Daily Proverbial, 1 September 2011

Seldom set foot in your neighbor’s house – too much of you and he will hate you. Proverbs 25, verse 17.

True confession here: for a guy who wears his heart on his sleeve (or on a blog and email), I don’t make friends easily. I really don’t. My way is to be social, bragging, and sometimes over the top. Those are insecure manifestations hiding the fact that I don’t open up to people easily. I could tell you on one hand the number to whom I really, truly open up. The Good Lord has blessed me to know hundreds of people in this world, but there have been very, very few to whom I intimated the closest details of my life.

Part of the reason for that is that I don’t want to be the kind of friend who is always down your throat. I don’t want to be constantly in someone’s place, on their case, or in their living room. Privacy is something I value, and I value the ability to respect others’. Even so, I’ll also confess to a bit of envy of my daughter, who can make twenty friends in an empty room. All summer long it was frustrating – and heartening – that friends of hers would come to the house at all hours of the day so they could spend time together. Yes, I HATED when they showed up at 11 PM and I was up after that, but I’m glad they cared enough to do that, and that she can make friends so easily.

But the biggest reason is that I worry that if I’m around too much, I’ll smother them. I don’t like the kind of friend who constantly is barraging your inbox with messages or texts; there have been times and people to whom I’ve done that, and it isn’t a caring thing: it’s insecurity, and that isn’t how friendship or love performs. I don’t like to be the guy who is clingy, who is the Dave-cellophane wrapping you up so you can’t breathe. It makes me feel uncomfortable to yield myself to too many people, so I sometimes find myself holding my cards very close because I don’t want to play them in too many poker games. In this, though I didn’t know it, I heed the words of the proverb. That is a good thing.

And yet, I have to say, I want to have the kind of friendships and relationships where you can show up at my place and we can sit and talk for hours if we so choose. It would be wonderful to get a call saying “meet me at Y and let’s have a beer;” it would be even more wonderful to make those calls myself, so I’m letting God work on my insecurities. I relish the times when neighbors come up to the front patio and we just chat. And just this week, I found myself very privileged to talk for hours about things and relationships and getting through this thing called life with the best people you’ll meet anywhere.

I value those times because they don’t happen very often. I don’t like to plop myself down on somebody’s couch very often and chat just because, but thank God He presents those opportunities to do so every now and then. It sometimes makes me uncomfortable to reach out to someone to talk, to get things off my chest, but thank God he puts people and telephones in our lives to do that when we are so moved. It’s hard to ask for help or reach out when I need someone, but thank God he even puts people in our lives to whom we can reach. And it can hurt to open yourself up, to really bare your soul and let in the healing light, but thank God He gives us both His encouraging word and His energizing Spirit that let us forge relationships and keep them strong. Listening to Him, we can know when to open the bottle of wine and pour another glass to chat, to pick up the phone and talk for a couple of hours, or to sit back and listen when someone says “hey, do you have a minute.” Listening to Him, we can know, too, when to smile and say “see ya tomorrow” and know with a smile in our hearts that good friends and love in your heart are only a thought away.

Thank God for that because we need it. We really do. I really do. Perhaps Benjamin Franklin segued off the verse when he said that “fish and visitors stink after three days.” I love the times we’re privileged to spend together, especially if we haven’t seen each other in awhile and we do some catching up. Like you, I also love some space, and the opportunity to unpack our other times and be real too in that way. It’s okay if we go for years and don’t see each other. We can be privileged to let those absences make our hearts actually grow closer and then cherish the times we get to re-connect. I’ll love you for who you are, period, and be thankful we get to be in each others’ lives whether it’s every day or every few months. When we finally do get to look deeply into each others’ eyes, it’ll make the moments even more special. That’s a work in progress for an insecure North Texan, but thank God for His tender mercies that make it even possible.

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