There is a story about a man who returns home from a day of golfing. His wife asks how the day went and he responds that it went well, except that Fred passed out on the second hole. The man’s wife looked scared and asked “oh my goodness! Is Fred OK?”. “Yes he’s fine”, replied the husband, “but it was such a bother. Every hole it was hit the ball, drag Fred. Hit the ball, drag Fred”.
So often we are unwilling to let go of our expectations. We drag them around with us even though it makes the situation harder than it has to be. We have expectations for almost everything in our lives; how our jobs will be, how our holiday meals will turn out, how our date with the cute guy from math class will go, how our spring break vacation will go, and a million other things. Yet for me, I find myself creating expectations most often for my friends, and for how our friendships will be.
For a variety of reasons, I have a hard time letting relationships, especially friendships, go. I want to be a good friend, a great friend, and I want to be able to be that forever. I don’t know if it’s a blessing or a curse, but it’s definitely something that has come to my attention in recent years. The golden rule says to do unto others as you would have them do unto you. But I have a hard time drawing the line at where I continue to be a friend regardless of the other person’s willingness to also be a friend. A real friendship requires two people, but shouldn’t I still be kind and be good even if it isn’t reciprocated?
I’m most surely not the prime example of how to show love to others. My sarcastic nature can often come off to people as a bit mean if they don’t know me. But I do try to show love to those in my life through the ways I know how. I don’t always know what words to say to help someone through something, but I can always listen. I will drive however far away in order to be with someone when they need it. I will give up extra study time, or a soccer game, or anything of that nature, because a person to be loved is often more important than anything else I could be doing. As I began to try harder over the last couple of years to express my love for my friends in both word and deed, I often became frustrated when those same things weren’t reciprocated. My expectations of how they should act were based on what I was willing to do for them, and if they didn’t show love for me in the same ways, it was as if they didn’t show it at all.
One day I came across a quote that changed my perspective on this very topic that I was struggling with. The unknown author said “Just because somebody doesn’t love you the way you want them to, doesn’t mean they don’t love you with all they have”. Holy cow. How often was I limiting the love I could have been receiving simply because I was unwilling to accept the type of love they were trying to give me? When I returned to Utah for the months of August and September, I felt that I got the most out of the friendships that I had there. I saw different friends on a consistent basis, was being invited to attend more events, and I felt loved. Learning to let people love me however they choose to do so is hard, but dragging around my expectations of how they should love me is even harder. Maybe our bestfriends are only our bestfriends for a time, and maybe that hilarious guy from my intramurals team won’t want to be my friend, and maybe I will lose other friends. But maybe that’s OK.
It is important to be brave, to be kind, and to love. But it is also important to stop dragging Fred. He can show up in our lives in many different ways. As we let go, our arms will be rested, our eyes will be opened, and the beauty of what life really is will be so exhilarating. My favorite poet, Tyler Knott Gregson wrote:
We are half people and we will stay half people until we stop wishing for wishes that have already been granted.
And I would add, perhaps we will stay half people until we learn to live our lives for what they truly are.