acquaintances vs. REAL friendships

when God lays something heavy across my heart and then reinforces it with scripture, direction, support… He is calling me out. He has been calling me to share. calling me to open the doors wide to the good and to the ugly.

a few weeks ago i experienced a really tough phone call. they wanted to tell me what they thought about me and my character. i must admit, the phone call left me feeling selfish, caught up in my “remarkable success”… and forging through life with a vile tongue and forgetful memory. i was completely unsure how this situation would pave the way for me to write this post today until i went to church that weekend.

the sermon was about the word: PERHAPS. we read about Jonathan in 1 Samuel. we learned of his  bravery. for his forthright leadership. to bear the burden. to seek after God and that perhaps He would arrive. we looked through scripture and found 2 different places for us to live in:  like Jonathan –>> those that lead. those with big ideas. those that are firm. decisive. intentional OR like an armor-bearer –>> those that support. those that follow. those that believe in their faithful leaders.

we were called out to think about approaching situations with three questions:

#1: can i make a difference? | #2: are we in line with God’s will? | #3: am i moving towards the problem?

–>> i did not realize this topic made me a Jonathan. on this blog. in this space.

when i started sharing about my friendship burdens in a post called Friendships That Suck and then a week later, Maintaining & Canceling Friendships i did not know the impact this topic would have on all of you or even how the sharing has affected me.

Small Anchors is a platform. this is a place where thousands of people click on each day. our blog launched at the end of October and it’s busy around here. i did not expect 100′s of emails, comments, tweets, messages about friendships and how they hurt. how they break down. how they make us feel sad, lonely, lost, uncertain. the impact that others have on our lives. our decisions. i did not know i was going to cry over your stories, i did not know i would feel led to pray for some of you that shared your burdened hearts with me.

/// so today,  i’m vowing to continue. to write about friendships. to write about the hurts. that perhaps you can find some peace and comfort in your losses and the hope to rebuild or start fresh. to make a difference. to seek God’s will as i write about the problems as a means to bring hope & healing.

 today’s topic: 

oi. what a topic.

kinda friends vs. real friends. friends that get the good vs. friends that get it all. friends you like vs. friends you cherish. 

do you have some of those? those friends that are kinda friends? we like to call them acquaintances around here. you know the ones! you meet at a small group, the library, the gym, on twitter, through facebook, a friend of a friend. you interact with some regularity but not overly committed to the time piece. they are available for you to share and they are too. —>> then something happens. a word misread. a text mistyped. an opinion mis-shared. a thought mis-communicated. a phone call left heavy.

removed from twitter. blocked on Facebook. emails and texts not responded to. your heart stops a bit. your breath quickens. you wonder… “what did i do wrong?!” because that friend didn’t know YOU. you only shared a little bit… perhaps something halted you. perhaps you couldn’t. perhaps you just didn’t want to.

friendships will end as quickly as they start.

when friendships begin quick and are built quickly, there is no time to go through your brokenness with them. we tend to limit our sharing. don’t we? okay, so maybe you don’t… but i did! {yes, that’s past tense}. i opted to ONLY share the good. the happy. the pleasant.

the weight loss/not the weight gain. date nights with my husband/not the fighting and bitter words. the clean car/not the disaster left by the kids in the back seat while chowing down cheese puffs just to get them to be quiet long enough to get home. the amazing client/not the disaster client. the happy moments. that’s what we share. happy.

so why are we so troubled over losing a friendship that was not really a friend?

because IT HURTS! it hurts when someone doesn’t like us. it hurts when they remove us. block us. delete us. it hurts because we feel less valued. less important. LESS. we have somehow given them authority to decide how we feel.. to decide what our value is.

let me tell you sweet girls reading this post —->> LET. IT. GO.

yep. that’s my advice. LET. IT. GO.

LET. IT. GO.

“you are only responsible for your part”, offered my wise friend. yep, she’s a true friend. one that heard my cry. offered wise counsel. and left me to rest on this verse.

we are only responsible for our part. our role. our response. offering humble grace. choosing to be silent. choosing to learn from the situation & carry on.

// here’s the difference for me. it comes down to one little thing that has tremendous impact

                                                                                     —>>> TIME.

