Relationships take work, and they’ll slowly die off…if we don’t tend to them and water them with regular time, conversations, and interest.
~Lisa-Jo Baker, Never Unfriended
Yes, it’s obvious that relationships take work. My struggle is with not wanting to feel that the burden is solely on me to do the work if I want to keep them (and perhaps this is a lie from the enemy that I choose to believe at times). Relationships take two people and if I am the only one making a concerted effort, is it really a relationship? But then what does it mean to make an effort? Yes, reaching out takes time and intention. But so does responding affirmatively to an invitation. If I ask and the other person chooses to do what is needed to be able to respond or make a meet up happen, then we should both be credited for having put forth effort. Sometimes I err in thinking that being the initiator equals doing all of the work.
There are seasons in life where one person has more resources available to put toward the relationship – more time and energy – but, after a while, those resources can become depleted and make the person feel apathetic because the apparent returns have greatly diminished (though if we’re focusing on what we can get out of the relationship, our head is probably not in the proper place).
When I am feeling depleted I am tempted to give up, to stop making an effort and let the relationship die. I hate when that happens because, obviously, I once deeply cared about the relationship and still like the person. Perhaps it’s just time for me to rest and let the relationship idle for a bit until more attention can be given to it. I probably ought to pray about the situation – ask God if the season of this relationship has passed and it’s okay to let go and move forward, if he has more purpose for the relationship and it’s just a temporary break or if I need to continue to persevere in reaching out. I’m still trying to navigate this area.
Guilt-free friendship says that anytime you get back to me is a good time. Guilt-free friendship says that I will always assume the best about your motivations. Guilt-free friendship says that I won’t keep score when it comes to e-mails answered or phone calls returned. Guilt-free friendship focuses on the friendship and ditches the guilt. Guilt-free friendship loves any chance and any slice of time to catch up; it isn’t about criticizing how much or how frequently that happens. Instead, guilt-free friendship is generous and forgiving and creates easy space for reconnecting because it doesn’t have any conditions for how or when or often that happens.
~Lisa-Jo Baker, Never Unfriended
I would love to have a heart that always leans toward guilt-free friendships. I want to be able to enjoy friendships wherever and whenever the opportunity to connect arises. In some of my friendships I have achieved a mindset where I do not feel neglected for not having regular contact and am thoroughly able to enjoy those times we do get together and reconnect. In others, I still want more effort or intentionality from them. I don’t know why I have different desires for seemingly similar-dynamic friendships. I suppose that’s just more work that needs to be done in me.
What about you? Do you ever struggle with intentionality or reciprocity in relationships? How do you navigate the ebbs and flows of friendships?
This is the third post of a series exploring some of the ideas in Never Unfriended: The Secret to Finding and Keeping Lasting Friendships by Lisa-Jo Baker. If you’re interested in reading the other posts, please click on a title: The Fear of Missing Out, Finding Our Approval, Celebrating, Mourning and Other Aspects of Friendship, The Comparison Trap and Working Through Negative Feelings.