As a single man in his mid-forties, I lead a pretty blessed life. I have been actively walking with Christ for over thirty years now and have followed Him across three continents and seven or eight countries. I enjoy my work, I am active in my local Church, I am financially stable and I own my own home. I can look back on years of wonderful friendships with healthy, God-honoring, people. For all these blessings, however, I still struggle with trust, particularly in the area of personal friendships. Looking back on the dear friends I have known, the brothers and sisters in Christ who have been such a rich blessing in my life, it seems ridiculous that I would be so hesitant to open my life wide to new friends or that I would still be so afraid of rejection.
If you have been living on this planet for very long, the chances are very good that you have been hurt and disappointed by someone you trusted. Single adults, it would seem, get more than their fair share. Almost by definition, whatever relationships we might have had in the past, didn’t work out. Each of those disappointments, each relational failure, lives in our memory like an old bruise. A tender spot in our emotions, they warn us to be careful, to be ‘safe’ and not let someone hurt us again. They would teach us to isolate ourselves and accept that the pain of loneliness is better than the pain of relationship.
Christ, however, did not call us to live in isolation. So I stay involved in church, and I try to get to know the people in my small group. In spite of the nervousness, I continue to build new friendships. In my experience, the answer to escaping isolation, being vulnerable, and trusting other people is not about believing that other people are trustworthy. They’re not. People are fallen, and even the most sincere friend will eventually disappoint you. No, learning to trust others begins with knowing that their betrayal can never hurt what Christ can’t heal, and they can never take what Christ can’t restore. It is learning that Christ has called me to love in spite of risk and that He will carry me through the inevitable hurt that comes with being a friend. Secure in the love of Christ, I can enjoy the blessings, and sacrifice, of friendship.
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