True Love

Are You My Friend?

What does it even mean in modern society to persevere?  One of my friends posted this on Facebook the other day.  Why Modern Relationships Are Falling Apart So Easily Today.  It basically said that instead of true love, people are looking for relationship highs and when things even out they move on to the next high.  That people treat each other more like commodities than people.  That people for the most part are filling their time chasing materialistic dreams, looking for instant gratification in everything we do, greedily keeping our options open for the next best invite instead of committing to spend time with someone who genuinely wants to be with us, and basically in doing so, sets our expectations so high that we set ourselves up for failure.

The article went on to say that technology which allows us to “stay connected” actually drives us apart because when we do get together in person, there isn’t anything left to say.  That sex comes early and easily but loyalty is rare.  Instead people are willing to forgo the experience of deep and abiding love for a physical experience of a hook up.  And that people today aren’t willing to carry out grand gestures that don’t makes sense for the one you love, but instead are driven by logical and practical considerations that suck the romance out of life.

It said we are a people who are guarded and afraid to be vulnerable for fear of getting hurt, so we are the opposite extreme and live a life wanting love but never letting anyone get close enough to us to actually be in love with.

As I read the article, at times I was angry because I don’t think of myself like that at all.  I risk, I fight, I love, I’m a friend, and while I admit to being afraid, I don’t let that fear of getting hurt rule me.  But the more I thought about other people I have in my life, it seemed to describe them to a tea.  At least portions of them.  I have friends who are so guarded they won’t let anyone in, even IF it makes sense to try.  I have friends who leap into bed with the first man who pays them any attention and then wonder if they really even like the guy let alone LOVE them.  I have friends who keep people close but not close enough to truly see their souls.  I have friends who keep themselves so busy they don’t have time to feel alone and when they do, they figure out something else to do to distract themselves from the fact that they truly are ALONE in the world.

When I read the article, I admit, I felt somewhat hopeless.  What are we coming to?  What is my son and my daughter facing as they maneuver this social landscape trying to find what came so easily to those who lived a generation or two before them?  My husband and I think back to our high school and college days and remember it wasn’t that hard to find a boyfriend or girlfriend.  It wasn’t hard to find a date or a group of friends to hang out with.  But it is much harder for my kids.  At twenty and twenty-one, neither of them are in relationships.  They have friends that feel more like acquaintances than true friends, despite their 1000 followers on Instagram and over 700 “friends” on Facebook.

And then it hit me that this article, which focuses on romantic relationships, is really describing a symptom of a bigger problem.  Let me explain:

When I first got together with my husband, he was living a life that was very much like the article describes.  “Looking for love in all the wrong places, looking for love in too many places…” you know how the song goes.  When we became friends again 25 years after high school, I was determined to be his friend only.  I was determined to be in a mutual, equal friendship.  I didn’t want him to buy me anything, I wasn’t really even “in it” for me.  I felt like he was surrounded by people who took advantage of his caring, giving, good nature or took “the deal” at face value and didn’t want anything deeper than what he was offering.  I saw that as an empty existence and I wanted to show him something different.  I wondered if he had a true friend if that would help him see the world differently.  I wondered if that would give him hope.  I certainly wasn’t looking to fall in love.

We would meet up for an early dinner and get into these philosophical discussions where he was used to winning hands down.  Sometimes only because he pushed harder and rattled people’s cages.  And I admit he rattled me to tears sometimes.  But I knew he was pushing me away on purpose to keep me at a distance.  And anyone who knows me, knows that I don’t give up easily.  I’m quite tenacious.  And I kept coming back for more.  I think it surprised the hell out of him (quite literally).  Why in the world would I come back for more?  It was because I truly wanted to be his friend.  I wanted him to know what it looked like when someone didn’t walk away.  And each time that happened, he let me in a little bit more.  I didn’t push, I didn’t prod.  I just loved the man.  And beyond wanting to be something to him, or get something from him.  I wanted to give him friendship and love.  And trust me…he gave it right back to me.

He became my most loyal friend I’ve ever had.  He would have my back in any situation.  He would listen to me scream about my children, or job, or whatever it was upsetting me.  He would give me a smile and laugh when I said something stupid and then forget I said it instead of holding it against me.  This bond was created between us that became unbreakable.

Today we are walking through our lives together.  We’ve been married over two years.  And to be honest, this past three months have been the hardest test of our relationship.  There have been times when loving him and being his friend have had to take the front seat to being his wife.  And I wouldn’t have it any other way.  Because I’m NOT the person the article was written about.  The “wife” label is all well and good.  But true love and friendship are the soil and water that allows the seed to sprout into a wife.

Think about that. Women…we are to love and be a friend to our husbands.  

Trust me at times it is not easy. 

But what makes it possible?  What else does a plant need to grow?  Water, soil….and sun.

It is only through LIGHT that any relationship actually grows.  Whatever the opposite of dark is because light cannot exist in the dark.  Whatever haunts us, causes us to hurt or grieve one another is dark.  Whatever is selfish that makes us cry out, “What about me!” comes from a dark place and not light.  All of those things need to take a back seat when we are called to be husbands and wives. And dare I say…FRIENDS.  Because it starts there.  Be a good friend and you’ll find out what it takes to be a good spouse.

It’s not about you.  It’s about walking along side another person in life and building them up and doing what you can do to make that walk easier, happier, richer, and truer.  It doesn’t always mean you will succeed every day, but that should be your goal.  If both the husband and wife can see their actions through the filter of LIGHT…then you’ll both be doing what it takes to make the other person feel like they’re not alone. It enables human beings to risk vulnerability because they have a true love and a true friend.

It’s not the easiest way to go…but trust me, it is the most rewarding.

I don’t think relationships today are doomed as the article suggests.  We have to start at learning how to be good friends again.  Real ones.

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