REAL FRIENDSHIPS are those that you go through the tough with. you offer each other precious time; minutes of days that don’t seem like there is enough for everything else you’re over-committed too. that time you share is essential in building a strong foundation, a friendship. these are the friendships that have lasted throughout my life. they forgave me. they prayed over me. they listened to my hurts and struggles and offered sound advice and sometimes… they just listened. but the common thread of my genuine friendships is the commitment to offer quality time to them {i am a work in progress… aren’t we all?!}

as i have been writing about friendship the past few weeks i have evaluated friendships in my own life and i must say, i am thankful. thankful for those of you that went through this past year with me as Craig and i worked through our broken marriage. for those that stuck around even when i was ugly and broken and sad and angry. for those of you that know the real me and love me anyway.

how do you evaluate a kinda friend from a real friend? what do you do to show your commitment to your friendships? i could always use some more pointers!!

 

 

 

Aimee

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Comments

  1. I think for some people (ok, ME) it can be hard to recognise that not all friendships are (or should be) lifelong and/or life changing. I read somewhere that more of our “close” friendships are as close as they are because of proximity = ease of communication. I have noticed that is so true for me. I have friends who I love to hang out with and share life with (I share with EVERYONE) but will notice things drop off, and wonder why. 9 times of 10 something in our situation changes and we aren’t able to conviently get together regularly like we used to. Like any other relationship, friendships are hard work, need maintenance, and it can be hard to know where to invest our time and energy.

    It took me a long time to realise that while I have lots of “friends” I only have two very close friends, one of whom is my husband, another is a dear friend from church. We have known each other for twelve years and have been close for four. The eight years before I had a close girlfriend were rough on my husband (he’s great, but he ain’t no girlfriend).

    I have always been a “one friend at a time” kind of girl. I never had more than one or two close friends and once I became a Christian and learned that we have to be as careful when choosing our friends as we are choosing a spouse (it’s true!) God opened my heart towards the right friendships. Beautiful, edifying, Godly friendships, and allowed me to enjoy my other friends for what they are: fun, encouraging (one must still be wise in their aquantances), joyful relationships.

    It’s late. I hope this made sense!

    • i love your heart claire. God has totally blessed me with amazing, Christ-centered, seeking-Jesus, encouraging friendships that i might not otherwise have if i didn’t have the room in my life. by letting go of some of those friendships, i have more time.

      you’re right, friendships are work. hard work.. and i love that i always hang out with my best friend the most; this man of mine that sticks through it all with me. i’m so glad we’re connected!!!

  2. What a great article and a great site. I know you touch the hearts of many.

  3. Aimee,

    Amen. This is something that i have struggled with in particular. Actually recently went through canceling a friendship that ended in an implosion practically. However I love that you are speaking truth and scripture right to this. You are so right. I am responsible for me. Plain and simple, and beyond that I can pray for the other person but gosh I’m realizing part of what I need to pray for is decrement on how God would have this relationship go, or even not go! Thank you so much for speaking out about this, it really spoke right to my heart.

    Lydia

    • I’m so sorry to hear about your friendship that ended… it is never easy, regardless of what side you’re on, to go through that. I truly believe it — we are only responsible for our half and hopefully they will take responsibility for theirs. thank you for stopping by!

  4. You are such a great writer Aimee! I love this post – it’s such a hard lesson to learn.
    I think we as women tend to hold onto to relationships so tightly – and take everything so personally. :) It’s so hard to “let go” and you’re right – time is such a huge help. It’s definitely something I still need to work on! :) Thanks for this series!

    • i LOVE that you stop over and read my loooong-winded posts and then share. i adore our friendship and CANNOT wait to spend a day crafting.

  5. Ah, sweet friend, you are wise beyond your years. :) It took me going through a divorce at the age of 38 to figure out about the different kinds of friendships. And it was extremely painful and humbling. Thanks be to God for the true friends I have in my life. Including you. :)
    Enjoy your conference this week!
    xo Heidi

    • thank you Heidi — it has been a tough few years to go through this many struggles — and then to finally feel comfortable to share my hurts. your comment means so much to me and truly gives me hope that i’m making a difference!! cannot WAIT to talk to you on Monday!!

