Tuesday, August 26, 2008

FRIENDS ARE FEW AND FAR BETWEEN

I've had to come to some tough realizations this last 4 months or so about friends and this post is more vulnerable than feels safe to me... but here goes:


1. Ministry feels lonelier than ever. I have very few close friendships with men my age. Seminary is both a hard and weird place to build friends. Youth pastor network meetings are not filled with men who wear their need for friendship on their shirt sleeve (myself included) and this is only complicated by sporadic attendance by many of them. In my church, very few of my peers want to involve themselves with a teenager, they have their own jobs and kids to contend with- so I don't have many men my age I serve with.

2. I am a slow builder of deep friendships. They come over time, need to have a natural feel, and it's hard to feel safe with someone who will simply love you, faults and all. (especially as a pastor living in a 2500 person fish bowl we call the church) This is complicated by past wounds in ways I'm only partly aware of I'm sure.

3. I have some "peer friends" on our street, but no one I can open my life up to over a cup of coffee or a beer in my back yard. It's just casual friendships.

4. Over time, either myself or my friends move. Almost all of my deepest friendships, from college onward, even many of the ones I've tried to start here in the last 4 years, have in one way or another moved on. All of my really deep friendships are living not minutes, but hours or even days from here. Distance has complicated things that technology cannot solve.

5. I think I really need a mens and/or a couples small group. I've tried to start one a few times with a few couples in our church, but our schedules end up clashing and it becomes impractical. There are some existing small groups, but they are not easily broken into and it also requires someone who not only I feel safe with, but Shannon as well.

6. Financially, a couples small group costs me close to $20 a week in child care unless we can find a time and place where we can pool that resource. That adds up fast. I think I have to budget for this need.

7. I need to deal with this issue this year. I'm trying to put together a group of guys who, might even travel from across states to meet up. I think I still need some weekly stuff. This is not a "drama filled" process like some sorta hold over from teenage life, it's a soul level reality I need to wrestle with this year I think.

8. I wish I had a brother. No offense to my sister or my wife. I just hope my sons realize what a treasure they have in brothers. I pray they grow up to be tight friends. I hope they travel across states to hang out once year as adults- with or without me.

9. I have a lot of soul searching to do in this area. Some say leadership roles are lead by lonely people. I'm not buying that- I think it's a load of crap someone is using to cover up their own pain. I'm sure I'm a BIG part of the problem and it might take some tears to shake the truth out of hiding. Maybe this is part of my pruning. I hope they come from someone who loves me and not from the wounds of someone who is hurt or angry.

10. The hardest question to truly wrestle with in all of this: "Who considers me to be a deep and close friend?"

"Friends come and friends go, but a true friend sticks by you like family." Proverbs 18:24 (The message) Lord help me to live with and be that kind of friend.

11 comments:

Angela Yee 10:35 PM  

Brian,

Thanks for your transparency... I just want to let you know your post came at a good time, as I am going through the exact same thing (except from a woman in ministry point of view).

I agree ministry is lonely, being a leader is lonely, and we all have our stuff to go through that God uses to prune us.

But it is tough...and so I just wanted to let you know in a way you are not alone... because there are others (like me) who are struggling with the same thing!

Amy Taylor 11:00 PM  

While I don't consider myself a "leader" per se, I am somewhat alone in my yearning to leave this world. Not easy to have deep friendships when I'm trying to rid myself of the mundane & petty that seem to be the center of most mom's my age lives. Did that make sense?
So I am acutely aware that it is me, not them. A bit lonely for now, I suppose.
Is it selfish to not want to take the risk or make the investment?


Thanks for sharing Brian. You are not alone in your loneliness.

Summer 12:54 AM  

if i were your age, and a man, (hah) and not your student, i would be there for you, and i would listen to you.


but i know that for those reasons, all i can do is say that i would. and that i care.

so what if it sounds cheesy.

you really mean a lot.

boarderdudet 7:59 PM  

love you friend.
miss you too.

Ed Noble 9:15 PM  

What am I chopped liver?

Ed

brian c. berry 12:19 AM  

Nope,

I don't like chopped liver...

Becky 6:41 AM  

Hey Brian,
Great post. I know you are not alone in the friend thing. It's a hard subject for me to navigate as well. I wish I had a sister. It's hard to risk being vulnerable. Anyway, thanks for sharing. I know Gregg & I consider you and Shannon great friends.

stephen,  10:09 AM  

I completely understand your post...it is especially harder for Men in this area, I think to form real friendships after you reach a certain age. Your post help articulate a hunger that I have felt and I know my wife has as well. I read your post yesterday, and was moved, but early this morning it came back to me and I want you to know that I am praying for you and for movement mine included). You ahve touched on a real need...the need to form friendships througout our lives...

linda brangwynne,  6:03 PM  

Yeah, it's really hard to get to a place that allows us to be vulnerable with a friend, but so worth it over the course of our lives. There are friends we can hang out with, and enjoy good company and conversation; and then there are the few more precious and rare deep friendships that are far more elusive. I tend to think of these close friendships almost more like art or music, in terms of both the way I am drawn and interact. There is a sense of connection there that is more than enjoying similar interests - and a level of sharing, caring and acceptance that touches the core of who we really are. Close friends journey with us, support us and challenge us. When that connection is rooted in a place of godliness and love, our lives are enhanced beyond measure. I think there is probably some significance to the face-to-face nature in this level of friendship, which requires both time to build and intentionality to cultivate. A question I struggle with is what kind of friend am I, really, to others that I truly care about?

Amy Taylor 11:52 PM  

I think Linda Brangwynne should write a book. So eloquent with her words.
And yes, I do need to re-evaluate what kind of friend I am to those I truly care about.
Thanks for the insight.

The Johnston Family 12:48 PM  

Hugs to you our Treasured Friend. Love ya.

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San Diego, CA
Husband. Dad. Jesus Follower. Friend. Learner. Athlete. Soccer coach. Reader. Builder. Dreamer. Pastor. Communicator. Knucklehead.

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