Sunday, April 01, 2012

Given Away

“That’s ours flower pot.  We gave it to them.” 
– some little boys I was taking on a walk around their block

Once you give a flower pot away, it is theirs.  Once you give friendship away, it is theirs.  The moment is irreversible.  The deed has been done. 

I used to be very selfish in my friendships.  I wanted people to listen to me, to entertain me, to help me not notice that I felt timid or overwhelmed.  Back then, whatever I put into a friendship was seen as a necessary cost of having friends in the future.  When I graduated high school, most of those friendships changed substantially.  In a lot of cases, we weren’t really friends anymore.  All that lost investment left me feeling disappointed, and lonely. 

Some few years after that I realized that God commanded Christians to be loving to others without considering whether we get anything out of it.  I had been afraid to get to know people, to give them attention and consideration, to pray for them or praise them – because what if this doesn’t last?  What if they move away and we never speak again?  What if they aren’t there for me when I’m having a hard time?  What if that man isn’t the man I spend the rest of my life with?  The answer was clear and daring: walk the line of pouring yourself into people without demands. 

Give love away, and it’s theirs.  The character of your friends is forever impacted by how you bless them.  And at the very least, you were there to help them to survive, or excel, even if that is someone else’s role in the future. 

Loss and betrayal are excruciating.  And even as good friendships continue, there are some disappointments.  People aren’t perfect.  They will neglect you or say something harsh when you need comfort.  They’ll tease you instead of teaching you.  These things happen.  They hurt.  Pain is increased, the more of yourself you’ve given to them.  You’re more vulnerable, the more they know you. 

The Bible says “perfect love casts out fear.”  The things to be feared are still real: pain, loss, being taken advantage of.  But love says people are worth the risk.  Maybe they won’t take advantage of you.  Maybe they won’t move on or away or die before you.  It is only a risk.  Yet you’re willing, if you love someone, to lay down your life living or dying.  You say that whatever you can do for them is worth more to you than protecting yourself.  Being with them for this moment in friendship is more important than the things you fear. 

I’m abundantly grateful God has given me friends who likewise keep on loving me.  By His grace, He has made Christian community, when healthy and striving to please Him, to be mutual.  My friends are merciful to me.  We love being together.  They do give back, encourage me, listen when I’m discouraged or self-absorbed.  I do have friends who point me to truth.  They invite me to invade their lives with my needs.  It’s amazing. 

To God be all glory.


Anonymous said...

Nice post! Sometimes it's hard to remember that friendships aren't about what we can get out of it, but how we can serve and love one another. In the same way, it's easy to see our relationship with God as "what can God give me?" rather than how can I better love and serve God to show Him my love?
Thanks for this post!

Lisa of Longbourn said...

Yes, good point! Although there is nothing we can give God that He did not first give us, there is nothing we have the right to hold back, and nothing we deserve to get from Him.

To God be all glory,
Lisa of Longbourn

Lisa of Longbourn said...

"Hearts were made to see. Perfect hearts are kept so sacred that no one can really see them."

Nicole said...

I love this post. Perhaps, my new favorite. It's a scary thing to give your heart and love away. I'm thankful for friends like you who take that risk. I agree..."It's amazing." Thank you.

Lisa of Longbourn said...

You're welcome, Nicole. I'm praying against fear today.

To God be all glory,