  6. The thing I have struggled with in the past is how “disposable” I feel when I am not in close proximity to friends. I have found that I am the one pursuing relationships after I have moved or the other person has moved. It seems phone calls and/or emails aren’t enough for my “friends” and my feelings are hurt. I have resolved to stop the pursuit. They know I have called. They know I have emailed. The ball is in their court. If they aren’t interested then so be it. I need to lick my wounds and move on. I have learned to hold my own counsel more. I spend more time in prayer looking for guidance.

    By the way, Aimee, I love these posts. They are so honest and open. I wish I had the guts to put it all out there like this.

    • Jennifer,
      When I read your comment it felt like something that had come from my heart and hand. I really relate to everything you have confided and pray that you will find peace in your choice to move on, I have personally found it hard on my heart and hope that by these choices a true friend will appear without me having to chase and worry a friendship into being.
      My love and hope is sent truly with nothing but honest best wishes.
      Kerry

    • i KNOW those feelings all too well. i feel like, “i have done my part. i have asked. i have called. i have sent packages. i have loved on…” and all i want to encourage you is that by giving them a little more grace that perhaps they are going through something right now. i know, not what you want to hear. my next post is about our marriage and the hurts from it and that it’s not that i didn’t want to my friends with my friends – i was embarrassed. scared. ashamed and could not, would not share. just remember to own your part and they will have to own theirs. offering grace & mercy will always be more important than stopping the pursuit.

      i adore your heart and i know you are in the right place. you can call me anytime on friday/beer night!

  7. Aimee, i look forward to reading your write-ups. I love reading anything that I can gain at least one thing from that will help better me as a person. i have a very limited number of friends on facebook. i typically write “happy” things because typically i am happy. however, a couple days ago i wrote a post about feeling lost and alone. it was amazing to me how very few of my “friends” commented on that post, but are so quick to “like” or comment on my other posts. very eye opening to me. therefore, i appreciated when you wrote about how you typically talk about the weight loss, date nights, clean car. the people that don’t know about the flipside or care to listen to it must not be true friends anyway.

    furthermore, marriages are always a work in progress. i didn’t know about any hardships you and craig were having, which must make me more of an acquaintence, but i assume that all marriages are hard. brett and i vow to never fall out of love at the same time. this has helped us so far and hopefully it will continue to help us in the future. our marriage has certainly been tested, which all will be at some point, but we came out stronger in the end. if you and craig haven’t already, i know you will too.

    • Chelsea, I’m sorry that you feel that way – but I do value you and your friendship. The brokenness that Craig & I went through — was so embarrassing, was so difficult, was by far the hardest time in my life I have ever endured and trust me girl, I was alone through this. By choice. I did not want to share. I did not want to call. I did not want to ask anyone for help. You are not the only close friend that did not know… which is exactly why Craig and I will be sharing our past year.. writing together, sharing our story for friends, family… and even acquaintances to read. I felt very limited in what I could share because our marriage was breaking from Craig’s past… and it was not for me to tell. Please forgive me for not coming to you about this; as you will soon read and hopefully understand why.

      I am glad you read my posts and are learning from them. I have been learning a lot to as I write.. truly trying to figure out where I’m at and what I want/need from friendships and relationships in general.

  8. I just went through something like this last week! I haven’t even been back on Facebook since because it just turned me away from social networking on there. An acquaintance took offense to a status I made about something (fireworks… go figure. I don’t like them because on NYE they went until the early hours of the morning and I have young children). In return, she wrote a status about me, but made it vague and didn’t say exactly WHO she was talking about it (though it was obvious… especially to me). Then when I called her out for being mean (she’s always doing these type of statuses about people) she deleted me! I was still hurt wondering why someone is so hurtful and just flat-out mean to people, but it’s a burden lifted that I don’t have to worry about her words anymore.

    • that does not sound like an enjoyable interchange – ugh! when people post statuses like that they are encouraging that person to respond… then when they do, they delete. it’s a game and obviously not one that needs to be played. i am proud of you for questioning her and that perhaps this delete is the best for you two — you can carry on without the threat of her acting that way again. i’m so sorry & hope you can find some closure from this situation.

