by Pastor Tim Burt
In my last post, I shared with you that it has never been the will of God for anyone to be all alone. It’s his desire for us to thrive in relationships. If you didn’t get a chance to read Part One: “The Critical Importance of Godly Relationships,” please click here.
Many people retreat from relationships of any kind because they’ve been so abused in any of a multitude of ways. When I was a young boy, I was very small, had enormous buck teeth, and had thick coke-bottle glasses. I was an easy target to pick on and make fun of. By the grace of God, I didn’t retreat into isolation though I was tempted to countless time from being bullied, made fun of, picked on and so much more. I was part of a beautiful family and had some great friends. That really helped. Many people were less fortunate than me and pulled back early from wanting to be with people. Many grew up having settled with the thought, I just don’t like people! They hurt! I’d rather be alone. Because of the conveniences of technology, many people decide to stay isolated and be content in their own digital world. There are so many problems with that picture! God brings us so much love and life through people even though hurt does come through them also. And as God said, “It is not good for man (people) to be alone!”
Expectations have much to do with the dissatisfaction of relationships. People are often willing to give in a relationship, but get frustrated with what they get back in return. And this is probably the greatest reason for broken relationships that there is—disappointment of expectation of what they feel they should get back! So let me share a few thoughts that might help you change your expectations which will in turn result in less disappointment.
First of all, most people are not your friends. They are acquaintances! People can have unlimited acquaintances. Don’t consider acquaintances as relationships with expectations. Acquaintances are only people you know by sight and name and maybe know a few things about. They are valuable to our life. They can make you feel good. For example, if you walk into your local coffeeshop and they greet you by your name as you walk in, that makes you feel good. If you don’t even have to tell them what to order because they already know, that might even make you feel special. It keeps you coming back. But you really don’t know them, nor do they know you. Be kind, show the love of Jesus, but don’t have any expectations other than decent service. Acquaintances aren’t friends so don’t allow yourself to be hurt by them.
Secondly, you have peers—people you work with or for some reason do something with such as play a sport, or are in a class with. You’ll almost always have less peers than acquaintances. You might spend more time with them because of work or whatever you do with them. And you may know more about them than you do about the acquaintances in your life. But, they are not usually people you have picked as friends. They are people you are connected to by a cause or purpose such as work. So, again, keep your expectations down because though you might be familiar with each other, they aren’t close friends! They will do things to hurt you. Not intentionally, but maybe just to further their life’s personal agenda over yours. When you have low expectations, you will be hurt less.
Thirdly, there are friends—close friends. These are those you do chose because of similar likes, such as having fun together, or things you have in common like say sports, or hunting, or reading, etc. You get to know each other on a deeper level because you want to. The amount of these people in our life shouldn’t be more than what we can actually manage. Why? Because these are friends and friendship takes work. But even these people won’t know you like a book, or care about everything you do. You’ll have higher expectations from close friends, and some will meet them and some won’t. This is where you learn who your real friends are. Choose and manage these friends with love and kindness and your life will be richer. And in the appropriate cultivation of friends with appropriate expectations, you’ll find out that you generally like all people more because you are being hurt less by by them.
And finally there are what most people call best friends! They are a gift from God because the chemistry between you and them is right. You love much of the same things. You’ll like to do many of the same things. You open up your heart to these people you identify with and want to understand each other. They don’t judge you and you don’t judge them. Appreciation, love, and respect grows in this relationship. These kinds of friends are rare and hard to find. If you have any at all like this, you are blessed. If you have a few, you are really blessed. But these kinds of relationship can bring you the most joy AND the most pain because this is where you should rightly place expectations. These are people you become best friends with. These are who people marry! Because you have so few, this is where you place your greatest investment of love, sacrifice, kindness, and appreciation. This is where you overlook petty offenses. Because you only have few best friends, you can do it and do it well. It’s an investment that gets more valuable! When you keep yourself from placing expectations on acquaintances and peers, and maintain lower expectations on your close friends, the result will be, you’ll be disappointed less and like people more.
In my next post I’ll share with you what can really help you get amazing satisfaction, joy, and blessing by how you bring God into each of these relationships. You’ll see The God factor in relationships in Part Three. Today, take time to evaluate who’s who to you relationally– acquaintances, peers, close friends, and best friends and adjust your expectations accordingly.
Romans 12:18 (NIV) “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.”
In His love,
Pastor Tim Burt
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