Opt In

“…because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now. And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ” (Philippians 1:5-6, ESV).

The friendships I talked about in last week’s post didn’t just happen overnight. We didn’t magically become close enough friends to take a genuine interest in each other’s lives. It took time and it took some work. 

But Marebs, you might think, you are so suave and not socially awkward, you must just naturally attract all the coolest people to you with your winning personality and winsome humor.

I know, I know. I am as shocked as you are that humans don’t just flock to me with all their walls down begging for a healthy dose of sass, neurotic deflections, and intimacy issues.

I am slightly introverted. When I first took the Myers Briggs test as a 17-year-old high school junior, I was 100% on the introverted side of the spectrum. When I took it last year, I had moved to 93% introverted, so basically I’m a social genius now and human interaction is my bread and butter.

Nope.

It takes effort for me to leave the comfort of my home, put on something besides athleisure, and socialize. If I spend too much time around too many people, I cannot function.

Fortunately, I have found a career that gives me ample opportunity to be on my own, read good books, and be creative. However, I have to make sure I balance it with good conversation, good meals with others, and all that social stuff. Otherwise I get all in my head and neurotic and stunted. If I don’t have friends to check my logic, I can convince myself of all sorts of crazy things. Just ask my therapist. Though if you did, joke would be on you because confidentiality

I’ve been thinking a lot about that phrase Paul uses, “from the first day until now.” All of my closest friends, and yours, started out as mere acquaintances. How did that growth happen? With some people we hit it off immediately, and with others it takes some time to grow on each other. But regardless, most friendships reach a point where they continue to deepen or they taper off.

You may or may not know that I spent eleven months on a mission trip called The World Race. During that year, my teammates and I spent a month in eleven different countries in some questionable living situations. The hardest part by far, and I think most of my teammates would agree, was living with each other. For safety reasons, we had to be around each other all the time. We didn’t have phones or wifi to use as a distraction. We just had each other. We had to choose in or be completely miserable.

Sometimes we were completely miserable, to be honest. I remember in Thailand, it was my friend Stephanie’s birthday, and someone decided what we really needed to do was get up at 7am and roam the streets of Changmai looking for waffles. I had a terrible head cold at the time, and I don’t function at that hour of the morning when I’m at full health. I spent the entire quest for waffles (which failed, by the way, because apparently the Thai people are wise enough to not be awake at that hour, and if they are, they aren’t making waffles) acting like a two-year-old. I’m not kidding. It was a full on temper tantrum. On my sweet friend’s birthday. When we returned from our failed mission, I quite literally stomped upstairs back to bed. #BlessedToBeABlessing

There were countless moments where we had to keep choosing each other that, in normal America life, we would have walked away. It can feel like there are always better options at our fingertips. But sometimes you need to stick it out because something sweet is around the corner. Sometimes you do need to walk away, and we’ll talk about this specifically later in the series. But there is a difference between a toxic relationship and one that hits a rough patch.

I can tell you with complete certainty that I am better for opting in. And I like to think my friends feel the same way about me. I just need to remember that when it’s time to meet new people and Netflix is calling…

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