The Friendship Lottery
Most people I know are hoping to strike it rich in the area of friends. “No. That one didn’t work. Cross him off the list!” People often gamble that this will be “the one” and lose.
I teach a trust lifestyle. The person going into the trust lifestyle has to know ahead of time that he is going to lose—now and then. But that is much better than losing virtually all of the time. Lottery winners are rare. To play the friendship lottery has an almost certain outcome of losing. When we pin our hopes on a particular person, we are setting up the conditions where we will lose. When two people are thinking about dating, I often say, “You are not ready to be married until you are ready to be single the rest of your life.”
Why would I say that? The man or woman who desperately needs a spouse is putting the kind of pressure on that relationship that will almost certainly cause it to fail. If a person has the kind of relationship with God and with others that he or she can handle life with or without marriage, the pressure that is put on the marriage will be much less. The chances of that relationship being successful are much greater.
The same is true of friendships. If a person is skeptical of a particular person … or skeptical of relationships in general … it puts a ton of pressure on that relationship. Just about any little thing can or will be justification to pull back to a lower level of intimacy. No real connection. No chance of a quality friendship. The friendship lottery.
I believe in something different. I believe in the power of spiritual flows. I believe that if I give out good things, there is a good chance that I will get good things back. For me to live this lifestyle, I have to know and accept ahead of time that I am going to get burned by people. I can’t face being burned unless I know that God will be there to help me through any pain. I don’t approach friendship hoping or even needing to receive. I initially approach to give the love of God. That takes a lot of pressure off of relationships in general.
Every human being responds out of his own heart. To put it simply, we are all selfish. We all respond more according to what is going on inside of us than we do to another person. From what I said in the last paragraph, I try to respond according to what God would want me to do, but that is not my first response. My first response is almost always instinctively selfish.
A love lifestyle means that I take those selfish responses captive. If I followed my own impulses, I would protect me. Protecting me puts pressure on relationships. Protecting me has a good chance of causing the very pain I am hoping to avoid.
If I am to live the trust lifestyle, I have to know that the other person will probably respond selfishly. There are a few who are “spiritual” who will consistently respond loving. There are a few evil people who will consistently respond hateful. Most people fall somewhere in the middle. They will respond according to the trigger that comes their way—whether good or bad.
I believe in the power of what I give out (Luke 6:38). If I don’t get knocked around by a person’s negative response or his distrust, and if I keep giving out a message of love and acceptance, the vast majority of people will respond well. I work with addicts. I work with broken people who no longer believe in relationship. Yet, I have great friendships with the majority of them. I don’t put unrealistic pressure on the relationships. I love them. They love me back. Because so many of them are loved by so few, the love they give back can be pretty amazing!
So many people I know are hoping to find the right person who is trustworthy. They are playing the friendship lottery. And they lose frequently. So they stop playing—for a while. Till they are absolutely starving for relationship and then they roll the dice again.
I believe in the power of what flows through me. When I die to self on a consistent basis—when I squash the fears within me of getting burned and show love and acceptance, most of the time I get an amazing response back. That is, I get an amazing response back if I am able to absorb those times of crazy selfishness that blast out of others and would try to destroy the friendship.
Everyone responds out of his own heart. When there is a negative blast, why do we take it personally? When we take it personally, an offense rises up and the friendship goes down. Everyone responds according to what is inside of him in combination with the triggers coming at him. If we refuse to take a negative personally and instead take it in stride, the next set of responses from the “hateful” person can be very good!
Most people want to know that you are safe. That you can love them at their worst. When you are able to do that, I’d say at least 90% will love you back—90% of the time. There are the 10% who will never love you back. Do yourself a favor and don’t put those 10% in your inner circle! For the 90% who might possibly love you back, they still have their 10% (or more!) of negative behaviors. You have to be able to handle their ugly part if you want to build your base of friends.
My advice? Stop waiting for the right person to come along as a friend and be the right person. The friendship lottery is a loser. The
one who loves like a friend will win! Proverbs 18:24a says, “A man who has friends must himself be friendly” (NKJV).