Maybe Its’ Just Me….

Our society is very fast moving. Time is of the essence – the pressure to do more is endless. Friendships tend to take a backseat. The effort to sustain relationships outside (and sometimes inside) immediate family is difficult to muster…at least for me. It isn’t that I don’t care. It isn’t that I am an uncaring bastard (hopefully…), its the barrage of “life” that causes my focus on people and relationships to drift. Sometimes, I need a refuge from the demands and, for me, that usually means seeking solitude rather than friendship. I can blame my wiring as an introvert for that, but that excuse doesn’t make the people who I’ve neglected feel any better.

And then, there’s the financial cost of maintaining (or building) relationships. My wife had a difficult choice recently – accept an invite with a potential new friend to see a concert for $200 or say no and risk not getting a future invite. Do you know what I mean, faithful reader or is it just me? The cost of participating is immense sometimes – vacations, sports, youth activities, dinners, movies. We plan to join a group of friends for a 5K next month and the registration fee is $35/head….for a 5K? Insert profanity here. But, the cost of isolation is higher.

But, Jeff, if you had real spiritual friends, this wouldn’t be an issue. Oh, yeah, skippy? As young marrieds, we were part of a group that went out to lunch after church each week. We really didn’t have the money, but we went because we didn’t want to be miss out. Pay to play applies in church life also, unfortunately. And, if you haven’t already, you’ll feel it with your kids too. The birthday party invite for their little friend? That’s $50. No, your 7 year old can’t pony up for that yet, so it’s on you. Throw in social media and the desire to live the Instagram life and its no wonder why Americans are so deeply in debt. This is the state of relationship in America.

 

As good as it gets?

Most of us know that these “pay to play” relationships won’t last. The friends from the sports teams will fade away when your child chooses a different activity. The kid from the birthday party will fall into the “who the hell was that again?” file when I scroll through two years worth of iPhone photos lingering on my device. We go through shallow relationships like a bull shark goes through shallow water.

So, why do we do it? What do we hope to gain?

We hope to find a gem among the grains of sand – the rarest of things – real friendship. And for that, we endure all of the bull. We hope that the couple that came over for dinner will reciprocate and that it will turn into something more. We hope that our kids will find that group that gets them. We hope and long for acceptance. We hope for one true friend.

I must apologize to you for neglecting this online relationship, my loyal reader. If I could see your faces and feel your hearts when I look at the blank page, I would write more frequently. Time, distance and my own tendency to fail to follow through on relationships are an obstacle. I am truly sorry for that. Only in my marriage and with my kids have I truly ever sustained real long term relationships….and those are miracles authored by Someone with better relationship skills than me.

Regardless, you are of value to me whether you are someone I’ve never met you in person or someone I’ve sipped coffee or something stronger with many times. One friend, one relationship can do wonders in your life – To know love (“u da man” encouragement), correction (the “you sure about that?” kind, not the the “you’re an idiot” kind), and peace (“at least someone gets me”). May this post be an encouragement to you and may you count me as your friend today, regardless of distance.

After all, one real friend is all you really need. If I were being almost spiritual, I would tell you the one friend you need is Jesus and you don’t really need anyone else. This is true in a sense. He’ll never leave you and the more time you spend with Him, the more you will know His presence and love. And its also true that God reveals Himself and His will to us through other people. Through relationships. Thankfully, He can use the imperfect ones, the seasonal ones, and the broken ones to reveal Himself. For that I am very thankful.

As always, thank you for reading. My email door, jeff@mckinneywriting.com, is always open. I’ll even write you back. How ’bout that for a friend?

My best and His best to you,

Jeff

Jeff McKinney
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