  9. Wow, what a great blog today. Hit some heart strings. Had a friend one time that almost tore apart my marriage. But thankfully God was in control and I spent many days, months and years on my face working it out with God. I have several very close friends and many more friends who I totally enjoy being with. But I will only share some things with the very close friends. God’s family is so big and I enjoy being social. God turns the evil the enemy intended into good just like the experience you went through with the friends. See how God is helping so many women. Keep sharing, it is a healing ointment for you and us.

    • your comment was so sweet. thank you so much for sharing… i love how God steps in to protect and heal and to cover you with grace. i too enjoy being social but after this year, i am learning to control my sharing, be more firm in my choice of friendships and be to offer mercy & grace. i am so glad you stopped by today!

  10. Once again, you hit the nail on the head. My BFF and I have talked a LOT about this lately– the phases of friendships, what works for us, what doesn’t. And it is TIME that ended up being the root of some bad friendships. Love you for sharing your heart.

    • thank you Julie. i love your sharing. your heart. you, my friend, make me a point to connect with me and i adore that about you. thank you for being my friend!

  11. Aimee, what an inspired post. Jonathan happens to be one of my most favorite characters (people) in the Bible.
    I had a weird situation recently. A “friend”, someone I had shared deep things with and vice versa, then did some work for, complained and gossiped about me at a shower to my neighbor, who barely knew her. I guess I should have seen this coming, I have kept this friendship at a lower level for years because I was aware of this person’s backbiting. Still, always trying to give her the benefit of the doubt and see the better in her, hoping the ugly parts would fade away. Apparently they didn’t, and it was just my turn to get the brunt of her complaining. I was shocked at how easily she wrote off our “friendship” when I expressed my disappoint in her behavior. Again, why should I have been surprised when I had seen her do this with others. Why did I think I was “special” or immune to her behavior? Lesson learned, if someone in your life exhibits unkind behaviors and you let them into your life, overlooking these behaviors, it is just a matter of time until the behavior turns on you. In my case, it was a good 6 years! I pretty much have just let it go, but sad that I invested more than I should have in this poison friend.

    One thing I have learned of how to invest in my cherished friendships? Serve your friends. Not be a doormat, but serve them. And do it before they are really in crisis, so at that point, you are comfortable with serving them. Tell your cherished friend how important they are to you and how grateful you are for their friendship. These words and actions build friendships that I believe extend beyond our time here on earth.

    I am so sorry you have had such a hard time this past year in your marriage. I have to say, I was surprised, but not surprised. I really believe that the best marriages go through really rocky, troubled times. This is called growth. My husband and I had a very bad patch several years ago. It took a lot of open communication, listening without judging and SERVING each other to build our relationship back again. It has taken a lot of practice, and we have back slid. But when we see ourselves heading down that road again, we both know to call a time out and work together to be strong again. The last few years have been the best we have ever had. And that is saying something, being that in the last few years, we have had the most horrible trials and losses. We worked through our grief and pain, our challenges together. This year we will celebrate 20 years of marriage. I have never been more in love with my husband, and it really has become better with each year that goes by. If I start to become irritated or annoyed with my husband, I think about what I can do to serve him, and do this for several days until the anger, frustration, apathy, passes. In return, he is more attentive to me, more loving, more giving. Serving as Christ would have us serve each other is truly the best path to happiness.

    When you look back on this troubled time in your marriage, you will know it was for a purpose, and that purpose was to help you find more joy than you knew possible in marriage. Every time I hear from you, it is like a little warm fuzzy in my heart. I am so grateful you are in my life. You are one amazing person. Love tons. -karen

    • oh Karen… you need to come write for me someday! :) i so enjoyed reading this — the first part, about friendships — I was the UGLY one this past year. when dealing with our dying marriage and our difficult stuff, i was hiding from God, hiding from His word and truths, hiding from friends and making friends with people that allowed me to openly gossip. it seemed like every facet of my life was in shambles and i was grasping in thin air seeking for someone to give me value since i felt useless everywhere else.

      and it’s true — our marriage is stronger and more in tune than ever before. this month we’ll have “dated” for 13 years. the love we have now is better, stronger, more stable and more in line with what we are called to have then ever before. we learned so much through this struggle…. and struggle it was. the most difficult times i’ve ever faced.

      i adore you too friend and always thankful for your advice, your wisdom and you’re lived-through experiences. thank you for visiting our blog!

