Best friends V

The third word in our trinity of relationship characteristics is interdependence. For good, healthy, close relationships, we need to follow the character of God and have togetherness, difference and interdependence.

Interdependence is where togetherness and difference come together. It is difference from independence. That focuses only on difference. It’s different from enmeshment. That focuses only on togetherness.

Interdependence is tricky to get right.

Here are some ways to get it wrong.

- Jo is so scared that her friends will reject her that she never has an opinion on anything because it might not be the same opinion that they have. She pretends she knows all about the music they talk about even though she doesn’t have a clue. She doesn’t really know what she thinks about anything, so she is really good at appearing to agree with other people all the time. Sometimes her friends have said some pretty mean things about her, but she can’t stand up to them and tell them they have hurt her. It would mean the end of the friendship. She doesn’t know that people think she’s a wimp, and boring and a lifeless sort of whale who just hangs around. She’s an easy target because she won’t do anything.

- Sarah is really good at taking care of others. She’s very responsible and she feels a rush of energy when people seem to need her to do things for them or sort out their problems. She notices that all her friends seem to have major crises in their lives and she’s very very busy looking after them all. It’s funny though – fixing up their lives doesn’t seem to help them get it together the next time! They still seem to do stupid things. She starts to get cross with them as well as doing everything for them, but they just won’t listen! She doesn’t know that when she takes care of people, it’s actually making them out to be inferior to her – people who don’t really know what to do. The people who end up as her friends will use her to get things, but never really change their behaviour.

- Nick is really popular and has heaps of friends. At least he has heaps of people who hang around him and want to be with him. He knows how to make people feel really special – when he’s with them. Too bad he doesn’t return anyone’s calls or share himself with any of them. He doesn’t know that he leaves behind a lot of broken hearts – not just romantically, but people who have thought he was their good friend, but have realised he wasn’t really interested in them.

- Sean has heaps of opinions, but they are pretty much all negative. If anyone expresses enthusiasm about something, he knows a snide comment that will bring them down or make them look stupid. He’s excellent at making jokey comments about his friends that have a sting in their tail, but “I’m just joking.” His friends think they must be a little sensitive, because they keep feeling hurt, but that’s just Sean’s sense of humour right? He doesn’t know that he will eventually have no friends because it just hurts too much for the people around him to keep being poked in the eye.

- Steve is a really really nice guy. Everyone loves him. He’s really obliging – he’ll agree to do anything and is really willing to go places and do helpful things for people. Oh, but he keeps forgetting little things. And then he doesn’t quite turn up. But he has a really good excuse each time, and he’s quick to say sorry. But it happens a lot, and if his friends pull him up on it, they’re accusing him and it’s their fault for asking him to do it in the first place. Steve doesn’t know that he actually a really really angry guy on the inside. The reasons he forgets things and doesn’t keep his promises is because he will do whatever he can to keep people happy for the moment... but the only way he can assert his independence is to not do what people want him to. He doesn’t know that eventually he will lose his closest relationships because no-one can live with those kinds of untruths forever.

For interdependence you need
To be sure that God loves you and is working in you to change you
To know yourself and your own gifts, talents and vulnerabilities
To be sure that God loves the other person and is working in them to change them
To respect the other person’s differences, gifts, talents and vulnerabilities
To be sure that you are not God and cannot solve other people’s problems
To trust and be trustworthy
To be able to speak the truth if and when necessary, even if this is hard
To be encouraging and loving in your words and actions
To be willing to say sorry
To be willing to forgive