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Posts Tagged ‘friends’

You sit down with and old friend you haven’t seen in years. As the two of you laugh, talk, and catch up on your lives, your friend says something you never expected them to. You learn something about them that changes your view of who they are, and you now perceive them differently. When the two of you part, memories of times with this friend flood your mind. Though now they feel different, based on this new information. You wonder if that’s a good thing or not.

Memories can be “tainted” by things you learn from friends. “Taint” in this case can be either good or bad.  For instance, you could come to get to know a friend better by learning something positive that’s happened to them recently that’s changed them. When you look back on the memories, the new knowledge gives you greater understanding of who they are in hindsight, and the great times become even better. You come to care for them more through your new understanding of the memories. Or, you can learn that someone isn’t who you thought they were, that they’ve done things you don’t agree with and you can’t come to reconcile that with who you previously perceived them to be. Thus, you search through the memories, now seeing the signs and wondering why you hadn’t seen this coming.

The thing is, there will always be times that we learn something about someone close to us that seems to taint the memories in a bad way. Every one of us has times in our lives we regret, and we’re scared to tell those we care about. Because we know that when we tell them, it’s going to change how they view us. But that doesn’t mean that the relationship will end.

We all have a choice in each of our relationships. We choose to continue pursuing a connection with that person or not. Often, this isn’t a conscious choice we make, but rather a choice made in the subconscious. However, when we learn something that drastically changes our perception of someone close to us, that choice is thrust into the conscious mind. We must decide whether or not to keep that relationship alive.

One thing we always have to keep in mind is that love is a choice. It’s more than a feeling. It’s a commitment to that person, regardless of whether they’re family, friend, boyfriend/girlfriend, fiance, or husband/wife. There will always be new things to learn about the people close to you, and they won’t always be good things. What keeps a relationship alive is continued commitment to one another by making the, sometimes very difficult, choice to continue to love them despite their flaws.

After all, they’ve made the choice to stick with us, right?

 

I know there is so much more that could be said on this topic, and that there are many different views and opinions out there. How do you see this choice working in your life?

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Fun and crazy expressions are always good for a laugh. As a reader, I’m very expressive, which can be entertaining for those in the room with me. But when it comes to personal struggles, I’m not very expressive at all. There are so many different expressions out there, and yet only a few make us worry. As a society that places a lot of value on outward appearance, we learn what faces to show to the world and which ones to keep hidden until we’re alone. We show these faces in many ways: through expressions, words, and body language.

But it’s often the expressions we never show, the words we never use, and the tiniest hints from our body language that show others what we’re truly feeling. And if we’re lucky, we’ll have those friends that we can show those faces. We’ll have friends who will pick up on the unspoken words and body language. We all want that kind of friend, because then we can share with them what we’re truly feeling. We don’t have to keep silent.

Yet there’s so much of the time we don’t know what’s really going on in a friend’s life until they decide to open up to us.

Recently I was chatting with a close friend via the Internet and I was told of some deep, internal struggles in my friend’s heart. I was slightly surprised, because while we’ve often had serious conversations, the bulk of our interaction involves banter and light-hearted conversation. But this friend and I also happen to be in the same group chat, and my friend’s happy and excited responses to the group contrasted drastically to our one-on-one conversation. Seeing both ends of the spectrum at the same time like that really hit me. It made me think of the many faces we each hold, and how we pull out the “correct” face for the situation.

How many of us hide what we’re truly feeling from the majority of the world–including those who care about us? Especially via the Internet, it’s so easy to hide what we’re truly feeling. It’s simple to type a happy sentence, even if we’re falling apart inside. I’ve done that, too. I still do.

Yet when we do express our true feelings and things we’re struggling with, we apologize for it, for being a burden. But our friends should never feel that they’re inconveniencing us by telling us these kinds of things. The only way for us to get through life is to help each other out. We must help carry each others’ burdens. If we confide in someone, then we must also be willing to let them confide in us.

 

We can hide what we’re going through, but only for so long. We must learn to be unapologetic in sharing with the people who want to know. In order to survive, we all need this.

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Flight is one of those technological feats that still amazes me. I don’t get to fly often, but when I do I love to look out the window and watch the world below shrink and change. The earth’s topography becomes apparent and the clouds are a new kind of sea. As you fly high above the earth and among the clouds, it can seem that you’re hardly moving although you’re travelling at much faster speeds than the toy cars below.

Relationships can be similar to a flight spent watching out the window. There will be times when it seems as though a relationship has stalled, isn’t moving forward, or deepening as quickly as we’d expect. It’s hard to remember sometimes, but deep relationships are not instantaneous. They’re built over time. Sometimes they deepen quicker than we realize, and other times we realize just how quickly they’re deepening. It depends solely on the two people in the relationship and your perception of it.

