You Can't Give What You Don't Have
by: LaShae Roberts
We all have that person in our life who is overly generous and gives everything they have, even their last. We appreciate these individuals, but we are also concerned for them because we know that if they are not careful, they will be depleted of all resources. And then we have that other friend – the one where no matter what you do they are not often present or consistent. This is the friend who is selfish, only considers themselves and comes round when they either want something, or fellowship with you when it is convenient. These tend to be the people you have a hard time leaning and depending on. You may have even found yourself asking why do you put up with it.
As frustrating as they can be, and as much as you would like to find fulfillment in your friendship with them, you have to remember that people cannot give what they do not have. If this friend does not have peace of mind, you cannot expect them to be a calming place in the midst of your storm. If they are selfish and self-centered, on your best-worse day, you cannot expect them to be selfless and give you the time and attention that you need. What we have here is a dilemma and there are a number of ways to handle it, but we are just going to focus on two. Either you realize you cannot get what you need from them and discontinue the relationship, or you can accept their limitations and love them as they are.
There is no right answer to this because it is a matter of figuring out what you want and need from that relationship. If you are considering letting that friend go, you must think about what that is going to mean for you. Is this a loss you are willing to take? What will be missing if that relationship cease to exist? Will there be deficits or gains? By severing this relationship, you are losing history, a confidant and someone who made you feel loved and special, even if not consistently. If you decide to stay in the friendship, you will be taking them with their flaws and all. With this decision, you are accepting their limitations and plan to love them where they are. What does that mean? It means that you can no longer become frustrated or hurt by the fact they do not call if that is how it has always been. You cannot become angry when their level of emotion does not match what you feel you need in the moment, if it has not in the past. You cannot set expectations that you know they are not capable (and in some cases, not willing) to meet. If you are doing this, you are doing them a disservice and may be setting them up for failure.
Just like your friend(s) cannot give what they do not have, neither can you. If you are not understanding and are overly critical, you are not going to be able to bring those qualities to your relationships. This is not to say that any of this is bad or wrong, but it is a matter of having awareness around who you are, as well as the people you have relationships with. If there is something lacking from that friendship, communicate this with your friend so they are aware. Just like a romantic relationship, communication has to be present in friendships as well. Bishop Noel Jones said it best, “People cannot love any different than who they are. People are different, so their love is going to be different. If you are mean, you cannot