Here we go again, yet another piece on friends and why I struggle in this area.
To many, friends are just that—nice, caring people they interact with on a day-to-day basis. Having had so many issues with friends in the past, not just the Crash in 2011 but even as a child, I find great difficulty in calling any person “my friend”.
We may be cellmates or churchmates or colleagues or classmates or whatever, but just because you are nice and somewhat care for me does not make you my friend. Many people consider me a friend by the conventional definition, but by my definition, almost all people are not friends. They aren’t foes, but they certainly aren’t friends.
As a consequence, the term “close friend” has also been widely abused to mean “a person I hang out with quite frequently whom I know better than others”. Again, the people who consider me close might not receive the reciprocation in accordance to my definition.
Before I define the terms “friend” and “close friend”, it is important to justify why I said all that I did above. With the emotional trauma of decades of interaction with people, I realised I had to cut off people from my life. It wasn’t healthy for me, at least in the way I think. The two terms carry with them an emotional baggage, thus it goes against my conscience to abuse these two terms.
With that, I now define the terms “friend” and “close friend” in this manner:
A person is my friend if and only if I trust that person. A person is my close friend if and only if I can really trust that person.
By these definitions, more than 95% of people I know are disqualified right away, since I have problems simply trusting any Tom, Dick or Harry. When people share with me their problems, I always, firstly, respond with, “Thanks for trusting me enough to share this struggle with me,” maybe because it is so scarce for me to trust people enough to really share my struggles with them.
When I ask a person, “How are your friends doing,” they think of the multitudes of people they have met since they take on a more common definition of friend, but in the converse, I only think of the people I trust.
Trust has been taboo for me for a long time. It’s an area I’m still growing in, and to be honest, I can’t foresee my complete victory over said trust issues. My view of people has become wrecked by exceedingly high expectations unmet. I may have given people too high a view in the past, and in response take the 180° flip in giving people too low a view now.
Perhaps the first breakthrough, beyond any growing factor, is the will to even break out of this distrust. Maybe I have grown so comfortable and take so much pride in being unable to trust people that I see no need to break out of it. If this definition of friend has worked for me in recent times, why should I change it? Or a fear-driven question would be, why should I trust people knowing that they would inevitably fail me?
I don’t know when or how this breakthrough will manifest, but I know of Someone whom I can trust to bring it about. It’s not easy, but so worthwhile when it happens. I want to have more friends, people I can trust, and people whom I can freely bless with the blessings I’m given.
“…but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” [Isaiah 40:31]