Casual, unnacountable, simple acquaintances, like an annoying coworker or a neighbor that is amicable but not your age or "group".
Short-lived, impacting, temporary connections, like someone passing through your church or a friend-of-a-friend you had a blast with one night.
Deep, long lasting, purposeful friendships that you would hate to lose, like your high school soul mate or weekly coffee date.
The classification is usually obvious. Hopefully the same interpretation on either side of the exchange. But sometimes there could be more. At times the ebb and flow of an affiliation just is, and no attention is payed to the potential bond. Other times it is clear there is a connection, something in common, and a realization that there could, just maybe, be more. Then life gets in the way. Busy. Sick. Pre-occupied. And so it happens-- a budding friendship is put on halt. Planted but never watered. Left to wilt.
Maybe because I live in a small town this happens more often. Maybe it is a phenomenon eveywhere. But people I want to get to know more keep moving. And I am left kicking myself over the missed opportunity. Again. I made somewhat of an effort to spend more time with someone that I enjoyed. And when they moved I was determined that in the future I would aspire to be more involved with the next person who strikes my fancy. But I keep running into the same situation.
It isn't anyone's fault. Yet our "nice" society doesn't make it any easier.
"We should get together for coffee!"
Does either one really mean that? I was contemplating that if we were more honest we could weed out those never-even-a-chance relationships and spend more time getting aquainted with the real possibilities. Would you like to go for a walk sometime? No, I don't like walking and I would like it even less in your company. Uh oh. That brings up an unfriendly visual.
In all reality, some great bonds have started on the wrong foot, some enriching connections have occured with people who didn't at first seem to have anything to offer. Strong attachments often required quite a push to get going. If we instantly disregarded opening up to people who gave us a reason to close ourselves off, then we would miss some of the best opportunities (Oh the thought of how common this tragedy occurs! Misunderstandings. Bad days. Guilty by association).
Therefore, we are left with this arduous task of initiating deeper ties that sometimes backfires. Sometimes it hurts. On occasion we just don't bother thinking any exchange is worth expanding upon.
They can pop out of anywhere. Work, school, church, exercise groups, the bar, the hairdresser. I have some wonderful friendships that span what seem to be too wide of age gap. I spend time with some people who only connect with me in certain areas. My snowshoeing/ hiking buddies. My chatty time gals. But that is why I am not like a school age girl wanting a bestest bff to talk about everything and hang out with every day. I don't want to sound critical, but I think I would have trouble finding anyone who would fit that bill. Just look at my marriage. I didn't let someone in forever until I was 29.
Possibly this means nothing to you. You don't struggle with choosing which friendly voices to give more time because you don't have any casual relationships to develop. Or maybe you just hate people. But if you put aside differences, if you let go of fears, if you put yourself out there, you may discover some growth.
Relationships really stretch people. The very reason some people avoid them. But the best reason to keep plugging along. You can read a million books. Take a plethora of schooling. Travel the world. But personal advancement doesn't occur along the way without another person. Plain and simple.
And the deeper you let it delve the more opportunities for your mind to expand. Opinions to be tested. Beliefs to be questioned (or solidified). Different ways of doing things to be discovered (my husband has sure tested my extensive list of oddities). Walls breaking down. Lives being enriched.
I would still be a neurotic, obsessive compulsive worrier if I didn't have relationships to push me out of the box. Like my fear of raw meat being intentionally pushed by a friend who ATE some in front of me. I wouldn't enjoy many of the foods I eat (not raw meat, by the way) or activities I love without people in my life who introduced me to them. I wouldn't be writing if I didn't meet friends and family who put themselves out there. I know growing hurts sometimes, but I can say first hand as an ex-panicky-depressed-stressed person that man, life has more! Give me opportunities to grow! So worth it!
I encourage you to look at your life. How much time do you spend with others? How many people do you let in? How much do those people challenge you?
I will continue to try to build relationships. And I'll ask God to help me see which ones to follow after because there are just too many possibilities and not enough time.
Would you like to go for coffee?