whenever i write about a singular topic, i like to start the post "on..." whatever. to me it is reminiscent of John Locke's "On Government" and sometimes it is nice to feel like John Locke. that said....
living abroad has taught me a lot about friendship. i have come to understand the need for fellowship on an entirely new level. there is an element to life that is not meant to be lived in a solitary way. without a doubt there are times in life when we need to pull back and recuperate as individuals, but there are times when we so desperately need the companionship of other people. sometimes we need help, sometimes we need a listening ear, and sometimes we just need a laugh and a pint. but whatever the occasion we need people. three years out of the comfort zone of my friends, family and country has taught me what a valuable necessity friends can be. old friends, new friends, friends of friends. being in the company of friends can provide some of lifes greatest moments.
but friendship can also be painful. when you truly open yourself up, becoming vulnerable and completely honest with another person, you also open yourself up to a new level of hurt and sadness. often times it is feeling empathy for whatever your friend is going through. but often times it is pain at the hand of your friend, be it intentional or not. this is the aspect of fellowship that proves difficult. because we are humans interacting with other humans, we are bound to make mistakes. our own selfishness comes through and the people around us get hurt. yet in spite of that, the benefits of friendship will always out weigh the negativity.
and i was recently presented with the best and worst of friendship all in the same day. yesterday in fact.
i woke up, quite please after a great nights sleep, ready to start the day. almost immediately i was smacked in the face by the hurtful words and actions of someone i would class as a dear friend. our lives are quite similar, this friend and mine. but perhaps at the moment the few differences that separate us are too great a distance for him to climb. perhaps he is merely distracted by his immediate surrounds. or perhaps our friendship is changing and neither one of us are prepared for that. but whatever the reasons, over the past few weeks, said friend has made me feel used, unappreciated and expendable. even when confronted on such topics, said friend makes no attempt to remedy the situation. i have tried nearly everything i know, but the friendship seems to be at a standstill. because of the history this dear friend and i have, i am having difficultly just moving on. and yesterday i reached the boiling point. it was mentioned in a round about way that i was too self indulgent. hmmmm. when pressed, he couldnt, or wouldnt, elaborate.
at first i was hurt, but that gradually transformed into frustration. and i allowed that frustration to reflect on other aspects of my life. instead of recognizing that it was one friendship, it became that i was estranged from all my friends back home. i was isolated here in wales. even my london friends were too far away. no one really understood, no one really cared. life is so hard for poor little kristina. poor me, poor me, poor me.
obviously that is the mature response to friendship difficulties.
then, later in afternoon i had a chance to have a skype call with another dear friend of mine, devi. Devi and i have an equally long history as the above mentioned friend, but in a much different way. she and i have a unique relationship. people are often surprised that we are such close friends because on the surface we appear quite different. plus in university we had a VERY different group of friends. however, our bond is strong. and our friendship is one of my most treasured. we ended up talking for an hour and half. and it filled my heart. single handedly, she reminded me of all the positives of close friendship. she spoke truth and joy into my heart and life. she asked difficult questions whilst providing laughs at the same time.
the frustration and hurt i felt from one of my friends led me to be vulnerable with another friend. and that second conversation led to an new and very much needed perspective. as a result, today i am evaluating life in a different way. and that small change is making a drastic difference.
both aspects of friendship are necessary. the good and bad are so intertwined that they often work together bringing amazing and unexpected results. and those are the things that enrich our lives. as i think about my friends, i can see specific ways that different people have blessed and filled my life. my london mom friends have helped me become a parent. my london rugby friends have helped me stay spontaneous. my university friends helped me become an adult. my tulsa friends remind me of my roots. my arkansas friends show me what normal life can look like. and my european friends help to open the door of my mind. there are friends for every stage and every situation.
and whatever the situation, we need friendship. all the good and bad that comes along with it. the extroverts among us may want more friends and more interaction than those who tend to be introverted. but there is no way around the basic principle that fellowship is a necessary element of human life. we need friends. and even when i am hurt and frustrated with some of my mine; i am extremely grateful to have the friends that i do.