Thursday, June 29, 2017

"Friend or Faux"

The gears in my head and the pistons in my heart have been gettin' a tune-up, whether I wanted it or not. It never ceases to amaze me how when I am concerned by traits and tendencies in others, if I am honest and transparent, I often find residue of those traits and tendencies tucked neatly away--even masquerading in a "perfectly justifiable" disguise--in the caverns of my own spaces.
The 21st century idea of what a friend is seems to have "de-volved" from the example heard and modeled in the life of Jesus.
"A friend loves at ALL times...", and "The wounds of a friend are faithful"....are two passages of scripture that describe what seem to be missing ingredients from today's culture of a "friendship recipe".
Personally, I had the greatest earthly examples of "friendship" lived out in my life by my dad and mom. Many times through the years, I've watched them give to people--people who had no clue of the depth of love and relationship they were being offered. This was overwhelmingly evident in the responses of these needy, yet unappreciative, dishonorable people. But the call to be a friend spoke louder to my parents than the pain of betrayal, or the feeling of wasted time that no doubt tugged at their hearts. They loved and gave without expectations or sense of entitlement. How rare THAT is in today's culture....yeah, even in the so-called "christian culture".
Two prevailing motives I've noticed sadly as the accepted "norm" for relationship building are these. 1. We oftentimes are willing to enter into "relationship" with people IF we see the potential of it somehow "massaging" our need to feel like we're being productive, purposeful, or achieving some "psuedo" sense of accomplishment. This motive is oftentimes accompanied by the desire to be noticed by the fact that we're doing a "good deed" for someone or we're doing our part to be a "good human". We love to be affirmed in this.
The second motive can be just as self-seeking.......2. We will also be willing and even eager to make a "relational connection" if the "relationship" will help us achieve or accomplish a goal or realize our "life purpose". I've termed this behavior as "relational opportunism". Living in "music city" has certainly opened my eyes to how rampant this mindset can be. It's sad to watch "friendships" be reduced to "connections" or stepping stones that people use to get where they're wanting to be. When you are no longer beneficial or meaningful to advancing one's objectives or goals, you seem to become expendable.
It's a slippery slope that can sabotage even the most well meaning people, if we fail to keep our hearts open and honest, and aware of the real purpose of relationship--To love, to live in community, to share, to give, to expect nothing in return.
Maybe this is why genuine relationship seems to be so rare any more. So many seem to have an angle, an underlying plot, where "relationships" are simply currency to buy our way into our selfishly conceived purposes.
I feel like I've been in the "hall of self interrogation", facing these possibilities, and it's painful to realize how these motives have reared their selfish heads at times in my own life.
Where is that place of purity, where we simply open our eyes to the people in our lives, connect on some common ground or "uniquely magnetic" difference, and are drawn into relationship simply to enjoy, share, give and experience life together?
I know it's not reasonable or even possible to expect to have meaningful, deep friendship with the masses, and I'm not suggesting that we do that--true friends are a rarity. But what I am saying here is that our motives for entering relationship --whatever level they may be-- need to grow from a place of purity, selflessness, and a desire to share life.
And on a closing note..."Commonality" seems to be a "stonger" foundation for building friendship than "personality", but oftentimes, we try to keep it on the superficial level of personality and never take the time or effort to work through surface differences or conflict in order to discover the potential commonality. So, when we tire of people and their personality, or we have a misunderstanding or disagreement, we cut them loose--many times prematurely--and throw them back. And we continue the search for "friends" by treating this beautiful process like we're simply fishing in a sort of "catch and release pond" for that one "friendship fish" that meets all our standards and satisfies our needs. Maybe we should be a little more deliberate in our quest for relationships as we allow our hearts to be exposed to the real motivation for building relationships in the first place?

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