Have you ever heard the phrase “when people show you who they are, believe them?” It makes so much sense, doesn’t it? It even appeals to the idea of seeing is believing. But do we follow that logic? Is it easier said than done? Man, I just used a whole lot of catch phrases, didn’t I? Let’s unpack this topic further.
It’s taken me awhile to attach a descriptive name to something a lot of people (maybe everyone) struggles with in some form. The “something” is friendship poverty. There are people who desperately want to have good friends, but attract the wrong people. Maybe they lack the tools in their toolbox to have socially healthy relationships. Maybe they have a pattern of abuse in their life. While it’s a very real issue, it’s not the angle I’m going to tackle in this post.
There are also folks who have lots of acquaintances, but never really get beyond the surface. Friendship poverty for them is a result of not being able to dig deep and invest emotionally in friendship. Sometimes this happens because someone has hurt them deeply and they are protective of themselves. Another very real issue that we’ll tackle in the future.
Today I want to talk about the result of real or perceived friendship poverty. When we either really do lack friends or we just feel like we lack friends (remember….perception is reality to your subconscious mind) it can have devastating effects on our mental and emotional health. We can make choices which simply are not good for us at best or completely devastating at worst.
When we feel this lack, we often allow people to stay in our lives well past their expiration dates. We can feel this deep desire to keep them in our lives, in any capacity, without a thought of how it affects us. In the worst of scenarios, we may even blame ourselves for their poor behavior toward us.
****At this point I feel the need to say this is NOT a post about marriage. I loved the way my friend Paul (the pastor at Relevant Church in Tampa) said it during his last series. There is a difference between a committed and a covenant relationship. Friendships can be committed. Marriage is a covenant. I’m happy to chat with you if you are confused or struggling with the difference.****
I’m going to get a little personal for a minute. Hang with me, okay? My parents are gone. My Dad has been gone six years now. My Mom has been gone a little over a year. May their memories be eternal. As an only child, it leaves me with….well….no one rooting my family tree. I’m now the surviving trunk, if you will.
My parents were not close to the extended parts of the family….sometimes for darn good reasons, to be honest. I have a few uncles and aunts left. I have some cousins. None of us are really even in touch. Sometimes we don’t even see each other at funerals. I have first cousins that I have not seen in years and could not pick out of a police lineup. They could be dead or in jail and I would have no clue.
The lack of family can cause me to sort of draw into folks I might view as surrogate family. Do I “need” a surrogate family? Nope! I have a sweet husband and some pretty darned great kids. Furthermore, I know that I know that I know God provides all I need all on His own and my husband and kids are His abundant grace poured out. But the truth is, it’s nice to have a parent to call on when life gets tricky.
I point out this area in myself because it is a place where I can allow someone to linger too long. Do you have places like that? Maybe you have rocky relationships with siblings and look for a sort of “replacement.” Or perhaps you never had a “Diana” to your “Anne.” (Anne of Green Gables reference.) Whatever the spot of perceived lack, it’s good to take a hard look once in awhile and make sure you are recognizing it so that it doesn't become a stumbling block.
Let me take another quick moment and tell you that having friends who are willing to tell you hard truths are GOOD FOR YOU. Auditing those friends out of your life because you do not enjoy hearing truth isn’t the answer. But when it becomes detrimental to your wellbeing, controlling, or even abusive....it's time to get rid of them!
How do you know when it’s time to audit them out of your life? Turns out I have a tool for just that process! I developed it after seeing many of my friends keep repeating patterns in their lives that were not for their good. I’d love to share it with you!
Just click right here and request it. I’ll send it right over!
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