The Burden of Friendship?

I am a social person. More often than not, I want to be around friends. I want to go for coffee or lunch or a walk and chat with people. I want to hear about their lives and tell them about mine or just talk about the weather (a favorite topic in Ireland). If I can’t be with people, I like chatting on Facebook or via text message or on the phone.

Some of my closest friends, I contact without a second thought. I know if they can’t chat when they receive the message, they’ll leave it until they have time to respond. I have no doubt that if they don’t have time to get together in the next few weeks, they’ll let me know and not feel pressured to fit me into their busy schedule. I know we’ll hang out when life gets less crazy.  

I have recently begun to realize (with the help of a good friend), though, that with many of my friends, I second guess myself when initiating communication. I assume people are busy and I will be interrupting them if I send a message on Facebook – maybe even more so if I send a text message. I’m afraid if I invite them to coffee or lunch, they’ll feel pressured to squeeze me into an already packed schedule and it will be an imposition for them.

In short, I find it easy to assume that I will be a burden to others simply by initiating a conversation. I am realizing that this is a subtle and effective tool of the Enemy to isolate me and others.

Recently, I timidly mentioned to a friend at church that when her life slows down a bit, we should try to go for ice cream or something. Her response surprised me. She said, “You call or text me. I actually have a lot of time free right now, and just hadn’t called because I thought you were busy.” Each of us was waiting for the other to get in touch because we feared interrupting the busyness of her life.

How many times have I sat at home feeling alone and unloved simply because I was afraid I would be a burden? Why do I assume I am an inconvenience? Why do I believe those lies so easily and so often? Am I the only one who falls for this?

I’m learning to initiate communication and invitations. I’m beginning to trust that if people don’t have time to hang out, they will simply be honest and tell me. I am determined that I will no longer allow myself to stay quiet for fear that I will be a burden. When someone comes to mind, it may be that God knows they need a friend to listen just then. If I stay quiet for fear of burdening someone, I may be keeping both of us from the blessing of friendship in a time when it’s most needed.

No more.

From now on, I want to reach out instead of waiting for others to reach out to me. Completely one-sided relationships are no fun, and they are not healthy. However, sometimes we have to reach out beyond our comfort zone and make the first effort.

Is there anyone you need to contact today?

The Pain of Being Still

I’ve had a difficult time writing today. Not because I have nothing to say. (I’m pretty sure that is a rare occurrence for me!) The problem has been my inability to be still.

 I have done something to my back, and for the last couple of days, sitting still has been nearly impossible. As long as I’m up and moving around, the pain radiating from my lower back into my legs is manageable. When I have tried to sit or lie down for any length of time, the discomfort has grown to the point that I physically cannot stay still.

Thankfully, the pain is easing slightly this afternoon, and I am able to sit down and put some words on the screen.

As I thought today about what I might write when I was able, I began to think of other times in my life when I have experienced a different kind of discomfort in being still. There have been so many times when I occupied my mind with anything and everything I could find or kept myself busy in any way I could think up to avoid being still with my thoughts.

 Have you ever been afraid to be alone with your thoughts? Have you experienced the discomfort of being still?

Typically when I experience that discomfort, it is because there is some thought or feeling I need to face. I keep my mind busy with television or music or Facebook or sometimes more productive tasks – anything I can find to avoid facing the issues I don’t want to deal with. I find it interesting (and often annoying) that God rarely lets me get away with avoiding the issues for very long. I’ve lost count of the TV shows which He has used to speak to me about the very things I’ve immersed myself in the show to avoid!

The thing is, I know that the sooner I allow God to bring things to light and speak His truth in the midst of the pain, the sooner I can be free to run with Him again. The world tells us that staying busy is the way to be productive, but I have found that in these times when I’m staying busy for the sake of busyness, the most productive thing I can do is to be still and let Him remind me that He is God in my circumstances.

And now, friends, as I get up and pace my flat and do some stretches to find relief, I invite you to be still and see if there is discomfort or pain for which you need some relief. If you find yourself unable to be still, I encourage to ask God for His help to face the cause and let Him bring healing and peace.