Though sometimes it is hard for me to find friends, I have always felt that I am good at building relationships. I am very dependent; I always want to be with other people and I rely on them to know what to do. During my mission, the type of relationships I made were very, very different, but also very rewarding. Since I've been home the last six months, I have mostly rekindled old friendships and developed a few new ones. It has been hard to know how to act and how to make myself appealing as a person, not as a missionary. For 18 months, almost every conversation starter I used centered about a principle of the gospel of Jesus Christ. All of a sudden, I had no idea how to connect to anyone.
One of my goals for the new year was to focus on my relationships with other people, to figure out how to care about them in a way that would lead to a friendship. So far I have had no real breakthroughs, but I was reading for my Marriage and Family class today (my last chance in college to take this course and prepare for a perhaps-someday marriage) and came across a quote that helped me understand what I've been missing.
"We must understand that there is risk in moving beyond civil relationships. Some people will disappoint or even reject us. Yet we are protected when the motive of our affection was not to manipulate someone into liking us but rather to be their friend. As followers of Christ, we may brighten another’s life, which makes us less susceptible to wounds. And if perchance we are wounded, we heal rapidly."
I don't need to manipulate others into liking me. I don't need to try to be a person they will care about. I just need to be a friend. That way I won't question my motives and feel like a fool, because I'll know that I made the correct decision in trying to "brighten another's life."