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Thursday, July 05, 2007

investing in friendships

Someone once disagreed with me on that term: to invest in something meant that you hoped to get a return on your investment. How could one use the term 'investment' on friendships?

A debatable issue, but not my point of contention at the moment. Whichever way, it means putting in heart, time, money and effort.

- Effort is my biggest stumbling block.

I am so tired and lacklustre, and I am a homebody. Plus I have a bit of a one-track mind like a guy. Read: I hardly like to go out, people tire me out; I would rather be at home relaxing. And when I work I hardly think of much else.

And some are not really worth being called E's friends anymore.

I might have really high standards for my friends, I probably scare people away, and maybe intentionally too. Actually all I ask for, is for people to understand me and love me the same, to need me and respect my point of view. Which the people who are my friends, fiercely do. These are really base things - who wants friends who do not understand them, loves them only during good times, moves on without them, and thrashes their viewpoints aside? Makes perfect sense, ain't it.

Recently my boss made a statement. She finds herself closer to the people at work than she does to those in her cell group at church. Since I work in a Christian organisation, both cultures are Christian, hence, it is not a religious issue we are comparing about.

I completely agreed with her on that point, because I feel the same way too. We tell the people at work, that to us, work is our ministry, our job is a calling. And these people, our colleagues, supposed mere work-mates, will completely understand, because they feel the same way. People who don't understand are simply caught up with other things. To them, ministry is in church, work is just 'working to please God'. When I mention a career change to these church-mates, it is just that - a career change. But it is not. It is a breaking process. I only share that much, and the people I work with in the same office, will agree - one will call it 'surrendering', the other will use my own words and agree with me on them.

Actually my church-mates' lack of understanding was something I thought was my fault, for a long time. Being an anti-social who hardly trusts anyone enough to confide, I felt it was me who had to change, in order for me to belong to the group once again. So I tried, and failed by my standards, walking away extremely hurt even by the smallest of gestures, to the point it seemed almost unbelievable. It isn't their fault either, so it was mine, I thought.

Then one night a long time back, I shared this stumbling block with my colleague, and she said, "Don't you think there is something wrong with this picture? Your church is supposed to be your support network." Et cetera. All true. Church is like a spiritual family. Just like friends, guilds, etc, are your social networks. "But, it is me who has to change, to open up, right? Why is it when I try, I get hurt so badly, even though they do nothing wrong?"

But when I give her more background information, like, how I prayed for God to send me for two church mission trips last year, and I ended up only going for one, she says to me, that, combined with everything else I said, is a sign that this is no longer a place for me. It is not my fault. It is just His way of showing me the next part of the journey. I don't think she has any malicious intent when she says so.

I refused to see things her way completely, at first. It may not seem so to some, but I am the faithful and committed sort. I don't make big decisions flippantly. But, though this has taken me long enough, I have decided to adopt her point of view. It agrees with me, and makes sense now. Time to re-invest.

As for me, what can I change, and still be me? A disastrous question to ask. I don't think I should blame myself anymore for being the way I am. I will however, take more effort to appreciate the people I have around me, new and old alike.