Choosing Friends Wisely
By: Lindsay Tedder
"Walk with the wise and become wise, for a companion of fools suffers harm." Proverbs 13:20
“You expect too much from your friends and it’s unrealistic” the words flashed across my cell phone screen, my heart quickly sinking.
This single sentence would make me question my every move and every motive going forward. Will this put too much pressure on her? Or, Does this set up an unrealistic exception for her? My brain was full of questions when interacting with every one of my friends, not just the one who expressed her discontent with my expectations. When the person you have been the closest to for the longest length of time rejects you and tells you that you expect too much from people, you listen.
Was I really expecting too much from her?
I went through the full circle of emotions with this single sentence. Fear that it was true; guilt that I could have done that to anyone; shame that I could possibly make someone feel that way; doubt that it was true; denial that there was any validity to those words. It took me YEARS to process these words. After questioning my every interaction with my friends, I became a super friend. I became the doer, the checker, the planner, the helper, the fixer. I was the glue of every friendship I had, and I was determined not to put expectations on anyone. I was determined to be the very best friend that I could be. I was determined to prove this sentence wrong.
And yet, the only thing that I gained from my overachieving friendship skills was busyness and loneliness.
I was the doer, so no one needed to do anything for me.
I was the checker, so no one needed to check on me.
I was the planner, so no one planned anything for me.
I was the helper, so no one was there to help me.
I was the fixer, so no one needed to fix anything for me.
It was exhausting and when I stopped checking on my friends, I found I stopped hearing from some of them. Upon this realization, I let some relationships grow distant. I began to focus on the people who didn’t make me feel like my expectations were too much for them.
I told myself that I didn’t expect too much from anyone and realistically, I didn’t because since the day I read those words, I had been overly cautious about expectations. Yet my heart still ached at the thought of this accusation. In church one morning my pastor said that you have to “mourn the loss of the relationship that you thought you’d have, so you can accept the relationship that you actually have.” Though the context was not referring to my current relationship status with this friend, that is exactly where my heart meandered. My friend who vocalized her frustration with my level of expectation has since married into our family and is a permanent member of my life. Though our friendship looks nothing like the closeness we once shared, I had to mourn the image I had in my head of how I thought we would look so that I can accept what is actually there. Because I see her with some regularity, I have found myself feeling disingenuous in my interactions with her, as if our friendship can’t exist outside of the image that I used to have in my head.
"Walk with the wise and become wise, for a companion of fools suffers harm." - Proverbs 13:20
This verse reminds me of the importance of the people with whom I surround myself. They influence so much of who I am, and this verse gives me permission to choose them wisely. When I was told that I was putting too much pressure on my friends, I tried hard to be someone I am not, instead of surrounding myself with friends who accepted me and loved me as I am, the way God made me. This verse also gives me permission to delicately end friendships that are harmful or accept the relationships as they are, not how I imagined them to be.
Maybe I did expect too much out of her back then and maybe I expect too much out of her right now, simply by assuming that our friendship would look different than it does. However, I am not wrong for separating myself, mourning the loss of the relationship that we had, and accepting the relationship that we have today. It is ok to distance myself from people who make me feel less than or don’t align with His plan for my life. It is ok to separate from broken friendships that are causing pain. It is ok to mourn the loss of what I thought I’d have and accept what I actually have.
What relationships in your life need mourning so you can accept them for what they really are?
Lindsay Tedder is a believer, wife, mom, bestie and writer who lives in Columbus, Ohio with her bearded, bourbon-loving husband and her too-cool-for-school toddler. She is full of raw honesty, enthusiastic authenticity, amiable compassion, humble grit, powerful passion…and outrageous laughter, double chins, real life, and frothy nectar-of-the-gods coffee…because…coffee. Raised by a hardworking single mom, she overcame such trauma as sexual abuse induced food addiction, the debilitating health issues associated with endometriosis, a decade of infertility, and recurring life themes of worthlessness. Connect with her at www.LindsayTedder.com.
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