It's been a long time coming for me to talk about this but it's something I finally think I can do. Years back I was in a conversation with a girl who was upset at me for something I didn't do. She was hearing things through the grapevine, jumped to conclusions, and got really mad at me. I didn't even know until I reached out to talk to her, noticing she was being standoffish. (I noticed because I cared, by the way!) Now let me just say I am not a dramatic person. I would happily avoid conflict at all cost- but If there IS conflict I will address it and make it right. Side story: in high school there was a girl who said to me, "remember when we HATED each other in P.E.?" She was laughing about it because she realized I was actually really nice and we got along really well in another class we subsequently had together. When she said that, I was confused. I laughed along, awkwardly agreeing, but honestly in my heart I had no problem with her... ever. So back to my original point...
I was talking to this friend on the phone... she was mad... but it was all a misunderstanding. Even after explaining to her that I didn't do what she was accusing me of, she seemed skeptical. I'm fine with disagreements in relationships. It's healthy for people to overcome things together! Would I rather this not be a "thing"? Yes! It wasn't fair to me at all! But it was happening and I was willing to work it out. She wasn't. I told her, "I would never do that, we're friends." She told me, "Connie, we aren't even friends!" I was dumbfounded. Sure, I had only known her a few years. No, I didn't grow up with her like the rest of her friends but how does that not make us friends? We got each other birthday gifts, we had play dates, birthday parties, talked about our common interests, and did girls nights. Hanging out lessened as I became a busy mom, also going to school at the time (and had other really tough hardships going on), but I considered us friends.
It got me thinking of how unfortunate this title "friend" can be. Why is it unfortunate? Because people look at it like it's a relationship title you don't just throw out, it's exclusive. If you start considering someone your friend you had BETTER be ready to do some service for them. You might as well start picking their kids up from school and baking them birthday treats, right? Ain't nobody got time for that- so keep the friendship circle small, right? OK OK, I will digress with the sarcasm and continue with my original point. My point is... calling someone a friend SHOULDN'T be exclusive. It doesn't mean you HAVE to hang out all the time... but it should mean there is a mutual respect for each other. You can take it a step further and include them in things, isn't that the Christlike way? I admit I've neglected to do this at times because I've considered some people different than me and figured we wouldn't possibly connect. But, how can I know right away?
Friendship should have no limits and the title "friend" shouldn't be limited to only certain people. As I have gone from growing up in California to living in Virginia, Idaho, Utah, Arizona, Oklahoma, Tennessee, and Kentucky (and some of those back and forth for a long time) I have really appreciated those people willing to extend a hand of friendship to me- even if it was for just a short month or two. No, I haven't really been able to generate a non-family-female-best-friend since college, but it's been important for me to find friends, and to feel like I am someone's "friend".
People in general, and I'm sure I can do better too, need to open their hearts to others and love. Christ, our best example of how to be, would consider EVERY SINGLE PERSON a friend. On earth Christ would look past the imperfections and weaknesses of everyone, and love them. He does that even on the other side of the veil. I think people would be a lot happier within themselves if they looked at everyone as equals and gave everyone an equal opportunity to feel the hand of friendship extended toward them. I wish I could go back in time and befriend "the new girl" in school- whoever they might've been- now that I know just how much it means.