Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Friendship - Luxury or Necessity

“I expect most people to want me for some specific task or assist, but are not really interested in me.”

Have you ever felt that way? I have for about 40 years but I want to stop thinking that way.

We are in the process of relocating about four hours away. This is the fourth time we’ve made this type of move in ten years. I enjoy change and this change has helped me see why I enjoy moving like this.

I don’t make luxury friends well but I can develop necessity friends fairly easy. Do you know the difference in those friendships? There can be a very fine line when the necessity friend has the full potential of being a luxury friend.

One very special luxury friend lives in Columbus Georgia. She has taught me a lot about friendship. She initiated our friendship with a wave from her driveway when we first looked at the house. She followed up with banana bread the morning after we moved in. She called, introducing herself as “your neighbor” inviting me to do daily stuff like trips to K-Mart and I went. She never assumed or intruded. Always offered her friendship openly without smothering. I want to be like that but something holds me back. What is it?

I have another luxury friend who lives in Ohio. Our friendship began more as a necessity friendship with “reasons” for the friendship. Our friendship grew during her role as director of the day care at our church. Because of our background – same high school, church, college - I had a sense of comradery with her. I volunteered at the day care for administrative and kitchen tasks.

The thing I enjoy about moving are the farewell visits with necessity friends that allow me to enter into luxury friendships for a brief time. With this move, I’m seeing that I’ve missed out on the opportunity for some potentially very special luxury friendships. How did I miss out? Attitude mostly.

It is the “they aren’t interested in me” attitude in my life that keeps me from offering my friendship. For me, the phrase was more like “She is too busy. I don’t want to be a bother. She’d think I was a pest to call for no reason. I’ll contact her when I have a specific reason to do so.” Sounds like humility but it is really pride – fear of rejection that will hurt my pride. I now recognize this scheme of Satan has not only affected me but our entire culture.

I strongly believe that scripture instructs us to be united. When the believers who are living by the Spirit unite, the world will see the Body of Christ in the flesh. God has created us to be in relationship – intimate, luxury relationship with each other. He has placed in me the essence of who I am. That is a gift from God. When I offer to reveal that with others, I benefit from what he has placed in me and what he has placed in the other person.

I spend far too much time on “necessity” relationships and far too little time on “luxury” relationships. It is the luxury relationships that are the true necessity. Necessity relationship may unite us in tasks but luxury relationships lead us to unity in our faith.

The abundant life Jesus offers is the best luxury of all. We don’t deserve it. We can’t earn it. And it is not a necessity for existence. But it makes life worth living.

This move will be different for me. No more waiting on a task oriented reason to make a friend. I’m going to offer someone the luxury of my friendship. Oh yeah, I might suffer rejection. Christ initiated a luxury relationship with us and was willing to experience rejection to a greater degree than I will ever experience.

To confide in someone, with who you really are, is risky. But there is no better gift than true friendship.

I no longer call you servants, because a master doesn't confide in his servants. Now you are my friends, since I have told you everything the Father told me.

John 15:15

To my luxury friends in Lexington – you know who you are. You have shared who you really are with me and encouraged me to be all that God has designed me to be. I will miss the look in your eyes when you have risked revealing yourself. It has been a blessing to accept the luxury of your friendship. It is a precious treasure. I will hold on to it as a delicate and fragile keepsake.

Friends are friends forever when the Lord’s the Lord of them. (Old song, great truth.)

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