On a flight, looking out a window can reveal three degrees of thickness within the clouds–the thin, nearly-transparent layer that allows glimpses of the earth below; the smooth, semi-opaque, semi-transparent white; and the completely opaque, fluffy peaks of hand-whipped cream. We all have these three degrees of thickness within us, whether as clouds or walls or something else. The degrees will vary from person to person, as will how careful we are about which layers of ourselves we allow others to see.

The thin, nearly-transparent layer of clouds are the parts of who you are that you show right away. It’s usually not a lot, but it gives those you’re meeting for the first time or don’t know well that first taste of your personality. They’re hints of that true person deep inside you. Through these layers, glimpses of the roots of who you are can be seen, though never clearly. The roots of who we are permeate our lives, and others are able to catch glimpses of that, like glimpsing the earth through the clouds on a flight.

The smooth, semi-opaque, semi-transparent white clouds usually sit lower in the sky. When we start to trust someone, we allow them to see this layer of ourselves. At this point, we are starting to trust that new friend with who we are, beginning to open up to them. It’s just enough of a taste that we can make a better decision on who to pull closer and who to keep at an arm’s length. At this point, we learn who is accepting of who we are and who might be skeptical or likely to use those things against us.

The opaque, fluffy peaks are the highest and thickest walls we build. We use these walls to keep most people from glimpsing who we truly are, keeping them at bay because we don’t know for sure we can trust them. We all have layers upon layers of these walls, building up as the peaks of the fluffy clouds do. One cluster of these walls we use to hide our deepest secrets, keeping them tucked away. Only a very select, privileged few get to see beyond these walls, to the heart of our fears.

Yet like a flight, like watching those clouds drift slowly by, relationships take time to develop and deepen. We must continue through regardless of the pace it seems things are going, because things we can’t see are always happening under the surface. We must take the time to get to know another person. The patience and time spent will be rewarded when you finally see the true person behind the mask. But relationships are not always smooth. They will hit some turbulence. You must expect both that and a little trouble throughout the flight, although these should not be long-winded. If you endure, it is truly all worth it in the end.

 

Yes, the world may tilt out of shape, may become first closer and then farther away or even disappear altogether, but beneath the trouble and those layers of clouds is something truly beautiful to behold and explore.

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Part 2 of my Communications Series. You can find Part 1 here.

In my last post, I touched on the feeling of being the only one to reach out. Often, I feel I’m the only one reaching out to others, trying to make plans ahead of time. And because of this, I not only start to doubt my friends and whether or not they want to hang out with me, but I start to doubt myself.

As I’m thinking about hanging out with a specific friend or group of friends, I sometimes fall into the trap of thinking that I’m the only one that reaches out. In and of itself, this isn’t necessarily a trap. The trap is the thinking that follows this initial thought: the thoughts that you’re the only one being intentional, that you’re the only one who wants to plan to do things.

And more pessimism evolves from there. Personally, I start to wonder why my friends want to hang out with me. I start to wonder if I’m not enough of something for them to contact me. I start to feel I’m not as important to them as I thought.

I’ve recently had a bout with this line of thinking, and I didn’t combat it well. I let it get the best of me. But I’ve learned from it, too. I’ve learned that being the one to reach out and make the plans isn’t a bad thing. I’ve learned that people think differently, that different personalities and worldviews contribute to either reaching out or not.

And I’ve learned that this line of thinking should never deter me from reaching out to those friends and trying to make plans, even if the plans are just to meet up for a meal or coffee. That no matter how many thoughts like that creep into my mind, I needn’t let them get the best of me.

As people who desire relationships, we need to reach out to those around us, to those we care about. But we shouldn’t be dismayed and hurt if others don’t reach out to us as well. Perhaps reaching out is our way of being intentional, but not theirs. Perhaps theirs is being present in the moments you’re together, in the times you spend with one another.

We shouldn’t be afraid to express ourselves and our desire to spend time with another person in the ways we do and know best. Maybe that’s reaching out, maybe that’s spending time, and maybe it’s something different altogether. The best way to avoid any blame-games with close friends is to bring up the idea and discuss it.

Grow closer to one another by finding what each other see as being intentional, and learn how each other view the world. This helps avoid hurt and raises awareness between friends.

When I brought this up with a close friend, I learned that he doesn’t view the world the same way I do; that he sees sitting in class together, though we aren’t talking, as time together. And it is. But for me, it’s not intentional time together, not enough to continue building a relationship on. And I let the pessimistic thoughts get the best of me. I let them tell me I wasn’t good enough, that he wasn’t invested in our relationship, that I wasn’t important.

But those thoughts were very wrong, and he told me as much. With our differing worldviews and personalities, we saw different things, and he wasn’t aware that any inaction on his part was hurting me. After sitting down and discussing it, I’m going to try to remember that differing personalities doesn’t mean he doesn’t care. And he’s going to do his best to remember my views, as well.

But it doesn’t mean I should stop reaching out to make plans, with him or with others.

 

What do you think? Have you ever experienced anything similar to this? How do you view reaching out to others? What does “being intentional” mean to you? Don’t be afraid to discuss it with a friend, share below, or ask questions of me. 🙂

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