The Price of Friendship

How do we help other people? And how do they bless us?

My heart answers before my head. And my heart says this:

I help people with my talents. If I’m funny or useful or wise – that’s what necessary. That makes me needed.

Similarly, what I want from other people is just what’s practical.  Not them, but their stuff. Nuggets of advice that I can take away and implement.  Bullet points and potted wisdom – not engagement or intimacy.

Have you ever seen very young children – apparently playing together? Look more closely and you’ll see something different.  They’re not relating at all: just playing separately, side by side.

This is similar. It isn’t relationship: it’s transaction.

What can I get from you? How do you profit from me? How can we sell ourselves in a way that disguises who we are instead of revealing it?

I’m used to thinking that giving myself  means holding myself back. That what blesses people is not me (in my brokenness and who I genuinely am). It’s Pretend Emma: the Helper with her box of solutions.

Messy Emma can’t help herself, let alone anyone else.  But Shiny Emma. That could work.

The problem with Shiny Emma is that I don’t really like her. I respect her and I’m slightly scared of her.  But we have nothing in common. And she’s the last person I’d want as a friend.

My friends –  the people who make a difference in my life – are beautiful, but they’re not shiny.

They’re messy and they’re real. They don’t talk down to me – but they don’t flatter me either.

Their struggles are often very different to mine – but their hearts are the same.  They listen.  They don’t claim to have answers: but they point me back to someone who does.

Their weakness is what gives me strength.

Because relationship is not about hiding, but stepping  into the light.  It’s being vulnerable and honest and refusing to retreat behind our gifts or masks. Giving ourselves  to others and receiving not just from them, but them in return.


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