The biggest relationship lessons I have learned have revolved around two major themes: disappointment and hurt when I feel like a friend isn’t as invested in the relationship as I am or when I’m feeling isolated and unable to connect with others. This is what I wish I had learned three decades ago:
You can’t force a friendship to be something it isn’t meant to be.
As an elementary aged girl, I spent so much time trying to make one particular girl want to be my friend. She wasn’t really interested. It’s easy to see the efforts of that 8 year old girl as a waste of energy when I look at it from this side. It’s harder to recognize that grown adults can make the same misguided choices. It doesn’t seem as obvious when you’re 39. Here’s a clue: If you’re spending a lot of time feeling like you’re investing more in a friendship than the other person, it might be that you need to be honest with yourself and allow this relationship to naturally settle into a different category.
The hardest part of this is owning that our hurts, when it comes to friendships, often come from our own unmet expectations and not necessarily due to anything the other person did wrong. Yes, it absolutely still hurts to realize you are in a different place than someone else, but the quickest way to completely kill a friendship is to guilt someone into being the person you want them to be.
The life stage you are in, for better or worse, is going to dictate how your friendships look.
I’m a homeschool mom.
You are a mom of babies that need naps or your entire day is a disaster.
You are going to school while raising a family.
You are working full-time or part-time and your time off is opposite of so many people you would love to spend time with.
Your kids are in sports that takes up much of your free time.
Doesn’t it stink to not be able to do it all? Doesn’t it sting a little when you see people doing things that you would love to do, but you can’t? It does. May I encourage you by telling you that you are not alone? I wish I could wave a magic wand to ensure that all the things that you want to do would instantly fit into your schedule perfectly, but I can do one thing that might help. May I encourage you to look around, right where you are and ask God to show you how to develop friendships that don’t compromise your other commitments?
I promise it’s possible. You own your calendar and your life! Find or clear some space on your calendar and call/text/email someone to get together. Spend less energy feeling bad about what you are missing out on and more energy on making the most of what you have.
Can you relate to this? I would love to hear what your biggest friendship lessons have been.
Thanks for popping in to read my musings. Tuesdays are going to be a time where I process some of the things I’ve been learning. If this is your kind of thing, don’t forget to check in again or subscribe and you’ll get notifications of posts via email.
Lisa-Jo Baker has a fabulous book on friendship you might like. Check it out here.