By: Staci Stallings
So we’ve been talking about relationships and specifically Christian relationships of all types and styles–marriages, friendships, parent-child. And we’ve said that Christian relationships are designed at their core to be based on the phrase “one another” or reciprocity.
But what does that mean in the real world, and how do you find or build these types of relationships?
First of all, if you are looking to build dynamic, reciprocity-based relationships, please understand that we are not talking about ONE friend. True, one friend is a good place to start, but do not think in terms of a best friend that excludes everyone else. A truly dynamic relationship is one that brings others in, ever-expanding the circle, and blessing the world.
I well remember when one of my best-dynamic friends and I met another lady who “entered our friendship circle.” For the longest time Lady A skated and skirted around us because we had been friends for a long time. When I would get together with her, she would wonder what my other friend thought. When she got together with the other friend, she wondered what I thought.
To be in a dynamic, Christian relationship, you’re going to have to LET. THAT. THINKING. GO!
Jesus didn’t reject John because He was already friends with Peter and Andrew. He was friends, in a different, special way with each of them. It was not a competition!
I know. That’s a hard concept to grasp. And when you begin employing this within your friendship circles, those who are still world-based friendships will resist… Oh, will they resist! They will try to pull things like spreading “gossip” that they “heard” about the other person. They might tell you something they “heard” the other person said about you. You will know these people by their constant attempts to discredit and exclude your other friends.
Don’t let them.
If they cannot be friends with your friends, then let that person go, or be their friend without sacrificing your other friends in the process. In a very real way, this teaches them to grow up–learning to “share.”
Harsh, maybe. But if they are not ready to be in a dynamic friendship, then you’re not going to convince them that it’s possible by giving up everyone else just to be their friend.
I love my oldest daughter’s reaction to just this scenario. A new girl moved into the school, and Stef being Stef opened her arms to this girl. They quickly became friends, and then the “talking” started. Since Stef had been friends with others in her class for many years, the new girl sensed that she needed to put a wedge in there if she was to have Stef’s “best friend status” all to herself.
So she started… “So-and-so said they don’t like your hair.” To which Stef said, “So?” ”So, they told everybody they don’t like your hair.” To which Stef said, “So? They don’t have to like my hair. They have a right to their opinion.” ”But doesn’t that make you mad?” Stef shrugged. “Not really. They either like me or they don’t. That’s their decision, not mine.”
Amazingly all three of my kids have mastered the ability to be friends with whomever happens to be around.
I told my husband the other day that it’s interesting to go to events with other parents and students at my son’s school. Invariably, someone is going to say, “He is so wonderful. My son/daughter just thinks the world of him.” And it’s crazy the number of different places he gets asked to go with different kids… often kids that do NOT like each other!
In fact, I think building dynamic relationships starts with your understanding about your relationship with God. If you are solid there, the ups and downs of friendship don’t throw you into panic and desperation. You can be a friend and not be in a death-competition for your friends’ attention.
Interestingly, Lady A eventually told me how worried she had been at first. ”I just couldn’t believe the two of you could and would just let me in like that. I mean, you were such good friends, and yet adding me didn’t seem to change that at all. You just embraced me like it was easy.”
(Well, it WAS!)
At any one time, I might have eight or more best friends, and the cool thing is, my best friends have all accepted each other and are cool with knowing they are special to me, and I will be their friend–good times, bad times, all the time–even if they don’t have a lock on the “only best friend in Staci’s world” spot.
So first of all, open your heart. Get solid with God. And realize that dynamic relationships is not about them being an exclusive thing.
Then, get ready to learn to build the most dynamic, fascinating relationships of your life.