The Search for Spiritual Friendship (6): Caring

In my friendships, I’ve always wanted people to care about me more.

It’s a thing I feel often. I guess what ends up happening is that my life isn’t as exciting as other friends’ – I’m not changing the world or meeting the love of my life – so people tend not to care much about what’s happening with me.

This realization has made me want to have friends who care about what I’m doing/care to hear me randomly talk for hours about things that are interesting to me.

There are two problems with this desire: (1) it makes friendship dependent upon who has the most awesome stories about their recent life and (2) it allows me to be a recipient but doesn’t require me to give.

First off, friendship isn’t just an exchange of life’s most interesting stories. It is that, but it’s also more than that. It’s sharing in the mundane things too. It’s reminiscing about shared experiences. It’s introducing someone else to their new favorite thing. It’s finding things in common. It’s discovering interesting differences. It’s meshing on more than just a surface level. Some of my most awkward conversations have been ones centered around the most interesting event from my or someone else’s life. When I think about the discussions I have with close friends, I recall that they start off from this point but they don’t end there. They go further, deeper.

The second point is connected to the first. The times I’ve felt most connected to a friend was when I felt like they deeply cared about me as a person. This doesn’t happen much because most people don’t deeply care about me as a person (no knock on them, just, statistically speaking, the vast majority of people don’t care deeply about me). There’s a C.S. Lewis quote that I recently heard about this:

To even get near [humility], even for a moment, is like a drink of cold water to a man in a desert.

Do not imagine that if you meet a really humble man he will be what most people call “humble” nowadays: he will not be a sort of greasy, smarmy person, who is always telling you that, of course, he is nobody.

Probably all you will think about him is that he seemed a cheerful, intelligent chap who took a real interest in what you said to him.

If you do dislike him it will be because you feel a little envious of anyone who seems to enjoy life so easily. He will not be thinking about humility: he will not be thinking about himself at all.

I’m not a huge C.S. Lewis groupie but this quote is so good! I especially like the third and fourth lines.

I’ve met people “who took a real interest” in what I had to said to them, but only ever a few. In fact, the person who introduced me to this quote, the host of the women’s group I attend, is one of them. I’ve met another person like this as well, and it’s so refreshing to hang out with her (like a drink of cold water in a desert!).

Instead of looking for this in others, I want to give this to people. I know I’m not always the most caring person and I’m certainly not the first person you’d consider when talking about humility. But imagine how freeing it must be to genuinely care about the interests of others! Imagine how cool it would be to reach this level of caring and humility.

Obviously, I can’t will myself into this. Still it’s pretty exciting to think about living this way. More than that, it’s exciting to think about approaching relationships this way. I think it goes a long way towards building closeness. And that’s something I’ll talk about next time.

DJP

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