Dear Catie…
Making friends can be hard, can’t it?
I understand. It’s hard for me too.
Like me, you are good at the initial meeting of people. You ask them lots of questions about themselves. Right away, you like other people. You want them to like you. They do like you.
The next step of friendship, the IT IS SO FUN TO BE FRIENDS stage, also comes easily for you. You ask me to organize playdates, you make up secret handshakes, you exchange phone numbers. I don’t totally get this one, but you always create a secret language with your new best friend.
It’s the next step, the true commitment step, that’s hard for you. Me too, kiddo.
Because, even though you want to have best friends who sleep over every weekend and call you every night, you can’t commit to someone who doesn’t agree with you one-hundred-percent.
This year, your two best friends didn’t agree with your faith, specifically about Jesus. You insisted He was your Savior; these girls were not buying it.
Not believing the same thing soured your friendship with them. You insisted they believe exactly what you did; they insisted you to drop it. You felt self-rightous (although you didn’t use that word), and they felt judged. You resented them and cut them out of your life. Until the next time you needed a friend.
You and me talked about this almost every single night. One day you would report, “Today my friends wanted to hear more about Jesus! I think it’s working!”and the next night you would say, “They told me they don’t want to play with me anymore.” You were sad and frustrated and looking for a solution.
Every night I struggled to give you advice. One voice in my mind, the loudest voice, wanted to congratulate you on your evangelism. “You go, girl! Keep it up! Don’t lose that ‘Jesus loves you’ spirit! Jesus is your Savior. Believing that is ALL THAT MATTERS!”
But another voice wanted to tell you that your expectations of your friends might be too high. Their parents had taught them something different about Jesus, and it was a big struggle for them to change that. Not believing in Jesus wasn’t personal against you. They were confused. Constantly reminding them they were not living up to your expectations made them walk away. That can be lonely, can’t it?
I wish I could tell you that I’ve learned how to lower my expectations of other people. I have not. I’m lonely a lot of times because of it. When someone does something to disappoint me, I obsess about it. I hold a grudge for way too long. I distance myself from them and hope they learn their lesson. I take everything personally.
This is a terrible way to be a friend. My neck and shoulders are in knots right now because I’m holding grudges against so many people who have let me down. My pride is keeping me from friend happiness and from true friendships.
So, how about we both try this?
We will both try to remind our friends about what we think is right. We will remind them not to say, “Oh, my God” (your pet peeve) and not to complain constantly (my pet peeve).
But let’s dial down the judgement a little bit. Grudges and constant criticism are the best ways to turn people off. Let’s share our opinions, but let’s do it with love.
I think that’s what Jesus would want us to do anyway, don’t you?

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