A few months ago I spilled my heart out on how I had been having the best of intentions in my pursuit of God & my investment in my relationship with Him, but my actions did nothing to reflect that. I wasn’t actually doing anything to set the longings of my heart into motion. We all can fall victim to letting our thoughts be enough, and as a result our lives stop matching up with our words or thoughts. Therefore it is a commitment to keep pursuing God each day. It’s a choice every morning to turn away from our selfish desires and look towards Him. It’s a choice to love Him. Just like it’s a choice to love our spouses. Just like it’s a choice to love our friends. And that’s where I want to pick up this topic today: loving our friends.
A little while back I read a short article by Shauna Niequist called “Why it doesn’t matter how you feel about your friends.” It wasn’t what I was expecting when I first clicked a link to it, so go ahead & give it a quick read for yourself. For me, it shed some light on something that was already resonating in my heart. Because the truth is, we can feel all we want about someone, but if we never do anything to communicate it, how is that person going to know? Too often in my life I’ve gotten caught up in believing that certain friends don’t care about me, because I rarely, if ever, hear from them. Mix in the fact that the majority of my relationships are now long distance and it gets even harder. I can get stuck in thinking that I don’t matter that much to these friends. That I’m not important to them. & that hurts deep. It’s hard to swallow.
On the other hand, I’m also guilty of being the person that doesn’t pursue contact with people too. Most days I’ll think of friends. I’m reminded of memories I’ve shared with others and think about how much I appreciate them. But then I move on with my day. I can fail to reach out to that friend and let them know that I’m thinking of them. Or I can fail to take out the time to make plans with them. They don’t hear about how I feel about them. They don’t hear anything at all. Simply because I let other matters weigh more important. & by all means, we all have important things going on in our lives. But we also have plenty of not-as-imperative things going on in our lives that we make out to be important (i.e. social media, cleaning the house, focusing on ourselves). Is it really that hard of a sacrifice to give some of our words, time, or attention to someone we say we love?
Shauna’s article mentioned this quality parenting advice: “It doesn’t matter how much you love your kids. What matters is communicating that love in a way that they can understand and feel that love.” (I’m definitely storing that one in the vault). But she so perfectly connects that to our everyday relationships. It doesn’t matter how much you love your friends (or spouse, or family, or whoever). What matters is communicating that love in a way that they can understand and feel that love.
When others don’t communicate they’re love for me, I start to doubt them and their care for me. When I don’t communicate my love for others, I open up the room for them to doubt whether I care about them at all. “The things we feel about one another so often go unexpressed, because we’re busy or thoughtless, assuming they know, assuming it’s more than clear.” Our intentions don’t mean a thing if we don’t ACT on them.
For me, my heart lights up when an old friend finally does make contact, and I’m reminded that they do think of me. My world changes when I make contact with a friend and we chat for an hour and everything goes back to the way it was before. I’m reminded that they do care. What if we could avoid the moments of doubt by filling in the gaps with moments of love?
I’m reminded of a life long lesson for me: We will all fail others. We will all let others down. We will all fall short of fulfilling the needs that our friends have. Only Jesus can be that tried & true friend and lover. & there is grace in our imperfections. But what we CAN do is learn to love the people in our lives well. We can let someone know when we randomly think of them. We can go out of our way to express our gratitude of someone by picking up the phone and telling them. Or by doing something to show them. We can spend some of our time hanging out with them. Don’t just settle for good intentions. Give the ones you love your best efforts, your constant efforts. Because if they are worth it, then they should know.
What are some ways that you could start communicating more love to your friends?