One of the most challenging experiences in my life has been the search for and the making of new friends. Though I am friendly, approachable and love dialogue and conversation, developing friendships has required far more effort and focus than I recall as a child. Truth is, many things change as we grow. We are wiser, have less time to invest, and have developed walls (from past experiences) that both protect us and hinder us. It is these guards that have become seemingly more important as the quality of person-hood and standard of morals and ethics have deteriorated.
A message preached by Bishop TD Jakes struck a cord, leading to these thoughts. He said, “Disappointment is the result of misjudged expectations.” Though his context was different, I applied it to my current thoughts and realized that I have missed the beauty of many relationships because of the role I mis-identified them as and the expectations that accompanied them. One must understand that there are many roles and needs we have when it comes to relationships. It is the desire and thirst for a good friendship that causes us to place hope I potential and make us vulnerable to those who display friendship traits as a way to gain access.
Our expectations cause us to mislabel, and mislabeling leaves things improperly identified and breed further future frustration. Not labeling properly today, leaves a window for future frustration and hurt. It is this act that causes the most wounds and scars, leading to what seems to be permanent damage, and result in one accepting or adopting the notion that they can make it through life without friends. This is delusion. We need people! We need to be in relationships! We need each other!
God is teaching us to value each relationship based on His intent for them and not our desires for them in our lives. As opposed to searching for a friend, I have learned to value and appreciate each relationship for what it is in the moment. Not rushing to give titles, not projecting expectations, or declaring jurisdictions. Simply finding value in each conversation and encounter which has lead to a more fuller life, less stress and fewer disappointments. I have learned that in every encounter, I must ask myself, “Who are you; to me?” And then, I must accept the answer, properly label and press forward. While the scripture is true, “there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother” (Proverbs 18:24), we must be patient knowing that the best bonds take time.