THOUGHTS OF A FRUITCAKE: By Carolyn Aldis
So, having recently heard a message at church about relationships, I have been thinking about my friendships.
We were encouraged to take a little time this week to put our friends in circles, the inner circle starting with our closest friends and then every circle around it having friendships of decreasing depth in them.
I was surprised to find that I have very few friends in my inner circle…these are the friends that love me for who I am and who I trust with any concerns I have, without judgement.
The next circle is filled with the friends who share my values and beliefs.
Next it’s those I see occasionally, catching up on our news and chatting about shared interests. I have friends on Facebook that I am close to and some I barely know…the same with my followers on Twitter, so I have to be wise as to what I share on these sites.
The speaker reminded us that there’s some Biblical proverbs about how we become like the people we hang around with. Looking back at my teenage years, I can see how this is true.
When I was friends with a particularly “bad girl”, I did things I would never have done without her influence. I did things because “she told me to”. I went to the pub with her, met a guy neither of us knew and then took him back to my parents’ house while they were away, just because she wanted to sit up all night talking to him – I had to drive him home the next day. I spent all my time with her, supported her as her mother lay dying of cancer, took her wherever she wanted to go and bought her gifts…she repaid me by stealing all of my Nan’s jewellery, promised to me since I was a child, when I had been foolish enough to show her it. Because she denied it and was grieving, I chose to put it down to experience.
Around the same time, I had a couple of friends who loved and supported me for who I was. When I set up my own business running children’s parties, they came with me, dressed up as a clown…you can’t get a much deeper friendship than that.
Negative relationships - often referred to as toxic - will undeniably start to have an impact on us. This isn’t about occasional negative interactions; we all have those, no matter how deep the friendship. But if you meet up with someone and they are using flattery and cajoling speech to get what they want, or constantly dampening your optimism or criticising the way you do everything, then barriers need putting in place to protect yourself.
I recommend you making your own circle test…it’s very revealing as well as focusing on the positives of having really good friendships. What makes a good friend? Somebody who “gets you”, who sees you at your worst and still loves you, cries with laughter at the silliest of things and stands with you when you face tough times…even if it means dressing up as a clown.
Let Christianity show its colour