I am certainly blessed to have friends that I have been close with for many years. Some date back to my childhood, as far back as elementary school.
One of these friends is a quiet, private person who takes on many things without sharing or even thinking of calling, just to blow off some steam or have a friendly ear to listen to his problems. He is solitary and sometimes a little self-absorbed: not in an egotistical or narcissistic way, but in that he will force himself to take on responsibilities and do too much for caring for family, and he does this at the expense of his time for friends.
The reason I am sharing this with you is because as Believers, we will often have people in our lives that ignore us because of what we believe, and will change conversations with us because they are uncomfortable with talking about God and salvation. Even if we are just blowing off steam, kvetching about the world from our viewpoint, and only want them to lend an ear. And when they do that, or when (like with my friend) they do not tell us things that are going on in their life, we feel sort of insulted. Not really insulted …how do I put it? I guess we feel unimportant in their life. Yes, that is how I feel when he doesn’t even call me to let me know that a close family member passed away. In this specific case, more than one.
So, although he says it isn’t anything personal, and I believe absolutely in his mind he never thought to purposefully leave me out of his life, I still felt left out. Did it bother me? Yes. Will it affect my friendship? No.
Why? Because a friend in need is a friend indeed, even when that friend doesn’t want to recognize that he (or she) is in need. My friend needs me to be there in case anything happens where he does need to reach out to someone. I need to be there for him whether he wants me to be or not because that is how I show my love for him. And whether or not he loves me as much as I love him (I am taking brotherly) doesn’t matter, and (frankly) shouldn’t matter. Loving and friendship is great when it is reciprocal, but it is godly when it is not reciprocal. I am not talking about unrequited love, but about the difference in a relationship where two people are friends but one seems to be the giver and one is the taker. I have friendships like that, and they aren’t completely one-sided, but it feels often like I am the one” chasing them down” to stay in touch.
I have asked one or two if they still want to be friends, and they have said they do, so I still do most of the work to stay in touch. And that is why these friendships are so dear to me- they help me to see God’s side of relationships. Many, in fact most, people reject God, His word, His commandments and even those that are “religious” have turned their back on God and Messiah simply because they go through the motions without the emotions. Yet God loves every one of them. He is the ultimate example of unrequited love, which we learn when we read the bible. God so loved the world that He sent His only begotten Son to die so we have a chance to live, and He did that not because we were sinless, but because we can’t stop sinning! Think of that…would you die for someone who acts as though he or she doesn’t care if you are alive or not?
The best way to show the love of God is to love like God- without requiring that the other person love you back, or pay for the next meal, or even return your calls. I am not talking about the ones that take advantage of you or the ones that do not want you to be part of their life and have said so. I am talking about those people you know, friends and family, who are still interested in having a relationship with you but make it really hard to get together. They are the ones who are always busy doing something (I often think they are so busy doing things so that they don’t have to face up to things), or rarely return calls or emails, or just “disappear” sometimes.
These are the ones who need us the most, even though they don’t know it. Because one day they will find themselves with nowhere to go, and no one else will still be putting up with the “I’ve got too much I am dealing with right now” excuse to be there for them anymore. That’s why we need to always be there, just as God is always there for them, too.
If you truly know the love and forgiveness of God, then you have to show it to others. That’s how it works.