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?

Hello, Goodbye

I said goodbye again last week… maybe for the last time in some cases, though I pray that’s not the case. After being back in the States for four weeks, I made the long trip back home to Sligo. I had an amazing time with family and friends, and I was blessed in so many ways by my time there. Then the time came to come home, and as hard as it was to say goodbye to those I love so much, I am glad to be in Ireland again.

My homecoming was filled with many hellos from those I know, but it has also been full of new voices greeting me. The team I work with here welcomed a new staff member and 13 students that I now have the privilege of getting to know. I love the chance to get to know new people. After just a few days with this group, I know there will be some lifelong friendships that come from these next few months I get to spend with them.

I can’t help but think about all the groups before though, and wonder how many hellos and goodbyes my heart and mind can handle. As exciting as it is now to put in the hours of chatting and engaging with people, I know that for each new hello will come, at the very least, a see-you-later if not a goodbye.

Sometimes I wonder if it’s worth it to put in the time, to engage deeply with a new group of people that will inevitably leave or be left in the course of our journeys with Jesus… And then I think of all the past hellos, those friends I have made throughout my life, the ones I never see and rarely hear from, the ones scattered across the globe that I may or may not see again during my time on this planet. Each of those people has impacted my life, and I would not be me without their influence. I like to think I’ve also made a difference in their lives as well.

Goodbyes aren’t fun, but the hellos are always worth it. We weren’t designed to do life alone, and every person we meet has the potential to change our life. Engaging with people, making the effort to really know them is always a good idea.

I am so grateful for every person I have had the opportunity to know and influence and learn from over the years, every student I’ve taken on an outreach or had as a one-on-one. I am excited to see what God does in this new group, and I am honored that I have the opportunity to be a part of their lives for this season. So, HELLO Sligo 2015 trainees, and welcome…Let’s do this!