Wow, 2015 already! How did that happen? The last year has flown by and this year is already picking up an insane amount of speed that I'm not sure if I'll be able to keep up with it! I learned so much in the last year that I could probably write a novel but I'll try and keep it to one thing so I don't overwhelm you and so, hopefully, if I get a chance to write another post for the YOU ARE blog that you'll want to read it!

One thing I have learned for sure is that relationships can really REALLY hurt. I'm not necessarily talking boy/girl relationships here – I'm talking family, friends, acquiantances etc! They can hurt to the point that sometimes you really just wonder if they're even worth it.

Half way through last year I got to go and visit a really good friend for a few days – it was a huge blessing, life had thrown me some serious curve balls and I really needed some time away with someone who loved me. It was fantastic, we hung out, we ate nice food, we went on walks at the beach, we relaxed and generally enjoyed ourselves. On my last day there, I wanted to do some shopping, and my friend just wasn't into it or up to it so on our way home afterwards things got a bit strained. It got to the point where we were all but shouting at each other! Thankfully, we love each other deeply and almost simultaneously we realised that we were misunderstanding each other and promptly burst out laughing. Crisis averted, but only because we both knew, even though we didn't process it to begin with, that our relationship was based on mutual love and respect and that we really did want good things for each other so clearly something was up when our voices were suddenly several decibels above normal conversation level! After a bit of a laugh we continued our drive home and had a lovely evening together.

It got me thinking though, what happens in relationships when we don't know how the other person genuinely sees us? What do we do then? Do we give them the benefit of the doubt or do we defend ourselves to the death (figuratively, hopefully!!) just incase they don't value us the same way we value them? Are friendships worth it if we don't truly know that the other person will always, 100% of the time love us and treat as with the care and respect that we are worthy of? I mean, if I can't be sure that my friend is going to treat me with the love and care that I would treat them with should I even be investing time into the friendship? Can I be sure that if I inadvertently do something that upsets them that they will come to me to sort it out because they know I value them? Or do I need to worry that things will suddenly turn nasty and next thing they'll be telling the whole world how nasty I am? Do I just need to spend the rest of my life being guarded and keeping my feelings, thoughts & dreams to myself to make sure that no one can hurt me? This was a big deal!

I know things with my friend (who I visited) had worked out but to be honest I've had other relationships in the last year that have all but self destructed because it seems that I put more value on the relationship/friendship than the other person. Things went so wrong that even as I write this my eyes are filling with tears from the pain of lost relationship. I don't know how to fix this and I've already invested so much that I'm not sure I want to risk giving any more incase I get hurt again.

So, here I am trying to process all of this, struggling through it trying to find some sense in it and figure out how to do this, praying that God will give me some sort of insight that shows me how to do life and friendships and I get the opportunity to go and work at a large international netball competition. I don't know about you but playing netball is almost a kiwi institution for girls. I played as a child and to this day I still love to watch and play netball. To make things even more exciting Irene van Dyk is coming back to international netball for this competition and its going to be her last international games before she retires from the international netball scene. I'm pretty excited about this. I get to go and watch all this for free, yeah I have to work, but I get to watch all the netball as part of my work, its a pretty good deal! If any of you follow netball you'll probably know what happens next. Just a few days before the competition Irene is ruled out of the competition due to injury, an injury that occurred during training for the competition! I was gutted, for her and for me, all that hard work and she wouldn't even get to play and I wouldn't get to watch her play!
I just couldn't see the justice in it! All the training she must have done to make sure she was fit enough, strong enough, fast enough, accurate enough and she didn't even get to play.

And then it hit me … what if before all the training and preparation Irene had looked at the schedule, looked at the possibility of playing international netball again and thought “What if I injure myself during training? What if something happens and I don't get to actually play?” what if she had thought that and decided that it wasn't worth it, that the risk of getting hurt or the risk of missing out was too much to bear so it was better to just not even try!

Can you imagine living life like that? Not trying anything, or preparing, or practising, or training, or studying for something JUST IN CASE it didn't go the way you hoped?

What if I treat friendships like a game of international netball? What if the risk of getting hurt isn't worth the long term pay off that a real friendship brings? What if I give my all to build a great friendship but somewhere down the track the other person decides that I'm just not worth it? Does that mean that I should never try and make friends with anyone? Should I keep my true self, my dreams, my thoughts, my hopes hidden inside to minimise the risk?

The answer, of course, is NO! Friendships can hurt like crazy, but without them life would be terrible. Any kind of relationship takes a lot of work, a lot of give and take, and a lot of vulnerability. That's just how it is. BUT it's worth it. We will never have friends we can rely on, friends who will support us when we need it, get us off our butts when we're down and celebrate with us when things are great if we don't put the time and effort in to build the relationships to start with. There is no guanrantee that it will go exactly how we want it to, but like Irene with the hope and goal of playing one last international competition, we have to train and give our all in expectation and hope!

So, next time you're feeling misunderstood or let down by your friends take a minute and think … I am being the friend to them that I want them to be to me? Am I training for this relationship as hard as I should be? Do I value them enough that their opinion is important to me?

If you answer yes to these questions then go talk to them, do that bit more hard work to make sure the friendship lasts because it's worth it and chances are with a bit of talking you'll both realised that you do love each other and that you're both worth enough to figure it out.

And, if they answer is no, then have a think about whether or not you need to put some more effort in, or if this friendship is one for a season not for a lifetime and give yourself the permission and the value to move on knowing that you've done exactly what you needed to do and that you are worth the effort required to have good, loving friendships and get out there and build some more.

We are all but guaranteed to experience some pain from friendships in our lifetime but that doesn't mean we should avoid them “JUST IN CASE” it means that we're normal just like everyone else on this planet. Lets be a generation of girls/women who get out there and give ourselves fully to our friendships, lets redefine how the world sees friendships so the norm is open, honest, loving, forgiving relationships rather than the reserved, held back, back stabbing that is so common amongst females! We have a chance to show all those around us what love really is and how life should be done – lets start by honouring our friendships and giving each other the worth we all deserve, remembering that no matter what happens we love each other. Get out there and do some training/hard work in your friendships today – leave fear behind and be the best friend you can be, the best version of yourself!!

xx Karen