uses close friends to shape me. They can’t do that if they don’t know the real me.
A friend is one that can be trusted with dreams, ambitions, fears, failures, family, money—the list goes on.
And don’t “share it” all over the place. In this day of social media, the last thing a friend of mine needs to hear is something they told me in confidence showing up in a status update. Instead of tweeting about it, pray about it.
I think this boils down to selflessness versus selfishness. What better teacher than Christ for that. As a friend, am I willing to support and give of myself even when it is uncomfortable or even painful?
Learn how to stay close even at a distance…
God has given me a few opportunities to learn this over the past few years. Now with Lance moving to New England, I can apply it.
As I wrote this blog, my eyes teared up often, my chest tightened, and I nearly deleted the article. But as I finish, I feel excited and hopeful about what is ahead. I am excited for Lance and what God has in store for him and his family. I am also hopeful that our friendship enters into a new and deeper phase.