Love well and expect love
We are taught to be kind. We are taught to polite and thoughtful. Examples of sacrificial love are revered and service to others is an invaluable action.
Whether it was as a girl or a Southerner or a Christian, I have been ingrained with these teachings.
These morals are valuable, but their truthfulness is debatable.
Follow the Golden Rule and smile – this seems to be the solution to all relational problems, yet a communication term that has been repeated to me lately is that of reciprocity.
Rec·i·proc·i·ty - the practice of exchanging things with others for mutual benefit
I believe that this should be balanced with the Golden Rule in order to create healthy, sustainable relationships and community.
Once someone told me they felt guilty being my friend because they couldn't match my level of kindness or thoughtfulness and felt guilty. Then they put great distance between us, and it caused me unexplainable sadness because in that statement I heard 'who you are as a person makes me feel bad and negative, and I cannot be friends with you because of that.'
That is the last thing I want to make people feel. I was hurt because my character was somehow insufficient, and I also just wanted this person to understand that it is so simple to show kindness to me. It takes hardly any effort at all. You can tear me down or hurt me deeply, but one note on the door or a text of 'hey, do you want anything at Wal-Mart' will suddenly redeem anything you have done. Because my expectations of others are low, I will be overjoyed at any hint of kindness I receive.
And this is wrong.
We deserve to be loved well, and treated consistently well. We should expect more from our close friends, and where this is not reciprocity, there does not need to be great investment.
This is not unkind or unreasonable. It is healthy.
Why do we choose to be around friends we don't like? Because they are simply fun to hang out with? Is it worth the mental capacity and emotional investment?
There is importance in loving and serving others sacrificially, but if that is all you do in all of your relationships, you will run dry.
We deserve more than that.
Great kindness should overwhelm our hearts and mutual love should be our pursuit. I have a habit of chasing after the wrong people while being blind to those with open arms and hearts. So perhaps my friend was right in what she told me, and, though hurtful, maybe I am the better for it now.
I deserve to be loved well. You deserve to be loved well.
Life is too short to do anything else.
So love well, and expect it in return.