  12. you had me at “perhaps..” :)

    that word right there has spoken to me so much since last fall when I studied the life of David. I did not like David one bit until that study. I always said the only good thing that came from David was Solomon lol I just couldn’t understand how God could continue to put up with him! And then I realized that God makes all things beautiful, and good, and uses them to glorify Him. So where I saw only flaws, I failed to see God at work. Applying that personally, I then realized there are so many people put up with ME and I learned all over again of God’s love through others..

    bringing it back to this; I am still healing with friends, but also being so cautious with others. Sometimes there are people who I want to get to know more, but I can tell it’s not going to be reciprocated. Or it’s the opposite and I’m the one pausing before a tweet to make sure I’m not giving more than I’m ready to. It’s just like you said: the time. Also, attention or concern. Trying to manipulate any of those to make everyone happy has always left me in ruin.

    Now, if I do not have the time or womanpower or heart, I won’t pretend I do. And if I do have even a second, it’ll stretch to minutes if it’s a relationship God has truly blessed. Today, my three most favorite friends called me in tears needing a shoulder. Well, I only have two! Also, I had a packed schedule. But somehow I found the strength to just look up and thank Him for the opportunity, right there in that moment, to be the most attentive and selfless best friend I could be, for each of them.

    I did not get to tweet back to several new followers, read blogposts I intended to, or return texts.. and if there are feelings of offense, I gotta leave it up to Him to take that.

    I had to go where I was needed most.. to my real friends, my sisters.. the ones that have picked me up when I was in pieces.

    now that I’m sobbing…. LOL

    xo

  13. It’s midnight and I finally got time to read this post. I “saved” it all day until I knew I would have enough time for it. I actually read your post 2 times, then all of the comments (they’re good too). You write from the heart and I love that. A rare thing to find sometimes.
    Yes, REAL friendships are rare. They do exist but the journey to them is usually rough. Lots of twists and bumps in the road. I hit a big bump in some of mine about 10 years ago. I lost MANY “friends” when my personal life changed dramatically. I changed my life to take care of my family….some people understood and accepted that, others didn’t. It hurts. I miss them. The ones that stayed, my REAL friends, more than make up for the loss.
    I’m so glad that you started this blog. It’s truly inspiring and enjoyable! I look forward to your posts with Craig. Everybody has marriage drama whether they want to admit it or not. That’s how marriages get stronger and grow. You guys are just awesome for wanting to share yours….it’s going to help SO many others!
    OK, I’ve been here for almost an hour….time to go. Sleep awaits :)
    Shasta

  14. Again you take my breath away with your words. Your thoughts are always right on track with my own. Recently I’ve been figuring out who my real friends are after separating from my several year relationship; had been a major eye opener. There have been people who I thought were old acquaintances, who are actually real friends and have been there for me and new acquaintances of every sort.

    You are amazingly confident and share most good and happy stories, as do I. Who wants to hear about our drama and heartache? We are very similar people. We have this outer shell that is exposed that people think we are strong and unbreakable, however, inside we are sensitive, caring, compassionate women, looking out for ourselves and our hearts. We can’t dwell in the negativity.

    So can these acquaintances ever be real friends? I suppose it is up to them. As you have said, we are only responsible for half. We can only do so much. If they stick around long enough to truly get to know us, they may be surprised and want to invest that time. You and I both know, out hearts are big enough to let many people in as long as they are willing to have a little compassion.

    I am so happy that you and Craig were able to get through your obstacles and overcome some impossibilities. You are a strong woman and I am proud to say, faults and all :) that I love ya!

  15. In a time of pinterest overload, diy projects and photographing our “perfect” families, (my consumption of the internet) it is a great start to a new year to follow something of substance. We need this real conversation and to look into ourselves instead of our outward appearance. Perfect timing too, the pendulum is swinging for me from being casually superficial to being real. The good, the bad, and the ugly. Thanks for taking us in this direction.

