Monday, October 26, 2015

Day 26: Imbalance in Friendship {31 Days of Friendship}

Yesterday in my Friendship Quotation Sunday post, I included this gem from Jane Austen:
 "There is nothing I would not do for those who are really my friends. I have no notion of loving people by halves; it is not my nature." - Jane Austen
This quotation describes me to a T.
With my friends, I am loyal and giving. Always have been, always will be. And most of the time, my friends are the same with me. Here's an example:

Pictured is my friend Emma* whom I've written about before. This photo is from a mall on one of our "meet ya halfway" trips to see each other one of the summers I lived on the other side of the state while my husband began his new job, wherever he was at the time. She is my very best friend, and whenever we can we meet each other halfway. It's been that way since college days.

Having a friend who always gives to us can be great. Having a friend who gives, and to whom we can give, is even better. But having to be the one who gives all the time, over and over again, can be so very tiring. It's exhausting emotionally and spiritually, isn't it? In my own best and longest-lasting friendships, it's been a lot of give and take. Sometimes, though, it feels imbalanced. And that's when I check my feelings for the truth.

On my very first introductory post, someone wrote a comment that she felt imbalance in her friendships. I can identify. Emma and I have this joke that we both can't be going through a rough patch at the same time, or else we're in trouble! When we were a threesome (and we have been in with different other ladies over the past 30-plus years we've known each other), we say that we hope if she and I are both having difficult days, that our third person is able to be positive for the two of us!

This brings to mind the verses from Ecclesiastes 4:9-12:

Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed. If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble. Likewise, two people lying close together can keep each other warm. But how can one be warm alone? A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken.
Amen, amen.

So what do you do if you're the one constantly giving, giving, giving--or you feel that way? First, pray about it. Then, I would suggest that you stop and think about it as objectively as you can. (This can be difficult if you're feeling hurt or emotional.) Is it true that you're always the one giving, or does it just feel like it? Sometimes our feelings are deceiving--and that is saying a lot from someone who really does go with her gut quite often. Try and keep track in your journal, or make a note in your planner, each time you contact your friend. This will give you a visual to see if it really is one-sided. If so, I'd suggest pulling back a bit from that friendship and again, keep track of it. Not that you're keeping evidence against the person; you're merely tracking if your emotions are an accurate assessment of the situation. If you indeed are the only one keeping the friendship going, you could talk to the friend. If the friendship isn't healthy, I suggest pulling back and see what happens. Sometimes, the friendship will revive. Sometimes, it will fade away. Only time will tell.

And sometimes, life throws some wild pitches. During those really hard times, there will indeed be an imbalance. But if it's a true friendship, it will even out eventually. I firmly believe that.

* Name has been changed. I'm using Austenian pseudonyms for this series. Emma Woodhouse from Jane Austen's Emma is one of my favorites. Not that this particular friend has tried to regulate my life as Emma did with Harriet, but you know, favorite friends get favorite Austen names.

To read the introductory post for this #write31days series, click here.

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