Friend ... that loaded word.
I love people. I adore them actually. When I people watch, I sometimes literally feel sorry for myself that I can’t get to know them. I know it’s terribly sappy and ridiculous, but I’m trying to be honest here.
The even weirder thing is that in spite of this wish to know every interesting person in the world. (Okay, there might be a few exceptions.) I am often afraid to get to know my own friends. There is always one question looming over me. “What if I fail them?” This comes in a few varieties, including but not limited to, “What if I end up being that one person that they learned to count on and then isn’t there at the critical moment? What if I don’t talk to them very often? What if I do something that makes them feel judged? What if I hurt them?”
With my weird and bad health thrown in, some of these questions felt even more pressing. What if this person knew that all I can think about when I talk to them is how tired I am? How would that person be able to trust me again if they ever found out that for a few moments I absolutely could not remember who they were? How could I ever explain that even my love can’t overcome my physical weakness?
I’ve even gone so far as to tell people, “I love you, but I can’t promise to be there for you. I’m simply not reliable.” I’ve explained to people, “You can call me, but don’t be surprised if I don’t return your calls. You can write me, but I’ll probably forget to write you back.”
I said these things because I thought they were true, I wanted to be honest, I didn’t want to disappoint. I said these things because I wanted to be perfect for you and I knew I would fail. I thought I was breaking it gently, but the truth is that I wasn’t trusting God.
I thought that you needed me to be there all the time, preferably in the same town, or even the same house with you. I thought you needed me to be able to have hours and hours of phone conversations and encouraging letters every month at least, and regular Friday night hangouts, too. I thought you needed me to never be awkward or just plain wrong. I thought you needed me to never disappoint you. Now I realize, I thought you needed me to be God.
The strange thing is that none of you ever asked this of me. I’m the only one who decided what kind of friend I should be. I’m the only one who let friendships die, not from lack of communication, because some of the people I communicate the least frequently with are some of my closest friends. Instead, I let fear starve my friendships. I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to be there all the time, so I eventually wasn’t there at all.
I’m writing this to tell you that I am so sorry.
I’m writing this to tell you that I’ve missed you. I’m sorry that I convinced you that I’d never return your phone calls. I still might be terrible at it, but I’m grateful for every chance you give me. I’m sorry my health sometimes makes me boring, forgetful, moody, and airheaded. But if you can put up with a friend that is all those things, I am so willing. I’m sorry that I’ve wasted so much time wishing I could be God to you, but if you want a friend who struggles with a God complex then I’m the person you’re looking for.
I’m sorry I don’t have all the time in the world but if you’re willing to work with whatever God gives us, then I am more than willing to treasure the moments He gives us to share. I’m sorry if I’ve ever communicated that we can’t be friends because we believe differently. Believing differently had nothing to do with it; we couldn’t be friends because I was too afraid.
I’m especially sorry for those of you in the past that I judged and condemned. I was playing God then too, and I’m terrible at the part.
If you are willing to remind me that you don’t need me to be perfect, then I want to be there for you during those times when you do need me. I don’t want fear to steal any more of the lovely relationships I could be sharing. Thanks for being patient with me and giving me more grace than I was even capable of accepting.