  16. Thanks Aimee, As soon as my 15 yr old gets ungrounded for dishonesty, I am going to try and turn her on to this blog. A “friend” and she got into some trouble together recently. Any suggestions from me about the little things in life are meet with eye rolling, because of course Momma doesn’t know anything. I know it was testing the limits and excerting herself, still unacceptable!!

  17. Thanks for sharing. I still struggle with several “friends” and even family who deleted me when I divorced. But working on letting it all go with my “burning god the grievances.”

  18. Aimee,
    You are such a brave woman! Admirable and real. I was thinking about the friendship we had when you were living here in NY and what I loved most about you. I was always able to enjoy our time together. You never annoyed me—and that is not an easy feat! lol. You weren’t afraid to speak the truth—and you always inspired me to do more. I’m glad you and Craig were able to work through your problems, you have a beautiful family.

    • thank you Amanda. your words mean so much to me. i LOVED spending time with you + of course, playdates with all of the kids. i learned so much about patience.. you always had a load of it and i was always wishing i had more. we can’t wait to come visit again and spend time with you! thank you for stopping by & sharing with me! i really do adore you!!

  19. I’m still so broken in this area Aimee, my eyes just cannot dry themselves. I cry cry cry because IT HURTS. I’ve never been so hurt before. And how do you guard your time? How do you say no to those not so friendly friends? How do you put up boundaries without them turning into walls? How does a woman in ministry say no to the women in her ministry you say no to them?

    Everything I once knew about friendships is shattered.

    My only constant is Jesus, hallelujah that he will never fail me.

    Please don’t stop this series. I need it.

    • oh sweet friend. my heart hurts for you & these struggles. friendship is tricky. weird. awkward. i wish there was a formula to follow… that everyone would follow so we could understand their intentions, their changes, their stuff. will continue to pray for you sweet girl – praising Him who gave us the mind to think, the words to whisper, the friends to lean into. more coming on this topic — being led by the Spirit to share without hindrance.

  20. my husband has been on deployment.
    ever since he left i’ve been struggling with the whole ‘real friends’ issue. before he left so many were constantly spouting their pledges of support and devotion, only to find that the majority of them disappeared just about as quickly as his ship did from the docks.
    and this struggle hasn’t gotten any easier.
    i stumbled on this post because of another post you had written on ‘fancy little things’ which i had found on pinterest. re-pinned it, read it, and eventually found my way over here. the funny thing is that you and i have mutual friends. why have i never stopped by your blog before this evening? *sigh* i don’t know. i could have used a dose of you sooner, but now is better than never.
    in short, thank you for this post and the series you are doing. i have wanted to write about my personal feelings, and reading this has helped put some clarity in my thoughts. when i do post, i’ll definitely be linking back so everyone else can come back to the source of my clarity.
    thank you!

    • i am so sorry that you’re going through this. i have experienced some moments in my life beyond what you have read here… where the realization is that i don’t have friends. i have people that say “hi” at church, i have people that call when they need something.. but true, real, deep down friendships didn’t exist. it has taken years for me to trust others enough to share with them my life hurts & pains… i am going through a season now that if someone regularly changes my demeanor that does not glorify God or prohibits me from being the best mom that i should be — it’s time to let go. i hope you look at this season as moments of clarity; feeling out what you need in a friend and keeping the wall up until you’re ready!

      i love that you found FLT and then this via Pinterest. i look forward to reading your post — please let me know when it’s live!!

  21. I have a lot of trouble with friends. I don’t really consider people a real friend until they invite me some place. Even then I don’t really like to share any thing bad that is happening in my life. I have gone through a great deal of changes in the last 4 years. To be honest have turned my life upside down by choice and have no clue what I’m doing. My best friend moved 1000 miles away. Another “friend” just stopped talking to me. So now I’m a stay at home Mom trying to find new friends. I would prefer other stay at home Moms, but don’t know where to meet them. I have joined a book club and trying to find a bible study group. We will see how that goes. Thank you for making me feel a little less alone in my search for quality friendships.

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