Real Friendships. Do you have them?
I was reading “Rethink Your Self” by Trevin Wax, and I was struck by something he wrote.
“Today, the aspirational side of friendship has slipped. Friendships that involve truth-telling falter fast. We are told that a true friend accepts you as you are and celebrates you as you are, full stop. True friends don’t just accept your warts and flaws; they’re supposed to celebrate them (or at least never mention them). A true friend supports whatever individual journey of self-discovery you may be on… Our friendships also become shallower because they get reduced to constant praise of someone’s self-display and self-expression. Friendships have degenerated into the thumbs-up sign on a social media platform.
Do you see the conflict? We yearn to become better, to grow, and to get feedback from others. In other words, we do want to be judged. We want to get better. But at the same time, we want to be affirmed. We want to stay the same. We want to be declared “good” just as we are, but we also want to be called to something better. And when these desires run up against each other, our friendships fail, and after a while, some people-rather than display themselves-decide to disappear. The Relentless quest for both self-acceptance and self Perfection leads some people to retreat and consider starting over.”
How often am I guilty of this? How often do I desire growth only up to the point of my comfort? How often do I declare I want feedback when in reality, I just want affirmation? How often do I take a truth spoken to me and call it an attack? Let’s be honest; the truth hurts because it exposes sin that is clinging to our identities at all costs. It is why Proverbs analogy in 27:17 is so spot-on, “As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend.” That is what it feels like to receive feedback sometimes. It feels like parts of you are being scraped off because that is precisely what is happening! The question is, do we allow the sharpening to take place, or do we accept the dullness and imperfections as just a part of our identity? Now, I will point out that it does say a “friend sharpens a friend.” We need to know the source that our feedback is coming from and that not all assessments may be 100% truth. However, I will venture to say that there is a kernel of truth in every criticism from a friend and even from a foe. What you do with that kernel is entirely up to you, but I feel like, for me personally, too much is at stake to remain dull and jaded!